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All About Your NYC Election Ballot: Put a Stamp On It. Or Two?

Board of Election workers tally ballots in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, June 29, 2021.
Board of Election workers tally ballots in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, June 29, 2021.
Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

This article is adapted from our Civic Newsroom newsletter. You can sign up here to get it.


Voting wraps up in New York in a week. Did you vote already? Great! If not, read on.

Early voting runs from now through Halloween: Sunday, Oct. 31. And Election Day — the last day to vote — is next Tuesday, Nov. 2.

Find your poll site and sample ballot here, and look twice: Your early voting site may differ from your election Day site.

Here’s our guide on everything you need to know before heading to the polls, plus an update to our popular “Meet Your Mayor” quiz with a final showdown: Adams vs. Sliwa.

And don’t forget about those five ballot proposal questions! Yup, five. We explained them all.

Here in the last week of voting, let’s talk about your civic duty questions — and our answers.

Reader Pete N. had this query via Twitter: How many stamps do you need on an absentee ballot?

Answer: Officially, just one. But local voting advocates say use two, to be safe.

Absentee ballots can be long, and at times a bit heavier than a typical piece of mail. The Post Office’s policy is to deliver election mail, including ballots, as First-Class Mail regardless of the postage affixed to them.

The city Board of Elections says for absentee ballots in this year’s General Election, you need just one stamp. “One stamp is sufficient,” Valerie Vasquez, a BOE spokesperson, told THE CITY.

But NYC Votes, the voting education arm of the city Campaign Finance Board, recommends two stamps for a few reasons, a spokesperson there said.

First, the group has heard from voters in the past who have had absentee ballots returned to them — often without explanation, so it is unknown whether postage was the factor. Second, different districts in the city may have longer or shorter ballots, depending on how many contests and candidates appear.

More paper means heavier ballots and, perhaps, more postage needed.

So, NYC Votes says, out of an abundance of caution, stick your ballot with two stamps. (Or even better if you have the time, as a Civic Newsletter reader points out, take it to the Post Office and have it weighed — you may save about 40 cents.)

Of course, you have the option to ditch postage altogether. Reader Judi K. asked us: Can you drop off your ballot rather than mail it? If so, where?

Answer: Yes, definitely! You can drop your ballot of in person at any of these locations during voting or business hours:

  • Any of the five Board of Elections offices in the city
  • Any early voting location
  • Any Election Day polling location

Readers Jenna S. and Nancy Y. had a similar question about a double-ballot mystery: Why did they receive two separate absentee ballots from the BOE ahead of the general election?

Answer: Because they live in districts where special elections are happening on Nov. 2.

If you reside in Harlem’s Senate District 30 or Assembly District 86 in the west Bronx, you may have gotten two separate absentee ballots. One is for the regular city election (mayor, comptroller, City Council, etc.) and one is for the special election to fill two empty seats in the state Legislature. We wrote about this a bit more in a previous newsletter.

What are your election questions?

If you have any questions about the election process, the candidates or any other information when it comes to voting in New York, let us know by replying to this email or sending a note to civicnewsroom@thecity.nyc.

What we’re reading:

  • Did you miss last week’s debate between Adams and Sliwa? Here’s a good recap from NY1.
  • POLITICO shed light on why the biggest city tabloid has seemingly gone easy on Adams during his bid for mayor: He’s friendly with New York Post owner Rupert Murdoch.
  • Enough about city races: At the state level, Andrew Cuomo’s legacy has kept high donor limits intact — which is already making the 2022 governor’s race a big-money contest.

And finally, as the Board of Elections asks for votes to rename its pigeon mascot, we’ve gotta know: Are they trying to ruffle our feathers here? Our Nellie wants to know.

Happy voting!

You can sign up to get our Civic Newsroom updates to your email inbox here.

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