Election Day 2020: Get Informed & Vote

By NYPL Staff
September 21, 2020

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The words Voting Guide in white against a dark blue background, fringed with red, white, and blue stars.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 3, 2020, and there's never been a more important time to make sure your vote is cast and your voice is heard. Participating in federal, state, and local elections is the best way to make sure your community's issues and needs are represented in our government. The New York Public Library is here to help make sure you're ready to fill out your ballot on November 3 and find all of the resources you need to be an informed voter.  We've even put together a 2020 Election Reading List to illuminate voting issues on a variety of topics important to voters (and ones for teens and kids, too).

Here is what you'll need to know to go out and vote:

 Register to Vote

Not registered to vote? There's still time! The voter registration deadline for New York State is October 9, 2020. If registering by mail, your application must be postmarked by October 9 and received by October 14 to vote in the General Election. Alternately, you can register in person at your local board of elections or any state agency participating in the National Voter Registration Act on or before October 9.

Register via TurboVote: "NYC Votes is partnering with TurboVote to make sure all New Yorkers can register and vote with confidence. It should take about 5 minutes to fill out this online form. If you don’t have a NY state ID, we can mail you a pre-filled registration form to sign and submit. If you do have a NY state ID, you can fully register online. You can also sign up to receive election reminders from NYC Votes to learn how to vote early in-person (October 24 - November 1), by mail, or on Election Day."

Find out how to register In Person, By Mail or Online via vote.nyc.

To register to vote in the City of New York, you must:

  •     Be a citizen of the United States (includes people born in Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
  •     Be a New York City resident for at least 30 days.
  •     Be 18 years of age before the next election.
  •     Not be serving a jail sentence or be on parole for a felony conviction.
  •     Not be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court.
  •     Not claim the right to vote elsewhere (outside the City of New York).

Check Your Registration Status

Not sure if you're registered? Check your voter status at the NYC Board of Elections Voter website.

Not sure of your rights? Read up at New York State Voter Bill of Rights.

Sample ballot for a given address available through nyc.gov

Sample ballot for a given address available through Poll Site Locator

Find Your Polling Place

Early Voting

Did you know you can vote before November 3rd? Find a list of early voting poll sites for each borough here. Early voting runs between October 24–November 1.

Vote by Mail/Absentee Voting

Can't make it to the polls this year? You have until October 27 to request an absentee ballot online, by mail, email or fax. Find out what you need to know here. Special note for 2020: 'If you are affected by COVID-19 and/or the potential of contracting the virus, please check the box for 'Temporary Illness' on the application. The definition has been temporarily expanded to include 'a risk of contracting or spreading a disease' such as COVID-19."

Find Your Districts 
and Current Representatives

Enter your address at Who Represents Me? NYC to find out who your local, state, and federal representatives are.

Federal: The White HouseU.S. SenateU.S. House of Representatives

State: NY State GovernorNY State Attorney General New York State ComptrollerNew York State SenateNew York State Assembly

City-Wide: New York City MayorNew York City Public AdvocateNew York City ComptrollerNew York City Council

Boroughs : Bronx Borough PresidentBronx District AttorneyBrooklyn Borough President • Brooklyn District Attorney • Manhattan Borough PresidentManhattan District AttorneyQueens Borough President • Queens District Attorney • Staten Island Borough PresidentStaten Island District Attorney

Research the Issues

Factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, is a nonpartisan, nonprofit consumer advocate for voters that aims "to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics." The site monitors the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews, and news releases.

Public Agenda aims to help communities and the nation solve tough problems through research, engagement, and communication.

The Opposing Viewpoints series (available in print and online with your library card) contains information on nearly 5,000 current social topics in the form of primary source documents, statistics, websites, and multimedia.

Research the Candidates & Their Stances 

Vote411, the online voters' guide from the League of Women Voters, allows you to type in your address to see the races on your ballot. Candidates' positions can be compared side-by-side, and you may print out your preferences as a reminder and take it with you to the polls on Election Day.

The Internet Archive launched TV News Search and Borrow in 2012 "to enhance the capabilities of journalists, scholars, teachers, librarians, civic organizations, and other engaged citizens" by repurposing closed captioning "to enable users to search, quote and borrow U.S. TV news programs." It contains clips dating from 2009 to the present from over two million recorded programs which can be searched by keyword.

Open States "aggregates legislative information from all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico." Users can enter their address to find out who represents them in their state legislature, what bills their reps have sponsored and how they've voted. 

ProPublica, an independent, nonprofit newsroom has an online tool called Represent where you can learn about your Senators and House Representative—which bills they've sponsored, how they've voted (and how often against their party), statements they've released, and more.

Voterly is a fact-based, nonpartisan website aimed at helping voters make informed decisions. It maintains a database of over 150,000 politicians at the federal, state and local levels including their educational backgrounds, past political offices held and other employment history. Voterly also lets you sign up to monitor your voter registration status (you must create a free account) that sends you alerts if there are any changes in your status.

Know Your Vote gathers non partisan data to help "the politically curious become the politically empowered." The website is particularly strong in providing information and contrasting viewpoints on major issues like police reform, the environment, education and health care.

Research Campaign Finance and Government Information

The Federal Election Commission "administers and enforces the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA)—the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The duties of the FEC, which is an independent regulatory agency, are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections."

OpenSecrets.org: Center for Responsive Politics is "a nonpartisan guide to money's influence on U.S. elections and public policy."

NYOpenGovernment.com is an effort by the New York State Attorney General’s office to "promote citizens' right to know and to monitor governmental decision-making. It allows you to easily access statewide government information, which until now has been scattered or difficult to retrieve."

The Sunlight Foundation has numerous project websites to help you track influence, discover the inner workings of Congress, and track legislation and public policy.

Follow the Money: The National Institute on Money in State Politics is a "nonpartisan, nonprofit organization revealing the influence of campaign money on state-level elections and public policy in all 50 states. Provides a campaign-finance database and issue analyses." Encourages "transparency and promotes independent investigation of state-level campaign contributions by journalists, academic researchers, public-interest groups, government agencies, policymakers, students, and the public at large."

These resources and information are adapted from Election 2016: Register, Research, and Vote by Lauren Lampasone. 

Have questions? Contact Ask NYPL for more information.

Discover the Library's 2020 Election Reading List for adults, kids, and teens, as well as events, voting resources, and more.