Learn About ElectionsVoters have many opportunities to learn about candidates and their platforms before Election Day. Candidates frequently hold public events and local media often run extensive coverage of candidates. Many organizations host election forums and some evaluate candidates based on their voting records.
Get InvolvedThere are many constitutionally-protected ways to advocate for candidates and issues you believe in before an election, including:
- Posting political signs. This can be an effective way to make sure your voice is heard on important questions facing your community, and the First Amendment protects your right to do so. Local governments may place certain limits on posted signs generally, but they cannot specifically prevent community members from posting political signs where other signs are permitted. If you believe that your municipality’s local ordinance is unconstitutional, please contact your local NYCLU chapter.
- Attending or organizing a rally. This can ensure that candidates know what is important to your community. Before taking over the town square (or, in New York City, Times Square), check out restrictions on rallying and protesting, the process for obtaining permits, and the rights of participants and organizers. In New York City, read the NYCLU’s Guide to Demonstrating in New York City.
Know Your RightsAll U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years old on Election Day and have resided in the city or county for at least 30 days are eligible to vote, so long as they have not been declared mentally incompetent and are not currently incarcerated for a felony conviction, or on parole for one. If this describes you, you are entitled to vote! Make sure you know your rights before Election Day. Students can register to vote either at school or home, whatever address they consider their primary legal residence. For more information, visit the Brennan Center’s Student Voting Guide for New York. People who are homeless can register to vote by identifying a place of residence (a street corner, a park, a shelter or any other place where you usually stay) and a mailing address (a local advocacy organization, shelter, outreach center or anyone willing to accept mail for you). For more information, visit the League of Women Voters New York State Voting Guide for Homeless Individuals. People with disabilities can vote at their local polling place with the assistance of a person of their choice (other than an employer, an agent of an employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union). If a voter requesting assistance does not select a specific person, they will be assisted by two election inspectors, each from a different party. Polling places in New York are required to be accessible unless they are granted an exemption. If a polling place is not accessible, contact the local board of elections and ask for an accommodation or an absentee ballot application. If voting in person is not feasible, voters with disabilities have the right to vote by absentee ballot, and to automatically receive an absentee ballot for subsequent elections. For more information please visit:
- The Center for Independence of the Disabled-New York voting page
- The League of Women Voters New York State Voting Guide for Individuals with Disabilities; and
- The League of Women Voters New York State Voting Guide for Individuals with Mental Health Disabilities.