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Election 2012: Register, Research, and Vote

The Republican and Democratic National Conventions are over, and the presidential nominations from the two major U.S. political parties are official: incumbent President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. With the general election less than two months away, here are resources to help you get ready to vote.

U.S. Capitol., Digital ID g90f091_015f, New York Public LibraryU.S. Capitol., Digital ID g90f091_015f, New York Public Library

November 6, 2012 General Election Deadlines

MAIL REGISTRATION (N.Y. Election Law Section 5-210(3))
Applications must be postmarked no later than October 12th and received by a board of elections no later than October 17th to be eligible to vote in the General Election.

IN PERSON REGISTRATION (N.Y. Election Law Sections 5-210, 5-211, 5-212)
You may register at your local board of elections or any state agency participating in the National Voter Registration Act, on any business day throughout the year but, to be eligible to vote in the November General Election, your application must be received no later than October 12th except, if you have been honorably discharged from the military or have become a naturalized citizen since October 12th, you may register in person at the board of elections up until October 26th.

CHANGE OF ADDRESS (N.Y. Election Law Section 5-208(3))
Notices of change of address from registered voters received by October 17th by a county board of elections must be processed and entered in the records in time for the General Election.

For more information and New York absentee ballot information, visit

If you're not from New York, check qualifications, ID requirements, and polling locations at Can I Vote? If you're a citizen living outside the U.S., see the Federal Voting Assistance Program. If you're temporarily away from your home state, check Long Distance Voter for information about absentee ballots.

Voter Qualifications

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

  • Be a citizen of the United States (Includes those persons 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).

Register to Vote

Not sure if you're registered? Check voter status at NYSVoter Public Information - Voter Registration Search.
Register to vote in New York for the first time, or update name, address, or party affiliation.
In PersonBy MailOnline

See the New York Voters' Bill of Rights at

Find Your Polling Place

Find Your Districts 
and Current Representatives

They Represent You from the League of Women Voters of the City of New York: enter your address to find your local, state and federal representatives.

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

State NY State GovernorNY State Attorney GeneralNew 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 AttorneyManhattan Borough PresidentManhattan District AttorneyStaten Island Borough PresidentStaten Island District Attorney

Research the Issues

Project Vote Smart bills itself as "the voter's self-defense system." It contains voting records, biographies, issue positions, interest group ratings, speeches, and campaign finances for all politicians. It also features "VoteEasy," a tool that lets you compare your personal views to those of candidates running for office.

Compare and contrast with Project Vote Smart's VoteEasyCompare and contrast with Project Vote Smart's, 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 communications.

Scout is a project from Sunlight Foundation (more on them below) that lets you search for keywords for issues that matter to you in state and federal legislation (here's Libraries, for example.) Create an alert to notify you of new additions matching your search query.

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

New Yorkers for Better Libraries PAC has published a voter's guide that shows the records of state legislators on issues affecting libraries.

Research the Candidates

New York City Campaign Finance Board
The Campaign Finance Board is a "nonpartisan, independent city agency that enhances the role of New York City residents in elections. The CFB’s mission is to increase voter participation and awareness, provide campaign finance information to the public, enable more citizens to run for office, strengthen the role of small contributors, and reduce the potential for actual or perceived corruption."

Compare platforms side by side and make yourself a cheat sheet to take to the polls with Vote411Compare platforms side by side and make yourself a cheat sheet to take to the polls with Vote411Vote411 - 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. Politics is a channel featuring clips from various news sources of candidates on the campaign trail.

The Internet Archive recently launched TV News Search and Borrow "to help engaged citizens better understand the issues and candidates in the 2012 U.S. elections by allowing them to search closed captioning transcripts to borrow relevant television news programs." It contains 350,000 news programs recorded over the past three years.

Research Campaign Finance and Government Information

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." Center for Responsive Politics is "a nonpartisan guide to money's influence on U.S. elections and public policy." Also has information available through an iPhone app called Dollarocracy. is an effort by the 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."

Ad HawkAd HawkSunlight Foundation has numerous project websites and apps to help you Track Influence, discover The Inner Workings of Congress, and Track Legislation and Public Policy.

SuperPACAppSuperPACAppSuperPACApp (iOS) and Ad Hawk (iOS and Android) are both apps that detect what political ad is playing on your TV (similar to Shazam or SoundHound) and then give you information about the group funding the ad.

Follow the Money: The National Institute on Money in State Politics - "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."

Congressional Universe Database provides comprehensive access to U.S. legislative information from Congressional Information Service, Inc. and is available on-site at the research libraries. Contains Congressional Publications, Legislative Histories, Bills & Laws, Members & Committees, Regulations, and Daily Congressional Record & Rules.

Find Election Results

FederalNew York StateNew York City

White House, North Front., Digital ID g90f098_008f, New York Public LibraryWhite House, North Front., Digital ID g90f098_008f, New York Public Library


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This is wonderful. I have recently begun the MLS program at SJU and am working on a projected related to this posting. I am interested in focusing on archives. Archives play such a crucial-- albeit almost unseen-- role in democracy. They ensure accountability, maintain records of financial contributions, keep the candidates honest by provided information like their voting records and keep the citizenry informed. Thank you you posting this.

Thank you -- I agree that

Thank you -- I agree that archives and libraries have a vital role to play in our democracy. Best of luck with your project!

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