After what’s felt like an interminable primary season, it’s finally New Yorkers’ turn to cast their votes. In most past election years, leading candidates have either secured enough delegates to be deemed the inevitable nominee or serious challengers have dropped out of the race by now. But for the first time since 1988, the state will host not one but two important primaries tomorrow. Here's what you need to know.
Wait, how do primaries work again?
Don’t be embarrassed if you’re confused—it’s a super complicated process! Because the Constitution doesn’t lay down rules for nominating candidates, the system has changed a lot through the years, and it differs between the parties. Currently, each presidential hopeful must win a majority of delegates to secure a nomination (1,237 for Republicans and 2,383 for Democrats). If nobody hits that threshold by the convention (a rare but plausible situation this year), each party has a portion of delegates whose votes aren’t bound to a specific candidate, and they would become very influential.
Why is this primary such a big deal?
New York has 291 Democratic delegates and 71 Republican delegates—the second highest total after California. Plus, this is an exceptionally NYC-centric election—Donald Trump hails from Queens, Bernie Sanders grew up in Brooklyn, and Hillary Clinton lives in Chappaqua. Based on the delegate math, though, New York’s primary won’t automatically earn any candidate the nomination.
How do I know if I'm eligible to vote?
In order to cast a ballot tomorrow, you must have registered to vote in New York before March 25. If you're not sure about your registration status, you can enter your information on the Board of Elections website to find out.
I'm not registered with a party. Can I still vote tomorrow?
Unfortunately not. New York has a closed primary, which means only those who are affiliated with a party can vote on that party's candidate. (So if you're a registered Democrat, you don't get a say in what happens to Trump.) Changes to your party affiliation had to be submitted by October 9 in order to vote in this primary. But that date only applies to existing voters.
Where do I go to vote?
Find your polling place by entering your address on New York's poll site locater website.
What do I need to bring to the polling site?
If you're voting for the first time and did not provide any form of identification with your registration, you'll need to bring an ID with you to the polls. If you've voted at your polling place before, then just bring yourself and your political opinions!
What time do the polls open tomorrow?
In New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Erie, the polls are open from 6am–9pm.
Pretty sure I’ll need booze to get through primary night. Any ideas?
Several bars around the city will host viewing parties, but at SideBAR (118 E 15th St) you can order a special cocktail for each candidate, including “Feel the Bern” jalapeño margaritas and “Donald Drumpf” punch complete with gold flakes.