Election Definitions

Elections Defined
What is a Primary Election?
A “Primary Election” is an election that may take place within each of New York State’s official political parties. This election precedes the General Election and provides enrolled political party members the opportunity to nominate their party’s candidates for elected office as well as to elect various party officials. In any election district, if a race is uncontested, no primary is held.

A “Primary Election” is held on the first Tuesday after the second Monday in September unless otherwise changed by an act of the legislature. The polls are open for voting from Noon until 9:00 p.m.

The Board of Elections re-canvasses the results of the primary elections and tallies the Absentee Ballots and Affidavit Ballots. The candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be the nominee of his party in the General Election for such office or will be elected to a party position.

What is a General Election?
A “General Election” is the main election that is held after the primary elections. This election determines which candidate is elected to the office. This election typically results in a much higher voter turnout than the primary elections.

A “General Election” is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. The polls are open for voting from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m.
The most prominent example is the Presidential Election held every four years. Examples of statewide general elections include the races for the New York State Governor and New York State Senators.

What is a Special Election?
A “Special Election”, also known as a “By-Election”, is an election that is held to fill a political position that has been vacated in between General Elections. This type of election usually occurs when an elected official dies, resigns or is otherwise unable to continue in office.

What is Electoral Fusion Voting?
Also known as cross-endorsing, fusion voting and multiple party nomination. This is an arrangement in General Elections where a candidate can be endorsed by more than one political party, combining the number of votes for that candidate.

This results in the candidate being listed on the ballot multiple times, under different political parties. When voting the voter can only select the candidate once but can select them under their choice of party.