Nguyen, left, will face Gannon, right, in an election on Tuesday

ITHACA, N.Y. — Voters in Tompkins County will head to the ballot box on Tuesday to decide a slate of new elected officials — including the city of Ithaca’s mayor and several members of the Tompkins County Legislature.

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Below are 9 questions and answers intended to provide a basic guide for voters answering questions about Election Day in Tompkins County.

Click on the question to find your answer; if we missed your question, email me anytime at jstein@ithacavoice.com. 

1 — Before you waste my time: Am I even eligible to vote today?

2 — OK, so I’m registered. How do I find out what races I can vote on?

3 — I’m registered and I have contested races in my area. But why should I care about who wins?

4 — That’s interesting. So what are the major races? And where can I learn more about the candidates and what they stand for?

5 — Now that I’ve learned a little bit about the candidates … Where do I vote?

6 — How long are the polls open for?

7 — I hear money is a big thing in politics. How do I follow who is getting donations from who?

8 — Isn’t everyone in Ithaca a Democrat? Then what’s the point of voting?

9 — When are results available?


1 — Am I registered to vote?

To see if you’re registered, call the Tompkins County Board of Elections at 607-274-5521.

It takes 2 seconds to do and will immediately let you know if you’re eligible to vote.

2 — OK, so I’m registered. How do I find out what races I can vote on?

Everyone living in the city of Ithaca has a contested race on which they can vote: That between Mayor Svante Myrick and write-in candidate Phoebe Brown.

However, not every city resident has a choice — a contested race — on which to vote for the other government positions.

There are a handful of races for the area’s two most important government bodies — the City of Ithaca Common Council and the Tompkins County Legislature — but many are uncontested.

If I didn’t already know about the races, I would click on this link here to find out who is running for the First Ward seat and who is running for the 3rd County Legislative District.

In my case, it turns out I can vote in the race between George McGonigal and James Lukasavage, but not in any of the contested races for Tompkins County Legislature.

You should do this if you’re unsure of which votes you are eligible to vote for.

3 — I’m registered and I have contested races in my area. But why should I care about who wins?

Because these elections are about your money.

The Tompkins County Legislature and Ithaca Common Council are responsible for $171 million and over $64 million, respectively.

That comes from your tax dollars. It comes from the money you earn and pay property taxes on — whether you realize it or not — and from the sales taxes you pay when you go to the grocery store.

Don’t care about how your money is spent? Don’t care how your elected representatives spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year?

Then don’t vote.

4 — That’s interesting. So what are the major races? And where can I learn more about the candidates and what they stand for?

Contested races in Ithaca include:

— Mayor Svante Myrick faces a write-in campaign from local activist Phoebe Brown.

See here for more coverage: About Mayor Myrick here; About Brown here.

— Nate Shinagawa and Anna Kelles compete for the Fall Creek seat on the Tompkins County Legislature.

See here for more coverage: http://ithacavoice.wpengine.com/category/story-database/contested-race-for-4th-district/

— Ducson Nguyen and Sean Gannon compete for the Second Ward seat on Ithaca’s Common Council.

Nguyen, left, will face Gannon, right, in an election on Tuesday

See here for more coverage: About Nguyen here; About Gannon here.

— Elie Kirshner and Rich John compete for a seat that includes downtown Ithaca on the Tompkins Legislature.

See here for more coverage: http://ithacavoice.wpengine.com/category/story-database/contested-race-for-4th-district/

— George McGonigal and Jim Lukasavage are competing for a Common Council 1st Ward seat.

See here for more coverage: About McGonigal here; About Lukasavage here.

5 — Now that I’ve learned a little bit about the candidates … Where do I vote?

Look here to find out where you can vote. Once you plug in your information, you’ll see something like this at the top of the screen:

Looks like I’ll be voting at the library today.

6 — How long are the polls open for?

Polls in Tompkins County will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., according to the Board of Elections website.

7 — I hear money is a big thing in politics. How do I follow who is getting donations from who?

You can look up each candidate donations here: http://www.elections.ny.gov/CFViewReports.html

8 — Isn’t everyone in Ithaca a Democrat? Then what’s the point in voting?

While Democrats enjoy a huge registration advantage locally, there’s a large number of candidates who are challenging the Democratic Party’s nominees this year.

You can read more about the split between Democrats in Tompkins and independent candidacies through this story here: http://ithacavoice.wpengine.com/2015/10/slate-of-outside-candidates-challenging-democratic-party-in-ithaca/

9 — When are results available?

Unofficial results will be available after 10 p.m., according to the Board of Elections.

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.