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Special Elections

In New York City, special elections are held to temporarily fill vacancies in city offices resulting from an elected official’s resignation, removal, death, or permanent incapacitation.

ABOUT
LIMITS
MATCHING FUNDS
DISCLOSURE DEADLINES

A special election takes place in a shorter time period than a primary or general election. Within three days of a vacancy, the mayor proclaims a special election date and the ballot petitioning process begins. Ballot petitions must be submitted to the New York City Board of Elections (City BOE) within 12 days of the mayor’s proclamation. Candidates who wish to participate in the Campaign Finance Program must submit a Certification to the CFB within 14 days of the mayor’s proclamation. Candidates must also file a personal financial disclosure report with the New York City Conflicts of Interest Board (COIB).

Special elections are usually held on the first Tuesday at least 45 days after the office has been vacated.

View information about the 2019B special election here. 

If a Candidate Has Already Opened a Committee

If a candidate has registered a committee for the next citywide election, he or she must use that committee for the special election. All funds raised and spent by a campaign are presumed to be for the candidate’s next election. Once a special election is declared, the candidate must register his or her committee for the special election with the CFB and the campaign’s C-SMART will be updated to reflect the special election.

If a Candidate Has Not Opened a Committee

Follow the steps in Start Your Campaign.

Special Election Trainings

Just as in regular election cycles, campaigns in special elections must have the candidate, treasurer, and/or campaign manager attend CFB trainings. You must attend a Compliance training specific to the special election, as well as a C-SMART training for any active election cycle. You will be able to sign up for the special election trainings on our Trainings page after the mayor’s proclamation of each special election.

Recordkeeping

All recordkeeping requirements for a special election are the same as for a primary and general election in a four-year cycle. Campaigns must keep detailed records and documentation for each financial transaction.

Campaigns must use the special election contribution card when collecting contributions after the special election has been proclaimed.

New York State Board of Elections

Candidates for special elections must register and file disclosure statements with the New York State Board of Elections (BOE). C-SMART can be used to generate disclosure statements for both the CFB and the BOE. Please contact the BOE for questions about their requirements and procedures at (800) 458-3453.

Contribution Limits

The contribution limit for a special election is half the contribution limit for the standard four-year election cycle (this includes the doing business limit). If a candidate has accepted contributions over the special election limits, they must refund the excess amounts to contributors by certified or bank check from the committee’s bank account before the first disclosure statement. Copies of the refund checks must be submitted with the first disclosure statement. Contribution limits apply to all candidates, whether or not they join the Campaign Finance Program.

Office Special Election
Contribution Limit
New Program (Option A)
Special Election
Contribution Limit
Old Program (Option B)/Non-Participant
Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller $1,000 $2,550
Borough President $750 $1,975
City Council $500 $1,425

Like in regular four-year election cycles, you can accept a contribution from a political committee only if the committee has registered with the CFB for the next citywide election. View a list of registered political committees for this election cycle.

Special Election Doing Business Limit

Office Special Election
Doing Business Limit
Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller $200
Borough President $160
City Council $125

Access the Doing Business Database

Expenditure Limit

The expenditure limit in a special election is equal to the limit for a primary or general election in a standard four-year election cycle. If the campaign has already spent money prior to the announcement of the special election, that spending will be presumed to be for the special election.

Office Special Election
Expenditure Limit
Mayor $7,286,000
Public Advocate, Comptroller $4,555,000
Borough President $1,640,000
City Council $190,000

In a special election, the matching rate, maximum matchable amount per contributor, and maximum public funds per election are the same as in a regular citywide election.

New Program (Option A)

Office

Matching Rate

Maximum Matchable Per Contributor

Maximum Public Funds Per Contributor

Maximum Public Funds Per Election

Mayor

$8-to-$1

$250

$2,000

$5,464,500

Public Advocate and Comptroller

$250

$2,000

$3,416,250

Borough President

$175

$1,400

$1,230,000

City Council

$175

$1,400

$142,500

† 75% of applicable spending limit

Old Program (Option B)

Office

Matching Rate

Maximum Matchable Public Funds Per Contributor

Maximum Public Funds Per Contributor

Maximum Public Funds Per Election

Mayor

$6-to-$1

$175

$1,050

$4,007,300

Public Advocate and Comptroller

$175

$1,050

$2,505,250

Borough President

$175

$1,050

$902,000

City Council

$175

$1,050

 

$104,500

‡ 55% of applicable spending limit

Choosing Option B means that you will be eligible to receive less in public funds but will be allowed to collect contributions at a higher limit.

Whichever program option candidates choose, to be eligible to receive public funds, all candidates must join the Campaign Finance Program and meet the following criteria:

To qualify for matching funds, candidates must meet the following thresholds.

Office

Special Election Dollar Threshold

Special Election Contributor Threshold

Mayor

$62,500

1,000

Public Advocate, Comptroller

$62,500

500

Borough President

$10,000 – $50,094*

100 

City Council

$5,000

75 

*The threshold amount is based upon the number of persons living in each borough, according to the 2010 Census and rounded to the nearest dollar. The amount for each borough is: Bronx ($27,702), Brooklyn ($50,094), Manhattan ($31,717), Queens ($44,614), and Staten Island ($10,000).

† Must be borough residents.

‡ Must be district residents.

All candidates must submit disclosure statements to the CFB. The Disclosure Deadlines page will include relevant disclosure deadlines once a special election has been proclaimed.