Although Ithaca has no major statewide or national elections, all 10 seats in the Common Council and the mayor’s office are up for election on Tuesday, Nov. 7, as well as a seat on the State Supreme Court. The voter registration deadline is Saturday, Oct. 28.
Registering to Vote
New York State residents with a valid driver’s license can register to vote at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles website.
On the website, residents can click on “Change My Address” and input their Ithaca address, if their primary address is outside of the city. This will change the address on file at the DMV, but will not require obtaining a new license. Once the DMV issues confirmation of the address change, visit the voter registration webpage and fill out the information required. After receiving a confirmation email, residents may go to the voter lookup site, input “Tompkins” for county and personal information to confirm registration and polling location.
Those without a New York driver’s license, or who do not wish to register to vote online, can register by printing and filling out the New York State Voter Registration form, then mailing or bringing it to the Tompkins County Board of Elections at 128 E. Buffalo St. in Ithaca by Oct. 28.
New York offers early voting from Oct. 28 to Nov. 5. Anyone who is registered as a Tompkins County voter and wishes to vote early can do so at Ithaca Town Hall, 215 N. Tioga St. or at Crash Fire Rescue, 72 Brown Rd. Check Tompkins County’s early voting webpage for opening hours on each day of early voting, as they vary.
The deadline to request a mail absentee ballot passed on Monday, Oct. 23, but the Tompkins County Absentee Ballot Application form can be printed out and mailed or brought to the Board of Elections office by Nov. 7. The ballot can be casted by mailing it to the Board of Elections office by Nov. 7, bringing it to an early voting location by Nov. 5 or bringing it to the Board of Elections office or polling site by 9 p.m. on Nov. 7.
Once an absentee ballot is requested, the Board of Elections will automatically send an absentee ballot for every election until registration is canceled.
Voting on Election Day
A list of all polling places in Ithaca is available at the Tompkins County BOE lookup webpage. Users can input their address and find their polling location and a list of all incumbents. This is recommended, as the City of Ithaca has redistricted and the new wards will take effect with this year’s election cycle.
Election Day is on Tuesday, Nov. 7. Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Voters who are in line but have not voted by 9 p.m. will still be allowed to vote so long as they remain on line.
Anyone with fewer than four consecutive non-working hours in which they can vote may take up to two paid hours off of work and as many unpaid hours as needed to vote, so long as you give between two and 10 work days’ notice to their employer under Section 3-110 of the New York State Election Law.
Those who require assistance to vote or need instruction on how to operate the voting machine may ask a poll worker for guidance.
New York State has just one election this year for State Supreme Court justice, but the City of Ithaca is holding elections for all alderperson positions on Common Council and the mayor, while Tompkins County is holding an election for county court judge.
Each of Ithaca’s five wards has a two-year and a four-year seat on the Common Council up for election.
In the First Ward, comprising the neighborhoods of Southside, Northside, the West End and West Hill, Alderperson Cynthia Brock (D) — the lone alderperson to vote against the memorandum of understanding between Cornell and the city — is running for the four-year term on the Ithacans for Progress ticket after losing the Democratic primary to Southside Community Center Deputy Director Kayla Matos (D). Current Second Ward Alderperson Phoebe Brown (D) was redistricted to the First Ward and is running for the two-year seat against Republican Zachary Winn, a local conservative activist and one of two Republicans running in the City of Ithaca.
Alderperson George McGonigal (D-First Ward) is not running for re-election.
Both candidates in the Second Ward — comprising most of downtown Ithaca and Collegetown up to North Quarry Street — are incumbents running unopposed. Ducson Nguyen (D) is running for the four-year term, while Kris Haines-Sharp (D) — who is currently filling the vacancy in the Fifth Ward left by Laura Lewis’s (D) accession to mayor — is running for the two-year term. If elected, Nguyen said it will be his final term.
The Third Ward — which contains South Hill and Belle Sherman on the East Hill — features newcomers across the board, as both incumbents Donna Fleming (D) — who served from 2012 to 2021 and was nominated to fill a vacancy left by Jeffrey Barken’s resignation — and Rob Gearhart (D) are not running. David Shapiro (D), director of Second Wind Cottages, is running unopposed for the four-year seat, while Cornell Law School student and Ithaca native Pierre Saint-Perez grad (D) is running for the two-year seat against Tompkins Cortland Community College Adjunct Professor Pat Sewell, who is running on the Community Party ticket.
Two Cornell students and incumbents are running for the Fourth Ward’s seats, the district where residents of Collegetown and West Campus reside. Jorge DeFendini ’22 (D), a former government and American studies major at Cornell, is running for the four-year term, while Tiffany Kumar ’24 (D), a student in the School of Industrial and Labor Relations, is running for the two-year term.
The Fifth Ward also features two Cornell students running for office, with Michelle Song ’25 — who lost the Democratic primary to former Cornell employee Margaret Fabrizio (D) — running against Fabrizio on the Working Families Party line, while Clyde Lederman ’26 (D) is running for the two-year seat against PNC Bank IT Product Manager Jason Houghton, who is running on the Ithacans for Progress line. Residents of North Campus vote in this ward.
The mayoral candidates are also both Cornellians, with Robert Cantelmo grad (D-Fifth Ward), a Ph.D candidate in government and current Fifth Ward alderperson, running against Janis Kelly ’71 (R), the other Republican candidate in Ithaca.