The Moment for Civic Duty is Here – Vote in the Election

By Sheila S. Boston
President, New York City Bar Association

The call to civic duty is ringing loudly and clearly and I’m urging our New York City Bar Association community to answer that call. You can make a difference:  Use your vote and protect the votes of your neighbors. Educate yourself about voting and be a resource for those around you. Put your legal expertise to work protecting our election process so that every voter is heard. Be a poll worker. Get New York counted in the 2020 Census so that our community is sustained in the years to come. Let’s harness the civic spirit of the legal profession and set an example as we seize this moment.


Every New Yorker can vote early, or by absentee. Early voting may be the easiest and most convenient way for you to vote in person and avoid crowds. New York State also has made it easier for New Yorkers to qualify for an absentee ballot in the upcoming election. Read this terrific FAQ the City Bar Election Law Committee has produced, and view our Get Out the Vote Event, to answer your burning questions about voting. And, visit to make a plan.

Basic facts about voting in the November 2020 election:

  • If you are a registered voter, on Election Day, November 3, you can go to your polling place and cast your ballot. You can find your election day polling place here.
  • If you cannot – or do not want to – vote on Election Day but still want to vote in person, you can participate in Early Voting. This year Early Voting starts on October 24, 2020 and runs until November 1, 2020, at specified early voting sites. You can find the Early Voting sites for your county, and their hours of operation, here.
  • Everyone who is able to vote in person should consider casting their ballot during this early period.
  • If you cannot vote in person, you can submit an application for an absentee ballot – the deadline to apply is October 27, and ballots must be postmarked or dropped at your either your polling place or your local Board of Elections by November 3. There is no need to wait for these deadlines; in fact, once you know how you want to vote, why wait until the last minute?
  • New Yorkers can apply for absentee ballots for a number of reasons, such as if they are going to be out of their County on Election Day. Additionally, New Yorkers can request an absentee ballot if they are ill, or if they are concerned about contracting or spreading an illness such as COVID-19, by checking “temporary illness”.


Election Protection – led by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law – is the nation’s largest non-partisan voter protection coalition, and is guided by the principle that all voters should enjoy an equal opportunity to participate in the political process. This should not be a controversial proposition and is one that lawyers, in particular, should support. You can sign up to work the 866-OUR-VOTE hotline or as a monitor in the voter assistance field program, to help ensure eligible voters are able to participate in our democracy while collecting data for meaningful reform so that our elections are free, fair, and accessible. Click here to get started, and talk to your firm about granting billable hour credit for Election Protection training and work.


If you’re ready to give your time and effort as a poll worker, I salute you! Note that many poll workers tend to be older adults, who are most vulnerable to the coronavirus, so there is a great need for reinforcements. Poll workers will get trained and paid for their work during Early Voting, October 24 to November 1, and Election Day, November 3. Poll workers prepare the voting place, guide voters and enforce social distancing, and report election results. Click here and choose “in NYC” or “outside NYC” to get started, and talk to your firm about granting billable hour credit for Poll Worker training and work.


If you haven’t filled out your 2020 Census, you still can through September 30 and it’s just as important as voting! The Census will determine how much representation New York gets in Congress, and how much money it gets from the federal government. That means money for schools, for healthcare and for struggling businesses. New York is in danger of being undercounted, so tell your friends, family, clients and neighbors to do their duty and fill out the Census!

*Census information is protected by strong federal legislation. Everyone in our city is part of our community. Complete the census without fear.

Thank you!