Politics of New York City

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The city government of New York City controls a budget of about $78.3 billion a year, as of 2016.[1] Officials receive municipal funding for their campaigns, and are elected for a maximum of two terms. City government is dominated by the Democratic Party, which also normally attracts majority support within the city in State, Congressional, and Presidential elections. The suffrage has been extended in stages since the founding of the state: African-Americans (men only) received the vote in 1870 and women in 1920. Since 1968, electoral district boundaries at all levels have been drawn so as to ensure minority representation.

New York City politicians have often exerted lots of influence in other countries represented in the city's ethnic mix, as in the development of the MacBride Principles affecting employment practices in Northern Ireland. The city contains many headquarters of Federal institutions and military installations like the Intrepid.

City budget[edit]

The New York City government's budget is the largest municipal budget in the United States, totaling about $78.3 billion in 2016. It employs 250,000 people, spends $23.5 billion to educate more than 1.1 million children, levies $27 billion in taxes, and receives $14 billion from federal and state governments. New York State has more than 4,200 local governments in the form of counties, cities, towns, and villages. About 52% of all revenue raised by local governments in the state is raised solely by the government of New York City, which spends it on education (28%), social services (20%), public safety (13%), and benefits and pensions (10%).[2] New York City property taxes are lower than those in the suburbs because most of the city's revenue comes from the city's sales tax and income tax. New York City residents pay an income tax to the municipality, in addition to their New York state income taxes, based on brackets that range from 2.9% to 3.7% of state taxable income. The city income tax also features a number of fully refundable tax credits, including an Earned Income Credit.

The city has a strong imbalance of payments with the federal and state governments. New York City receives 83 cents in services for every $1 it sends to Washington in taxes (or annually sends $13.1 billion more to Washington than it receives back). The city also sends an additional $11.1 billion more each year to the state of New York than it receives back.[3] The city's total tax burden is among the highest in the United States.[4]

Party strength[edit]

New York City (5 boroughs) presidential election results[5][6]
Year Democratic Republican
2020 76.19% 2,321,759 22.70% 691,682
2016 79.95% 2,191,869 17.04% 467,254
2012 81.19% 1,995,241 17.78% 436,889
2008 79.29% 2,074,159 20.06% 524,787
2004 74.99% 1,828,015 24.10% 587,534
2000 77.90% 1,703,364 18.23% 398,726
1996 77.10% 1,512,248 17.31% 339,537
1992 68.72% 1,458,784 24.00% 509,423
1988 66.17% 1,340,795 32.84% 665,407
1984 60.96% 1,343,875 38.66% 852,317
1980 54.88% 1,052,178 37.51% 719,278
1976 66.37% 1,423,380 32.95% 706,663
1972 51.46% 1,342,996 48.27% 1,259,873
1968 60.56% 1,582,681 33.94% 886,959
1964 73.02% 2,183,646 26.81% 801,877
1960 62.62% 1,936,323 37.04% 1,145,205
1956 51.10% 1,617,701 48.90% 1,548,132
1952 54.54% 1,861,930 43.79% 1,495,493
1948 49.47% 1,596,545 34.34% 1,108,288
1944 61.64% 2,042,500 38.36% 1,271,287
1940 61.18% 1,966,083 38.82% 1,247,624
1936 75.40% 2,041,347 24.60% 665,951
1932 67.31% 1,455,176 27.02% 584,056
1928 62.06% 1,167,971 37.94% 714,144
1924 35.02% 489,199 44.83% 626,131
1920 27.34% 345,001 62.29% 785,947
1916 52.95% 353,235 47.05% 313,813
1912 49.76% 312,386 20.16% 126,582
1908 48.52% 284,190 51.48% 301,568
1904 53.05% 326,900 46.95% 289,345
1900 52.47% 309,524 47.53% 280,343

The Democratic Party holds the majority of public offices. Sixty-eight percent of registered voters in the city are Democrats.[7] There are pockets of Republican strength in some sections of Brooklyn and Queens, and a large Republican stronghold in the more suburban Staten Island.

The Working Families Party, affiliated with the labor movement and progressive community activists, is a force in city politics. Party platforms are centered on affordable housing, education, and economic development.


In the 1820s, New York State removed all property qualifications for the right to vote for whites but retained them for blacks. In 1846 voters in New York State rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would guarantee blacks the same voting rights as whites. In 1870, however, five years after the Civil War, the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving blacks throughout the United States the same voting rights as whites.

Three suffragists casting votes in New York City around 1918

New York City introduced a uniform ballot listing all candidates in 1880. To get on it, an office seeker would have to be nominated by a political party or submit nominating petitions, laying the groundwork for a system that persists to this day. In 1894 bipartisan control of elections was introduced, establishing a system in effect to this day. All election positions, from Board of Elections commissioners to election inspectors, must be divided equally between the two major parties.

A voting machine developed by Jacob H. Myers, was used in Lockport, New York in 1892. By the early 1920s, voting machines would be used for all general elections in New York City. A 1915 referendum giving women the vote was defeated by city and state voters, but in 1920 the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was signed into law, guaranteeing women throughout the United States the right to vote.

In 1967, a suit brought under the Voting Rights Act passed by the U.S. Congress two years earlier led to the creation of the majority black 12th Congressional District in Brooklyn. Previously, black voters had been divided among several predominantly white districts. Under the Act, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and the Bronx are subject to preclearance by the Department of Justice before implementing any changes affecting voting. In 1968, voters in the district elected Shirley Chisholm as the first black woman ever in the U.S. House of Representatives. Since then, congressional, state legislative, and City Council districts have been drawn so as to ensure minority representation.

Non-citizens who have children in public schools were given the right to vote in elections for members of community school boards in 1969 (those boards no longer exist). Starting in 1975 election information was provided in Spanish as well as English, and in 1992 the City introduced ballots in Chinese.

As of May 2013, a new bill has begun working its way through the NYC political system to allow noncitizens living in the five boroughs the right to vote in local elections. It has enough projected votes in the NYC City Council to overrule an expected Mayoral veto. It is unclear whether this new law (if passed) will actually be valid.[8]

In December 2021, the city council voted to allow non-citizens within New York City to vote in elections.[9]

Electoral reform[edit]

In 1937, New York City began to elect its city council through Single transferable voting. Unusually the variety of STV it adopted used the "uniform quota" where anyone who received 75,000 votes was elected and perhaps others who came close if that was needed to fill the seats.

As well, the city used its boroughs as its electoral districts and they had a range of district magnitude (number of members). In fact the NYC STV had a novel provision that the number of councilors representing a borough was tied to voter turnout in that borough. This meant that the number of councilors varied from election to election, but it intuitively ensured that each borough had the representation that it deserved, which had not been the case previously due to the city's districting lagging behind shifts in population. [10] Under NYC's STV, total seats on council varied: 1937 New York City Council election 25 seats, 1939 New York City Council election 21 seats, 1941 26 seats, 1943 17 seats, and 1945 23 seats.[11]

Term limits and campaign finance[edit]

New York has a municipal campaign finance system. The New York City Campaign Finance Board (NYCCFB) gives public matching funds to qualifying candidates, who in exchange submit to strict contribution and spending limits and a full audit of their finances. Citywide candidates in the program are required to take part in debates. Corporate contributions are banned and political action committees must register with the city.

A two-term limit was imposed on most elected officials, including the Mayor and City Council, but excluding the Districts Attorney, after a 1993 referendum.[12] In 1996, voters turned down a City Council proposal to extend term limits. The movement to introduce term limits was led by Ronald Lauder, a cosmetics heir, who spent $4 million on the two referendums.

In 2008 the City Council voted 29–22 to overturn two referendums and to extend the term limits to three terms.[13][14] These limits were reinstated as part of an NYC Charter update voted in by the electorate.

Federal connections[edit]

James A. Farley Post Office

The United States Post Office operates post offices in New York City. The James A. Farley Post Office in Midtown Manhattan is the city's main post office.[15] The post office stopped 24-hour service beginning on May 9, 2009 due to decreasing mail traffic.[16] Brooklyn, The Bronx, and Staten Island each have central and/or main post offices.[17] Queens has three, each serving one of the former townships of Queens County.

New York City also has federal buildings in downtown Manhattan that house buildings for the United States Attorney and the FBI.

New York's military installations include the United States Army post of Fort Hamilton located in the Bay Ridge section of Brooklyn under the shadow of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge. The bridge spans the Narrows and connects to Staten Island, where Coast Guard base Fort Wadsworth lies under the bridge's shadow. Fort Totten is another military installation located in Queens near the Throggs Neck Bridge.

See also[edit]

New York City-related articles:

New York State-related articles:


  1. ^ http://www.nyc.gov/html/omb/downloads/pdf/sum5_15.pdf
  2. ^ Office of the New York State Comptroller (November 2006). "2006 Annual Report on Local Governments" (PDF). Retrieved 2006-11-14.
  3. ^ New York City Finance Division (2005-03-11). "A Fair Share State Budget: Does Albany Play Fair with NYC?". Retrieved 2006-07-19.
  4. ^ Chan, Sewell (2007-02-25). "Taxed: What Makes New York Different". The New York Times. Retrieved 2007-02-28.
  5. ^ "New York Election Results". David Leip. Retrieved January 31, 2018.
  6. ^ "Statement and Return Report for Certification General Election 2020" (PDF). Retrieved December 1, 2020.
  7. ^ New York State Board of Elections. "NYSVoter Enrollment by County, Party Affiliation and Status: Voters Registered as of November 01, 2012" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on February 28, 2013. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
  8. ^ "Category: DC".
  9. ^ "New York City gives noncitizens right to vote in local elections". CNN. 9 December 2021.
  10. ^ "Proportional Representation in New York City, 1936-1947".
  11. ^ https://repository.library.georgetown.edu/bitstream/handle/10822/1044631/Santucci_georgetown_0076D_13763.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y)
  12. ^ NY Times, November 3, 1993
  13. ^ Sewell Chan and Jonathan P. Hicks, Council Votes, 29 to 22, to Extend Term Limits, The New York Times, published on-line and retrieved on October 23, 2008
  14. ^ Fernanda Santos: The Future of Term Limits Is in Court, The New York Times, New York edition, October 24, 2008, page A24 (retrieved on October 24, 2008), Judge Rejects Suit Over Term Limits, The New York Times, New York edition, January 14, 2009, page A26, and Appeals Court Upholds Term Limits Revision, The New York Times City Room Blog, April 28, 2009 (both retrieved on July 6, 2009). The original January decision by Judge Charles Sifton of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island) was upheld by a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit (Vermont, Connecticut, and New York state).
  15. ^ "Post Office Location – JAMES A. FARLEY." United States Postal Service. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  16. ^ "New York City's main post office stops 24-hour service." Associated Press. Friday April 17, 2009. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.
  17. ^ "NYC Post Offices to observe Presidents’ Day Archived 2011-06-06 at the Wayback Machine." United States Postal Service. February 11, 2009. Retrieved on May 5, 2009.