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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.


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.

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.


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
Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller $2,550
Borough President $1,975
City Council $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 CFB matches the first $175 of contributions from individual New York City residents at a $6-to-$1 rate. The maximum amount of public funds a campaign can receive is the same as the maximum amount for a standard election.


Public Advocate


Borough President

City Council






To qualify for matching funds, candidates must meet at the requirements outlined in Chapter 6 of the Handbook.

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.