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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 petition process begins. Candidates who wish to participate in the Campaign Finance Program must submit a Certification form to the CFB within fourteen days of the mayor’s proclamation. Ballot petition filings must be submitted to the New York City Board of Elections within 12 days of the mayor’s proclamation. Candidates must also file a personal financial disclosure report with the 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/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/her committee for the special election with the CFB and their 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.


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.

Special election contribution card templates can be found under Templates in the Forms & Guidance section.

New York State Board of Elections

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

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 as part of the special election disclosure statement with the CFB. 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

View a list of registered political committees for this election cycle

Doing Business Limits

Office Special Election
Doing Business Contribution 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 General/Primary limit for the 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
Doing Business Contribution 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 NYC 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.

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. Disclosure statement deadlines are published on this page after the mayor’s proclamation of each special election.

Disclosure deadlines for the February 14, 2017 special election.