There are certainly downsides to being a registered voter: dealing with all that glossy campaign mail when you're running low on recycling bags, getting phone calls from pollsters when your hands are covered in Doritos dust, having canvassers knock on your door right in the middle of “Magnum, PI” … the list goes on and on.
On the upside, there's the whole self-determination thing: exercising a right people died to secure, satisfying one's civic duty, and so on. Plus, there's the sticker.
Eligible New Yorkers willing to do their bit to keep democracy alive can register to vote for this year's general election through October 11. You can show up in person at the Board of Election's executive office at 32 Broadway, 7th floor, in Manhattan, which is usually open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. but will stay open until midnight on the 11th. There are also borough offices.
If you're not sure of your registration status, you can check it here. To register, you have to be a U.S. citizen who is 18 or will turn 18 by the end of this year. You can't “claim the right to vote elsewhere” and you can't currently be in prison or on parole for a felony. Other involvement with the criminal justice system (probation, misdemeanor sentences, and so on) do not disqualify you from voting.
According to state Board of Election statistics, some 4.7 million city residents are registered to vote, with 4.3 million of them considered “active” voters, meaning they have responded to any recent checks of their address. Figures from the Census Bureau indicate that 5.2 million city residents are 18 or older and U.S. citizens.
That means that 91 percent of people who might be eligible to vote (some won't be because of a criminal sentence or registration in other states) are registered, and 84 percent are active—confirming that the big hurdle for electoral participation isn't getting people to put their name on a piece of paper, but getting them to actually come out to the polls.