This fall, for the first time in its history, Boston will elect a mayor who is not a white man. Four women and one man, all people of color, are the major candidates running for the office.

But before the general election on Nov. 2, voters will head to the polls — or their mailboxes — to vote in the Sept. 14 preliminary election, which will winnow the field down to two finalists. Voters will also narrow down the field of candidates for at-large city councilors from 17 to eight.

The preliminary is non-partisan, meaning it doesn’t matter what your party registration is, although all the major candidates are Democrats. Here’s what you can do to get ready.

Register To Vote

First, make sure you are registered to vote. You can check your status here, which will also give you your polling location. If you aren’t registered, or you have recently moved, the deadline to register is Wednesday, August 25 at 8 p.m. Follow the instructions here to register online or update your information. You can also register by mail or in-person.

Get To Know The Candidates

Eight candidates will be on ballot, including the five major candidates still running: former chief of economic development John Barros, City Councilor Andrea Campbell, City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George, acting Mayor Kim Janey and City Councilor Michelle Wu. Find more detailed profiles of each candidate here.

John Barros was Boston’s chief of economic development from 2014 to 2021 and previously served on the Boston School Committee. He also owns a restaurant in Dorchester. He said on Boston Public Radio that he expects former Mayor Marty Walsh to vote for him.

Andrea Campbell is a lawyer by training and has been a City Councilor since 2016. She has emerged as the only candidate to say moving police funding to social services is a high priority, and has pushed for a plan that would reallocate $50 million from the Boston Police Department’s budget to other services, about 12.5%.

Annissa Essaibi George has been an At-Large City Councilor since 2016 and is a former Boston Public Schools teacher. She has stood out for rejecting calls to reallocate police funding and is the leading candidate for public safety unions.

Kim Janey became acting Mayor when former mayor Marty Walsh left Boston to become Labor Secretary in the Biden administration. She is overseeing the city’s COVID-19 recovery, and recently reinstated the city’s indoor mask mandate and required that city employees either get vaccinated or submit to weekly testing.

Michelle Wu has been an at-large city councilor since 2014 and was the first candidate to jump into the race. She is a strong proponent ofrent control and advocates for policies that would cap increasing rent, and encourage new construction of affordable housing.

Research The Key Issues

Boston voters have consistently identified housing as a top issue, along with racial justice, police reform and education. GBH News has explored where the mayoral candidates stand on:the opioid problem and Mass and Cass, police reform, affordable housing and spending federal COVID relief funds.

Decide How You Will Vote

For the first time, any Boston resident will be able to vote by mail in the mayor’s race. Previously, voters needed an excuse to qualify for mail-in voting. To apply, fill out this form and either mail it or drop it off at City Hall.

Keep in mind that you’ll need enough time to mail the application, receive a ballot, fill it out and return it before Sept. 14. The U.S. Postal Service suggests giving yourself seven days for each leg of the journey. The official deadline to apply for mail-in voting is Sept. 8.

The city is working on adding early voting locations at sites across the city. And, you can always vote on election day in person from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Use this form to find your voting location.

Take A Look At Your Ballot

If you’d like to know what your ballot will look like, you can preview it here. The ballot order was randomly selected in July. Voters will also decide on eight at-large city council candidates to advance to the general election, along with City Council races in Districts 4, 6, 7 and 9.

Know Your Rights

Remember that as a voter, you have some key rights on election day: If you’re in line when a polling location closes you are allowed to vote; If you make a mistake, you’re allowed to request a new ballot; Polling places must be accessible to voters with disabilities; You don’t need to read or speak English to vote; In most cases, you do not need to show identification; You’re allowed to bring notes or guides into the voting booth with you. Learn more about voting rights in Massachusetts.

Mark Your Calendars

Finally, keep track of these key dates throughout the fall:

  • Wednesday, Aug. 25, 8 p.m.: Deadline to register to vote for the preliminary election
  • Wednesday, Sept. 8, 5 p.m.: Deadline to apply for a mail-in ballot
  • Tuesday, Sept. 14: Boston’s preliminary election (in-person polls close at 8 p.m. and mail-in ballots must be submitted also by 8 p.m.)
  • Wednesday, Oct. 13, 8 p.m.: Deadline to register to vote for the general election
  • Tuesday, Nov. 2: General election

Stay up-to-date on the latest campaign news here and follow GBH News’ politics team on Twitter: @Kadzis, @reillyadam and @SWINTERSMITH.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the years Andrea Campbell has been a city councilor, and the number of city council candidates that will advance to the general election.