Who can register to vote?U.S. citizens can vote if they are at least 18 years old on Election Day, have been a resident of the city or county for at least 30 days, do not claim the right to vote elsewhere, have not been declared mentally incompetent and are not currently incarcerated or on parole for a felony conviction. If you are a student, homeless, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, living with a mental or physical impairment, or have a criminal conviction, you can still vote! Visit the “Educate” page for more information.
What is voter registration?New York requires voters to register with a local board of elections prior to Election Day. Paper registration forms can be submitted in person or by mail. New Yorkers with state identification and a social security number can also register to vote, or update registration information such as name, address, or party enrollment, online at the state’s MyDMV website.
When should you register?New York law requires voters to register at least 25 days prior to an upcoming election. For the Nov. 8, 2016 general election, you must register by Oct. 14, 2016, by:
- postmarking and mailing a completed registration form that is received by the board of elections no later than Oct. 19;
- submitting an online registration form via the state MyDMV website, if eligible; or
- registering in person at the local board of elections, or at many state agency offices.
Where can you register?New York voters can register by mail, in person or online if eligible. To register by mail, send your voter registration form to your local board of elections. Voter registration forms are available online in English and Spanish. In New York City, registration forms are available online in Chinese, Korean, and Bengali. Voter registration forms are also available by calling 1-800-FOR-VOTE (TDD/TTY Dial 711), or at the Department of Motor of Vehicles, state public assistance agencies, public libraries and many government offices. To register in person, visit your local board of elections or a participating state agency office and fill out a registration form. New York City residents can register at a New York City Board of Elections office.
How do I…… Provide proper identification with my voter registration? Prospective voters typically provide a valid New York State driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security Number. First time registrants registering by mail may also register by providing a copy of: a valid photo ID, a current utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, or certain other government documentation that shows your name and address. More information about identification is available at www.vote411.org. … Change the address or name on my voter registration? Voters who move to a new county must complete a new voter registration and will not be able to vote if they do not re-register before the deadline. Voters who move or change their name within the same county should notify the local board of elections by submitting an updated registration form, or by updating their registrations via MyDMV. Voters who did not notify the board of elections can vote on Election Day at the polling place for their new address, per N.Y. Election Law §8-302, but will have to vote by affidavit ballot or court order. … Vote for a presidential candidate if I moved to a new county after the registration deadline? Even if you are not eligible to vote in a local election district, otherwise eligible American citizens over age 18 are entitled to vote in the presidential election by special presidential ballot. To get one, call your former board of elections. … Check on my registration status? Voters can check their registration status by visiting New York’s voter lookup page or by contacting the local board of elections.
Figure Out Where (and When) to VoteYou are eligible to vote by Absentee Ballot if:
- You will be out of the county where you live on Election Day (or away from New York City, if you reside there);
- You are unable to go to the polls because you are ill, physically disabled or in the hospital, or are the primary caregiver of such a person;
- You are a resident or patient in a Veterans Administration hospital;
- You are detained in jail awaiting grand jury action or trial; or
- You are incarcerated after a conviction for a non-felony offense. (N.Y. Election Law § 8-400.)
- Follow normal registration procedures and abide by standard registration deadlines.
- Apply for an absentee ballot with your local board of elections: fill out an application in person, request an application form and ballot by letter, or submit a completed application for an absentee ballot (available online in English and Spanish).
- Observe the deadlines for requesting an absentee ballot and for voting by absentee ballot. Generally, an application or letter requesting an absentee ballot must be postmarked 7 days before an election; and the day before an election is the final day to apply for an absentee ballot in person, as well as the final day to postmark an absentee ballot for submission by mail.
- If you live with permanently illness or disability, you may request on your application that an absentee ballot be mailed to you for each election without having to submit a new application.
- On Election Day, if you are unable to appear due to an accident or sudden illness, you may send a representative with an authorized letter to the board of elections to obtain an application and absentee ballot for you, and your representative must return both to the board of elections by 9:00 PM on Election Day.
Know Your RightsVoters have rights in New York and around the country. Before going to the polling place, visit the “Educate” section of the website to review your rights if you are a student, are homeless, have a criminal record, have concerns over language access or live with mental or physical disabilities. New York voters also have a right to:
- Take up to two hours of paid time off in order to vote if their work schedule otherwise prevents them from voting in person while the polls are open. Voters must tell their employers that they need time off to vote at least two but no more than ten days before the election. N.Y. Elec. Law § 3-110.
- Bring written or printed materials into voting booths, but not to display campaign clothing, stickers or buttons at the polling place. N.Y. Elec. Law § 17-130(4).
- Vote free from harassment or intimidation.
- Take “Challenge Oaths” if someone challenges your right to vote. You have the right to cast a regular ballot if you can complete the oaths required of you. N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-504.
- Receive instructions from a poll worker on how to use voting equipment before you close the voting booth. N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-306.
- Vote without an ID unless you are a first-time voter who registered by mail and did not provide identification.
- Vote by affidavit or provisional ballot (a paper ballot in an envelope) if you have any problems with your registration.
Reporting Violations of Voting RightsVoters who believe that their rights have been violated have local, statewide and national resources.
- The person in charge of a polling place handles most routine complaints.
- Poll watchers at the polling location from nonprofit organizations or campaigns may be able to provide assistance. Remember, you do not need to disclose who you voted for or intend to vote for to receive assistance.
- The NYCLU’s partner the national Election Protection Hotline provides assistance to voters before and after the election, and on Election Day. Call 866-OUR-VOTE for help.
Other Voting Rights and Election Day Resources
- The NYCLU’s Voting Rights Page provides resources to voters Prior to Election Day.
- Local NYCLU chapters provide assistance to individual voters who encounter problems.
- The ACLU maintains national resources on voting.
- Local boards of elections (in New York City, the NYC Board of Elections can be reached at 866-VOTE-NYC) and the New York State Board of Elections (800-FOR-VOTE) provide assistance to voters.
- The Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Voting Rights Section (800-253-3931) tracks voting problems around the country.
- The League of Women Voters of New York State provides up-to-date, nonpartisan voter information for New Yorkers.