The right of every person to vote is one of the most fundamental pillars of American society. The NYCLU has been a leader in the fight to actualize and protect every citizen's ability to exercise this basic constitutional right in New York State.
Here’s what you need to know to vote in New York’s 2018 Elections.
Important Dates and Deadlines
State & Local Primary Election Day: Sept. 13, 2018*
To register to vote in the New York State primary election, your application must be postmarked by August 19, 2018. You can also apply in-person at your local Board of Elections by August 19, 2018.
To apply for an absentee ballot, your application must be postmarked by September 6, 2018, or you can apply in-person at your local Board of Elections by September 12, 2018.
To vote by absentee ballot, your ballot must be postmarked by September 12, 2018.
* Note that the date was changed to THURSDAY, Sept. 13 in observance of Patriots Day and Rosh Hashanah (Laws of N.Y., Ch. 3 of 2018).
General Election Day: Nov. 6, 2018
To register to vote in the general election, your application must be postmarked by October 12, 2018. You can also can apply in-person at your local Board of Elections by October 12, 2018.
To apply to vote by absentee ballot, your application must be postmarked by October 30, 2018, or apply in-person at your local Board of Elections by November 5, 2018.
To vote by absentee ballot, your ballot must be postmarked by November 5, 2018.
Problems or concerns? Call the NYCLU's Voting Team at (212) 607-3300, or the Election Protection hotline at (866) OUR-VOTE. Be sure to bookmark this web page, as we will post additional information on it in the run up to the primaries and the general election. Scroll through the guide below for more information about your voting rights.
We’re here to answer your voting questions before you head to the polls. Please use our Voter Guide below:
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 for a felony conviction. In addition, many New Yorkers who are on parole for a felony conviction are eligible to vote. If you are a student, homeless, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, or living with a mental or physical impairment, you can still vote.
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.
How do I register to vote?
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.
On the New York City Elections website, registration information and forms are also available in Chinese, Korean, Bengali, and Russian.
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.
How do I 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.
How do I 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.
How do I 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.
Locate Your Polling Place:
Before Election Day, locate your polling place online or by contacting your local board of elections. You may receive a helpful information card in the mail listing your polling place, but you are entitled to vote whether you receive the card or not.
New York City voters can locate their polling place here, by calling 866-VOTE-NYC, or emailing email@example.com with your complete home address and a request for your poll location. All polling locations throughout New York State are open from 6:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m for the November General Election.
For the 2018 primary elections, all polling locations are open from noon until 9:00pm, and polling locations are also open from 6:00am until noon in New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Dutchess, Putnam and Erie.
You 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.)
How to Vote by Absentee Ballot:
- 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, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Bengali).
- 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 permanent 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.
Voters have rights in New York and around the country. Before going to the polling place, 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.
All U.S. citizens who are at least 18 years old on Election Day and have resided in the city or county for at least 30 days are eligible to vote, so long as they have not been declared mentally incompetent and are not currently incarcerated for a felony conviction, or on parole for a felony conviction but have not received a voting restoration pardon. If this describes you, you are entitled to vote.
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 enter 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.
Students can register to vote either at school or home, whatever address they consider their primary legal residence. For more information, visit the Brennan Center’s Student Voting Guide for New York.
People who are homeless can register to vote by identifying a place of residence (a street corner, a park, a shelter or any other place where you usually stay) and a mailing address (a local advocacy organization, shelter, outreach center or anyone willing to accept mail for you). For more information, visit the League of Women Voters New York State Voting Guide for Homeless Individuals.
People with disabilities can vote at their local polling place with the assistance of a person of their choice (other than an employer, an agent of an employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union). If a voter requesting assistance does not select a specific person, they will be assisted by two election inspectors, each from a different party. Polling places in New York are required to be accessible unless they are granted an exemption. If a polling place is not accessible, contact the local board of elections and ask for an accommodation or an absentee ballot application. If voting in person is not feasible, voters with disabilities have the right to vote by absentee ballot, and to automatically receive an absentee ballot for subsequent elections.
For more information please visit:
To learn about disability rights trainings for local boards of elections or poll workers, please let us know.
People with criminal convictions can vote. Individuals who were convicted of a misdemeanor or a violation are entitled to vote, even if they are still incarcerated (incarcerated individuals must vote by absentee ballot). People who have felony convictions but are not currently incarcerated, and those whose voting rights have been restored while on parole, are also entitled to vote, even if they are on probation. If you’re on parole, to find out if you’ve received a conditional pardon that allows you to vote, you can look up your name using the Parolee Lookup feature of the DOCCS website or check with your parole officer.For more information, visit NYCLU’s page on voting after a felony conviction or the Brennan Center’s Information Page on Voting Rights Restoration in New York.
For more information, visit NYCLU’s page on voting after a conviction, the League of Women Voter’s New York State Voting Guide for Individuals with Criminal Convictions or Those Detained in Jail or Prison, or the Brennan Center’s Information Page on Voting Rights Restoration in New York.
People whose first language is not English can vote in their native language in certain counties. Some New York counties require polling sites to provide Spanish, Chinese, Korean or Bengali ballots. Contact your local board of elections prior to Election Day to learn what is available in your area. If language assistance is not required in your area, you have the right to bring an interpreter with you to the polls. The interpreter can be any person who is not an employer, an agent of an employer, or an officer or agent of a labor union.
Survivors of intimate partner violence may contact their local board of elections to request an accommodation that allows them to get a special ballot and avoid their regular polling place. They can also have their voter registration record kept private by obtaining a court order in the county where they are registered. This means that the voter’s registration information will be maintained separately from other voter records, and will be unavailable for public inspection.
Reporting Violations of Voting Rights
Voters 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.
- Voters who experience discrimination or other barriers to registration and voting can contact the Civil Rights Bureau of the New York State Attorney General's Office at (212)-416-8250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The NYCLU’s partners at the national Election Protection Hotline provide assistance to voters before and after the election, and on Election Day. Call 866-OUR-VOTE for help.
- Contact the NYCLU at (212)-607-3300.
Other Voting Rights and Election Day Resources
- 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 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.
Learn About Elections
Voters have many opportunities to learn about candidates and their platforms before Election Day. Candidates frequently hold public events and local media often run extensive coverage of candidates. Many organizations host election forums and some evaluate candidates based on their voting records.
There are many constitutionally-protected ways to advocate for candidates and issues you believe in before an election, including:
Posting political signs. This can be an effective way to make sure your voice is heard on important questions facing your community, and the First Amendment protects your right to do so. Local governments may place certain limits on posted signs generally, but they cannot specifically prevent community members from posting political signs where other signs are permitted. If you believe that your municipality’s local ordinance is unconstitutional, please contact your local NYCLU chapter.
Attending or organizing a rally. This can ensure that candidates know what is important to your community. Before taking over the town square (or, in New York City, Times Square), check out restrictions on rallying and protesting, the process for obtaining permits, and the rights of participants and organizers. In New York City, read the NYCLU’s Guide to Demonstrating in New York City.
Help Others Register To Vote by volunteering with NYCLU or other organizations that hold voter registration drives. To volunteer with NYCLU, fill out this form, check the box indicating that you’re interested in Voting Rights and let us know in the text box that you want to help register voters. To find out about drives around the state, or to get help setting up your own voter registration drive, you can also contact your local NYCLU chapter or your local League of Women Voters.
On Election Day:
Volunteer as a Poll Worker through your local board of elections. For more information about being a poll worker in your area, visit the New York City Board of Elections or the New York State Board of Elections.
Volunteer as an Election-Protection Poll Monitor through an organization that places volunteers outside of polling places to document voter intimidation or illegal conduct. Some organizations may require legal experience. Organizations currently seeking election-day volunteers include the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Common Cause NY, and the 866-Our-Vote Election Protection Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. Contact your local NYCLU chapter to learn more about efforts in your area. If your organization is currently seeking volunteers for registration drives or election-day monitoring, please let us know.
VOTE. And make sure everyone you know votes.
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