Voting FAQs

Voting FAQs

Registering to Vote | How to Vote in 2020 | Additional Resources

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Registering to Vote

How can I register?
Am I eligible to register to vote?
I think I'm already registered to vote. How can I find out?
When do I have to register to vote in the November 2020 general election?
What if I have moved since the last time I voted?

How can I register?

Even during the Covid-19 pandemic, there are safe and easy ways to register to vote in New York:

  1. Go to nycvotes.turbovote.org. If you have a state ID from the Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) you will be able to register seamlessly through that system. If you do not have a DMV ID you can choose to receive a pre-filled form and a postage-paid, addressed envelope, or you can print the pre-filled form and mail it immediately. The registration will not be complete until this form is mailed to and processed by the Board of Elections.
  2. You can also register in-person at your local County Board of Elections, any DMV office, or a number of other New York State agencies.

Am I eligible to register to vote?

In order to register to vote you must:

  • be a United States citizen;
  • be 18 years old (you may pre-register at 16 or 17 but cannot vote until you are 18);
  • resident of this State and the county, city or village for at least 30 days before the election;
  • not be in prison or on parole for a felony conviction (unless you’ve been pardoned or restored rights of citizenship);
  • not be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court; and not claim the right to vote elsewhere.

I think I'm already registered to vote. How can I find out?

You can check your voter registration status online, or by calling the Board of Elections at 866-868-3692.

When do I have to register to vote in the November 2020 general election?

The deadline to register to vote in New York is October 9, 2020.

Applications sent through the mail (including forms created through the NYC Votes TurboVote platform) must be postmarked no later than October 9 and received by your local County Board of Elections no later than October 14 Online applications via myDMVonline or in-person applications must be submitted by October 9. In New York, voters must be registered 25 days before an election to be able to vote in that election. If you are planning to register to vote by mail it would be best to do so as soon as possible, given possible delays with the United States Postal Service.

What if I have moved since the last time I voted?

You should update your voter registration with a new address or name change by October 14. Making these changes is simple.

If the change of address was not processed (or never submitted), and you have moved within New York, you still have the right to vote! You may cast an affidavit ballot at your assigned poll site for your new address. This applies to voters who moved within the same county (e.g., from one Brooklyn (Kings County) address to another Brooklyn address) or between counties (e.g., from Queens to the Bronx). When casting an affidavit ballot due to an address change, the affidavit ballot will be used to update your voter registration for future elections.

How to Vote in 2020

How do I vote?
What's on the ballot?
I heard that Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center are poll sites. Can I vote there?
Is it safe to vote in person?
What steps can I take to stay safe while voting?
COVID-19 rates are high in my neighborhood. Is it safe to vote in person in my neighborhood?
What is early voting?
Do I have to vote in person?
When and how can I apply for an absentee ballot?
Someone else's name is printed on the oath envelope for my absentee ballot. What do I do?
My ballot says "Official Absentee Military Ballot," but I'm not in the military. What do I do?
How do I request an accessible absentee ballot?
If I voted by mail during the June primaries, do I need to request an absentee ballot for November?
When will absentee ballots be mailed?
Do I have to mail my absentee ballot, or can I drop it off somewhere?
When is the deadline to mail my absentee ballot?
How can I check the status of my mailed-in absentee ballot?
Do I need to put stamps on my absentee ballot envelope?
How do I cast an absentee paper ballot?
How do I cast an accessible absentee ballot?
How do I vote if I just want to vote on Election Day?
Where and when can I vote on Election Day?
Can I still vote in person if I requested an absentee ballot?
Do I have to bring ID?
If I want to vote in person but cannot use a pen to complete the paper ballot, do I have any options?
What is a Ballot Marking Device?
Can I use a Ballot Marking Device?

How do I vote?

 

All New Yorkers have three ways to vote in the 2020 elections. Choose the best option to make your voice heard during the pandemic. 

  • Early Voting: Vote in-person from October 24 to November 1. Your Early Voting site may be different from your Election Day poll site, so make sure to check before you go at Voting.NYC.
  • Vote by Mail: All registered voters also have the option to vote by mail by requesting an absentee ballot. The deadline is October 27th, but we recommend requesting your ballot as soon as you can. You can mark the reason as “Temporary illness or disability,” which includes the risk of contracting the coronavirus. When you receive your ballot, make sure to sign and date the back of your absentee ballot envelope. Ballots must be postmarked on or before November 3.  You can track your absentee ballot here.
  • Election Day: As always, all registered voters can vote in-person on November 3. We anticipate high turnout this year, so lines may be long at some poll sites. If you’re worried about crowds, you may want to consider voting early. Find your Election Day poll site here.

What's on the ballot?

This fall there are federal, state, and local races on the ballot:

  • President
  • Congress
  • Queens Borough President
  • State Senate
  • State Assembly
  • NYC Council District 37
  • NYS Supreme Court
  • NYC Civil Courts

I heard that Madison Square Garden and Barclays Center are poll sites. Can I vote there?

Only if they are your assigned poll sites. Use the poll site look-up website to find out.

Is it safe to vote in person?

Voting in person is safe as long as you follow the Core 4, especially if you choose to go when your voting center is less busy (usually mid-morning or early afternoon). If you can, take advantage of early voting to beat the crowds. NYS has also made absentee ballots available for anyone who prefers to vote from home. Choose whichever you are most comfortable with - the important thing is that you vote!

What steps can I take to stay safe while voting?

Wear a face covering Face coverings are required to enter all polling sites. Protect those around you and wear a face covering correctly (over your nose and mouth).  

Practice physical distancing Polling sites will be set up to enforce social distancing. Follow instructions and stay at least 6 feet away from others while at your polling site.

Practice healthy hand hygiene Polling sites will provide hand sanitizer, and you can also bring your own. Use hand sanitizer before and after touching any shared surfaces and wash your hands with soap and water immediately after you get home. Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.

Stay home if you are sick Voting is important, but it’s more important that you get better before you leave your home and that you take actions to help prevent others from getting sick.

If you don’t have an absentee ballot, contact your county's Board of Elections office for guidance about your voting options.

COVID-19 rates are high in my neighborhood. Is it safe to vote in person in my neighborhood?

  • Polling centers will have safety precautions in place to ensure that voting is as safe as possible, no matter what the COVID rates are in your community.
  • If you are at risk of severe COVID infection (elderly, immunocompromised, or pregnant), consider taking advantage of early voting in order to avoid any crowds on Election Day.
  • If you are sick, stay home and follow the instructions above for requesting an absentee ballot by mail (until October 27th) or in person at your borough's Board of Elections office (until Nov 2nd).

What is early voting?

Early voting is just like voting in-person on Election Day, just with more flexibility and shorter lines. Find your Early Voting poll site at Voting.NYC or by calling 1-866-Vote-NYC. 

Here are the dates and times that Early Voting poll sites will be open in New York City prior to the November 3rd general election:

Date Time
Saturday, October 24, 2020 10 am - 4 pm
Sunday, October 25, 2020 10 am - 4 pm
Monday, October 26, 2020 7 am - 3 pm
Tuesday, October 27, 2020 12 pm - 8 pm
Wednesday, October 28, 2020 12 pm - 8 pm
Thursday, October 29, 2020 10 am - 6 pm
Friday, October 30, 2020 7 am - 3 pm
Saturday, October 31, 2020 10 am - 4 pm
Sunday, November 1, 2020 10 am - 4 pm

 

Do I have to vote in person?

No. If you do not want to vote in person you can submit an application for an absentee ballot.  New Yorkers can apply for absentee ballots for a number of reasons, such as if they are going to be out of their County on Election Day.  Additionally, for this year’s general election New Yorkers can request an absentee ballot if they are concerned about contracting or spreading COVID-19.

When and how can I apply for an absentee ballot?

You can apply for your absentee ballot right now by visiting nycabsentee.com. The deadline to request an absentee ballot by mail is October 27, but we recommend that you request your ballot immediately. It only takes two minutes!

When applying, you should select “temporary illness or disability” as your reason, which includes the risk of contracting the coronavirus. If you are out of the city or state, you should select "absence from county or New York City on election day."

The request form is also available as a PDF which can be printed and mailed back to the local County Board of Elections. The form, online and in paper, is available in Spanish, Chinese, Korean, and Bengali.

The Board of Elections says it will start mailing absentee ballots in late September. You can track the status of your absentee ballot by visiting nycabsentee.com/tracking.

Absentee ballot requests can be submitted in-person to your borough’s Board of Elections office until November 2.

Someone else's name is printed on the oath envelope for my absentee ballot. What do I do?

Before sending your ballot back, you need to stop and double-check that it is your name and address printed on the absentee ballot envelope (this is the smaller envelope that also has a spot for your signature). If the ballot envelope doesn’t have your name and address, DON’T USE IT. The Board of Elections will mail corrected ballot envelopes to all voters affected by this printing error. You can contact the Board of Elections by calling 1-866-VOTE-NYC or emailing Apply4Absentee [at] boe.nyc.

Picture of Oath Envelope

While this is a very unfortunate error, there is plenty of time to fix it. Remember, whether you are dropping off or mailing in your completed, signed, and sealed ballot, the deadline to do so is on or before November 3.

My ballot says "Official Absentee Military Ballot," but I'm not in the military. What do I do?

This is the correct ballot for use by all absentee and military voters. Typically, there is a slash between the words “Absentee / Military” like on the primary ballots from this June. The slash was not included this time. Though confusing, these ballots are valid.

How do I request an accessible absentee ballot?

If you are visually impaired or have a disability that requires you to use an accessible version of the absentee ballot that can be read by a screen reader, you can visit nycabsentee.com. Click on the “Accessible Ballot Application” button.

To request an accessible ballot, you may also send the application form to the Board of Elections via:

  • Email: AccessibleBallot [at] boe.nyc
  • Call: 1-866-868-3692
  • Mail your local Board of Elections office
  • Fax: 212-487-5349
  • In person: Visit your local New York City Board of Elections office.

Requests for accessible ballots must be postmarked, emailed, submitted online, or faxed to the Board of Elections by October 27, 2020.  You can apply in-person for an absentee ballot until November 2, 2020.  

The Board of Elections says it will start mailing absentee ballots in late September. You can track the status of your absentee ballot by visiting nycabsentee.com/tracking.

If I voted by mail during the June primaries, do I need to request an absentee ballot for November?

Yes, unless you were previously on the permanent absentee voter list due to a long-term disability or illness, you need to request a ballot again for November.

When will absentee ballots be mailed?

The Board of Elections will mail ballots to voters who request them on a rolling basis beginning on September 18, 2020. Track your absentee ballot at nycabsentee.com/tracking.

Do I have to mail my absentee ballot, or can I drop it off somewhere?

If you would rather not put your absentee ballot in the mail, you have three options for dropping off your absentee ballot. Just look for the “Absentee Ballot” drop boxes:

When is the deadline to mail my absentee ballot?

Absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day on November 3. We recommend mailing your completed ballot in as soon as possible to avoid any concern about your ballot not receiving a postmark and arriving too late to be counted. Absentee ballots received by the Board of Elections on the day after Election Day will be counted, even if they do not have a postmark.

How can I check the status of my mailed-in absentee ballot?

Track your mailed-in absentee ballot request at nycabsentee.com/tracking. Once you have submitted your request for an absentee ballot, you can use the site to confirm whether the Board of Elections has:

  1. Received your absentee ballot request,
  2. Mailed your absentee ballot to you, and
  3. Accepted your completed absentee ballot, or if you need to fix it.

Do I need to put stamps on my absentee ballot envelope?

Yes, unlike the June primary, you must put stamps on the return envelope that comes with your absentee ballot! 

The return envelope is the larger envelope of two envelopes that will come with your absentee ballot and will have the return address of your local County Board of Elections printed on it and a logo that reads, “Official Election Mail”. 

You can also drop off your ballot at any Early Voting site, Election Day poll site, or Board of Elections office, which would not require postage.

How do I cast an absentee paper ballot?

You will receive a ballot, a smaller ballot envelope ("oath envelope"), and a larger return envelope.

  • Mark the ballot with your choices for each office following the instructions.
  • Once you have completed marking your ballot, fold it and place it in the ballot envelope. (This is the smaller envelope that has a place for your signature.)
  • Sign and date the outside of the ballot envelope where indicated.
  • Seal the ballot envelope.
  • Place the ballot envelope in the return envelope (This is the larger envelope with a return address to your county Board of Elections and an “Official Election Mail” logo).
  • Seal the return envelope.
  • Place proper postage on the return envelope.

How do I cast an accessible absentee ballot?

  • Once the accessible absentee ballot is emailed to you, download the ballot. 
  • Follow the instructions to mark the accessible absentee ballot, according to your choices for each office.
  • After you have completed marking your ballot, print it out.
  • Fold your printed accessible absentee ballot and place it in the ballot envelope. (This envelope will have a place for your signature.)
  • Sign and date the outside of the ballot envelope.  A signature anywhere on the back of the security envelope is acceptable for accessible ballots. 
  • Seal the ballot envelope.
  • Place the ballot envelope in the return envelope. (This is the larger envelope with a return address to your county Board of Elections and an “Official Election Mail” logo).
  • Seal the return envelope.  For accessible ballots, the return envelope has prepaid postage.

How do I vote if I just want to vote on Election Day?

If you are a registered voter, on Election Day you can go to your polling place between 6am and 9pm and cast your ballot.  Be sure to check the location of your polling place!

Where and when can I vote on Election Day?

Election Day is November 3, 2020. You can find your Election Day polling place here.  Polling places open at 6:00 a.m. and close at 9:00 p.m.  If you live in New York City and want to see your ballot ahead of time, visit findmypollsite.vote.nyc.  

Can I still vote in person if I requested an absentee ballot?

Yes. New York law allows a voter to vote in-person (at their assigned polling place) even if the voter requested or even mailed in an absentee ballot. This is because before any absentee ballot is counted, a bi-partisan team of CBOE staff in a transparent process with representatives of candidates, political parties, and the press present, determine whether the ballot meets the requirements of NYS Election Law. One of the first things they check is whether the person voted in person. If so, the absentee ballot is put aside and not counted.

Do I have to bring ID?

New York does not require voters to show identification when voting, except in one circumstance.  If you are voting for the first time, and you did not register to vote in-person (i.e., you registered online or via mail), you may be asked to show ID the first time you vote only.  You may use the following as ID: driver’s license or other government-issued identification card, current utility bill, bank statement, paycheck, government check, or other government document that shows your name and address.

If I want to vote in person but cannot use a pen to complete the paper ballot, do I have any options?

Yes, you can bring someone to assist you, you can request assistance from the poll workers or you can use a Ballot Marking Device (“BMD”) to mark your ballot at the polling site. However, anyone who assists you cannot be your employer nor your union representative.

What is a Ballot Marking Device?

A Ballot Marking Device, also known as a BMD, is a device that can assist you in marking your paper ballot and designed to provide privacy and accessibility to voters at their polling site.

Can I use a Ballot Marking Device?

Yes. All voters, including voters with disabilities, have the right to use a Ballot Marking Device to mark their ballot. The BMD is only used to mark the paper ballot; you need to scan the marked ballot in the counting device to cast your vote. Poll site workers can help voters use the BMDs.

Additional Resources

What if I have more questions?

You want to make sure your vote is counted. If you have any questions or concerns about casting your ballot that aren’t answered here, reach out to these organizations for help.

New York City Board of Elections https://www.vote.nyc/ or 866-VOTE-NYC

New York State Board of Elections: https://www.elections.ny.gov/

League of Women Voters Vote: 411 https://www.vote411.org/ or 212-725-3541

NYC Votes: www.voting.nyc

Disability Rights, New York: https://www.drny.org