2015 Voter Guide

Voting FAQ

What is a primary election?

A primary election is held when more than one candidate wants a party’s nomination and has successfully completed all the steps to get on the ballot. The winner of a primary election runs as that party’s nominee in the general election held in November. If only one candidate is seeking a party’s nomination, no primary is held for that office.

Can I vote in the primary election?

If you are a registered voter who is enrolled (by the deadline) in a party that is holding a primary election, you can vote in the primary. State party rules may allow non-enrolled voters to participate in certain primary elections; check with the BOE to find out if you are eligible.

What is a runoff primary election and can I vote in that?

If no candidate for a citywide office (mayor, public advocate, or comptroller) receives at least 40% of the vote in the primary election, a runoff primary election is held between the two candidates who received the most votes. If you were eligible to vote in a party’s primary, you are also eligible to vote in any runoff primary held by that party.

What is a general election and can I vote in that?

In the general election, candidates from different parties compete to win elected office. You can vote for any candidate running on any party line for each office on the ballot. You can also vote “yes” or “no” on ballot proposals. All voters who registered by the deadline are eligible to vote in the general election.

What is a special election and can I vote in that?

A special election occurs when an office becomes vacant before the end of the scheduled term, for example, if the elected official resigns or is elected to a different office. When this happens, a special election is declared to within a short period of time to fill the seat until the end of the term. You can vote in a special election if you are registered to vote by the deadline and you are a resident of the district in which the special election is held.

What is a ballot proposal?

A ballot proposal is a question placed on the ballot for voters to decide. Ballot questions may involve bond issues, or proposed amendments to the New York State Constitution or the New York City Charter. In some cases, an individual or group submits a petition to place a question on the ballot.

I don’t know if I’m registered to vote—how can I find out?

Use the http://voterlookup.elections.state.ny.us to check your registration status online, or call 866-VOTE-NYC (212-487-5496 for the hearing impaired) for assistance.

Could my registration have expired?

Your registration has no expiration date. However, if you did not vote in the last two federal elections, or you moved without updating your address with the BOE, your registration may be considered “inactive” and your name may not appear in the voter roll at your poll site. You can still vote by affidavit ballot.

What if I moved within New York City since the last time I voted?

When you move, New York State law requires you to change your address with the BOE within 25 days. You do this by submitting a new voter registration form and filling in the information on the form, including information in the box labeled “Voting information that has changed.” Fill in your new and old address, check the box for the party you wish to be enrolled in (do this even if you were enrolled in a party at your old address), and provide any other requested information. If you moved but you didn’t change your address with the BOE before the deadline, you should go to your new polling place and vote by affidavit ballot. Call 866-VOTE-NYC to find out whether your change of address has been processed.

What if they can't find my name on the list when I sign in to vote?

First, make sure you are signing in at the correct table for your assembly and election district. These district numbers are printed on the mailing label of Voter Guides you receive from the CFB and on the mailer the BOE sends to all registered voters before each election. A poll worker is available at each poll site to look up your name and address and determine which district you live in if you need assistance, or check the BOE's poll site locator.

Once you confirm that you are signing in at the correct table, if you are not on the poll list, it may be because the BOE did not receive your registration form. If you believe that you are eligible, you can still vote. Ask a poll worker for an affidavit ballot, and follow the instructions. After the election, the BOE will check its records and your vote will be counted if you were eligible to vote. If not, you will receive a notice that you were not eligible to vote with a registration form for future elections.

Where do I go to vote?

You should receive a voter card in the mail 2–3 weeks after registering to vote that contains your poll site information. You can also check online by using the Board of Elections poll site locator.

What if I can't get to my polling place on Election Day?

You can vote by absentee ballot if you are unable to get to your polling place due to absence from the county or New York City on Election Day; temporary or permanent illness or physical disability; hospitalization; duties related to primary care of one or more individuals who are ill or disabled; or detention in a veterans administration hospital, jail, or prison, awaiting trial or action by a grand jury, or in prison for a conviction of a crime or offense that was not a felony.

There are two ways to vote by absentee ballot: by mail or in person.

  • By mail: call 866-VOTE-NYC to request an absentee ballot application or download it from the BOE’s website. Fill out the application and mail it to your BOE borough office by the deadline. The BOE will send you an absentee ballot. Fill it out and mail it by the deadline to your BOE borough office.
  • In person: Absentee voting in person begins as soon as the ballots are available (at least 32 days before an election) and ends on Election Day. It is conducted at your BOE borough office Monday–Friday and on the weekend prior to Election Day, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and until 9:00 p.m. on Election Day.
  • Please note: If the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot by mail has passed and you cannot appear at your poll site on Election Day because of an accident or sudden illness, you can send a representative to your BOE borough office with a written letter of authorization to obtain an absentee ballot on your behalf. A completed application and your completed ballot must be returned to your BOE borough office by 9:00 p.m. on Election Day.
I’m not sure what’s on the ballot this election—where can I find out?

You can find out about candidates and ballot questions by visiting NYC Votes’ online Voter Guide at www.nyccfb.info/voterguide. A printed Guide is also mailed to voters when local offices (such as mayor and City Council member) or ballot questions are on the ballot.

I was convicted of a felony, can I vote?

If you have been convicted of a felony, you can register and vote after you complete your sentence and/or parole. See the Registering to Vote FAQ for more information.

I am currently homeless, can I vote?

Yes, if you register. See the instructions in the Registering to Vote FAQ.

Do I need to show identification to vote?

In most cases, you do not need an ID to vote. If you are voting for the first time, you may need to show a photo ID to verify you are who you claim to be.

I am a registered voter but my name is not on the voter roll at my poll site—can I vote?

Yes. If your name does not appear in the voter rolls but you are at the correct poll site, you may vote by affidavit ballot. You should double check your poll site location to verify you are at the correct site before asking your poll worker for an affidavit ballot. After the election, the BOE will check its records and your vote will be counted if you were eligible to vote. If not, you will receive a notice that you were not eligible to vote with a form so you can register for future elections