Answers to frequently asked questions about voting in NYC
How can I stay safe from (COVID-19) while voting?
All New Yorkers can choose to vote by mail or vote early in-person starting 10 days before Election Day. Visit our Voting and Coronavirus (COVID-19) page for the latest updates.
What’s on the ballot this election?
You can find out about candidates and ballot questions by visiting NYC Votes’ online Voter Guide. 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.
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.
How can I check If I’m registered to vote?
Use the Voter Registration Look-up 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. Check your registration status online at voterlookup.elections.ny.gov (you will need to enter your county, name, date of birth, and zip code), or call 866-VOTE-NYC (TTY-212-487-5496 for the hearing impaired) for assistance.
What if I moved within New York City since the last time I voted?
When you move, you should change your address with the BOE by submitting a new voter registration form. Fill in the box labeled “Voting information that has changed” by entering your new and old addresses, 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. You may also update your information through the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles website.
Your change of address must be received by the BOE by October 14, 2020. Call 866-VOTE-NYC to find out whether your change of address has been processed.
I have a disability and need help voting. What resources are there for me?
You have the right to request and receive assistance from anyone of your choice (except your employer or union representative) while you are at the polls. You can also ask any of the poll workers at your poll site for help, or ask to use the ballot marking device (BMD). You can use the BMD either to see the ballot on a display screen or listen to your choices through headphones. You also have the right to vote absentee if you’re unable to get to the polls.
What if my name is not in the voter book when I sign in to vote?
First, make sure you are signing in at the correct table for your assembly and election district. If you are at the correct table but still not on the poll list, you can request an affidavit ballot. After the election, the Board of Elections 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.
What is an affidavit ballot?
An affidavit ballot is a paper ballot you can request if you’re not listed in the voter book but believe you are eligible to vote and are at the correct polling site. Follow the instructions to fill out the ballot and envelope, and give it to a poll worker when you are done. After the election, the Board of Elections will check its records — if you were eligible to vote, were at the correct poll site, and filled out the ballot and envelope correctly, your vote will be counted. If not, you will receive a notice that your vote did not count. Your affidavit envelope serves as a registration form and change of address form for future elections so the BOE will have your correct information going forward.
What if a poll watcher challenges my right to vote?
If a poll watcher challenges your right to vote, you can ask a poll worker to administer an oath to you to affirm your qualifications to vote. You will swear under penalty of perjury that you are eligible and qualified to vote, after which you will be permitted to vote by regular (not affidavit) ballot.
Types of Elections
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 a general election.
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. NYC now uses Ranked Choice Voting in special and primary elections for local offices.
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.
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 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 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 and a resident of the district in which the special election is held. NYC now uses Ranked Choice Voting in special and primary elections for local offices.
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.