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Election Administration in New York

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Election Types and Dates

Election Dates

Upcoming Primary Elections

The primary election for President is April 19, 2016. The primary election for Congress is June 28, 2006. The primary election for state and local offices is September 3, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. 2016 Presidential Primary Calendar [link]

N.Y. 2016 Draft Political Calendar [link]

Upcoming General Elections

The general election for all offices is November 8, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. 2016 Draft Political Calendar [link]

How is a nominee determined?

How is a nominee determined (caucus, primary, convention)?

Most nominations are made through primary elections. However, party nominations for the office of justice of the supreme court must be made by judicial district convention. Additionally, in any town in a county having a population of over 750,000 (according to the most recent census), party nominations of candidates for town offices must be made by primary election. In any other town, nominations of candidates for town offices can be made by caucus or primary election, as decided by county committee shall provide, except that the members of the county committee from a town may adopt by a two-thirds vote a rule providing that the party candidates for town offices must be nominated at the primary election. Party rules determine how a candidate in a special election is nominated.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 6-110 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 6-106 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 6-108 [link]

Political Party Affiliation

Can voters register by party in the state?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-210(5)(f) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-300 [link]

Must voters be registered with a political party if they would like to vote on that party’s candidates in a partisan primary election (i.e., are primaries open or closed)?

Yes, primaries in New York are closed.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302(4) [link]

When can a voter change or switch their party affiliation?

25 days before a general election. However, a person's request to change their party enrollment will not take effect until after that general election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-304 [link]

Voter Registration

Who Can Vote?

What are the state's residency requirements for voters?

To register to vote, a person must live in New York and in the city, county, or village in which they intend to vote for at least 30 days preceding the next election.

New York state law does not currently provide any specific rules for homeless voters. In 1984, a federal court addressing an old version of the residency law held that the state could not refuse to allow homeless individuals to register to vote on the ground that they fail to live in traditional residences.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-102 [link]

Pitts v. Black, 608 F. Supp. 696, 710 (S.D.N.Y. 1984 [link]

Can someone pre-register to vote if they will not be 18 years old by the next election? If so, who?

No, a person must be 18 years old on Election Day in order to register to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-102(1) [link]

Can 17-year-olds who will be 18-year-olds by the general election vote in the primary?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-102(1) [link]

Does the state take away the right to vote from persons convicted of certain crimes? If so, what crimes?

In New York, the right to vote is lost upon conviction of a felony if the person is sentenced to a term of actual imprisonment, and the right to vote is automatically restored after the person finishes their sentence, including any post-prison period of parole or probation. However, if a person is sentenced only to probation and not to any time in prison, then the person does not lose their right to vote.

Additionally, a person cannot vote in any election in which that person receives, accepts, or offers to receive; or pays, offers, or promises to pay; or contributes or offers or promises to contribute to another, or to be paid or used, any money or any other valuable thing as a compensation or reward for voting or not voting in an election, or registering or refraining from registering as a vote. Additionally, a person cannot vote in any election in which the person makes any promise to influence the giving or withholding of a vote or voter registration, or who makes or becomes directly or indirectly interested in any bet or wager depending upon the result of that election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-106 [link]

If people lose the right to vote because of a criminal conviction, can they regain the right to vote? How?

The right to vote is automatically regained after a person finishes their prison term and any subsequent period of probation or parole. Additionally, a person's right to vote can be restored by the Governor (or equivalent authority in another state, or President for federal crimes) pardoning that person or restorating their civil rights.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-106 [link]

Voter Registration Options

Is fully online voter registration available? (i.e., can voters fill in and submit an online application without printing and signing it?)

Yes, but only to people who have a New York driver's license or state ID and a Social Security Number.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Electronic Voter Registration [link]

Does the state accept the National Mail Registration Form?

Yes. Click here to download the form.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

National Mail Voter Registration Form [link]

Is the state required to register voters at public assistance agencies and driver's license agencies, per the National Voter Registration Act of 1993?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

U.S. Department of Justice website [link]

Student-Specific Rules

Does the state have specific rules on students registering to vote or voting?

In New York, students can register to vote at their student address if they have a present intention to remain at their school address for the time being, and they intend to make it their principal home. Otherwise, a student can choose to register at their former, non-student address.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-104 [link]

Voter Registration Deadlines

When is the voter registration deadline?

Generally, 25 days before Election Day. However, for special elections, the deadline is 10 days before Election Day. Additionally, if a person is honorably discharged from the military or becomes a naturalized citizen after the 25th day before Election Day in any election, that person may register to vote up to 10 days before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-210(3)-(4) [link]

How is the deadline enforced for mailed applications?

The applicated must be postmarked by the voter registration deadline. For most elections, the application must also be received by the 20th day before the election. For special elections, the ballot must be received by the voter registration deadline.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-210(3) [link]

How is the deadline enforced for online applications?

The application must be received by the voter registration deadline.

When must a voter make changes to their registration for the changes to be in effect before the person seeks to vote?

Generally, within 20 days before an election. However, voters may update their name (if they changed their legal name) at their polling place on Election Day, and voters who move to a new address within the same election district may vote on Election Day and update their address at the polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-208 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302 [link]

Voter Registration Drives

Does the state require organizations conducting voter registration drives to register?

No.

Are there restrictions on getting voter registration forms?

No.

Does the state require any training in order to conduct voter registration drives?

No.

Does the state have restrictions on who may help others register to vote?

No.

Does the state have restrictions on paying drive workers, or additional rules related to payment?

New York law does not address this issue.

Are there restrictions on the voter registration drive offering something of value to a person in exchange for completing a voter registration application?

Federal law states that whoever "pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years." At least one federal appellate court has interpreted "payment" as "intended to include forms of pecuniary value offered or given directly to an individual voter, and indicated the value should be based on "an assessment of the monetary worth of an item from the perspective of the voter receiving the item." That case held that food vouchers could be "payment."

Another example is California's Secretary of State's interpretation of the federal law to mean that "Any type of incentive is considered 'payment,' even things as seemingly innocent as cookies or admission to an entertainment event."

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

California Secretary of State's Guide to Voter Registration Drives, p. 11 [link]

52 U.S.C. § 10307(c) [link]

United States v. Garcia, 719 F.2d 99, 102-103 (5th Cir. 1983) [link]

Must the registration drive worker sign the completed voter registration application, and must the drive or canvasser place other information on applications?

No.

Does the state have a rule requiring a receipt or other tracking information to be provided to the applicant?

No.

Are there restrictions on copying completed voter registration applications prior to submitting them to the election official, or other restrictions on data entry or disclosure?

New York law does not specifically address this issue.

Is there a time limit for voter registration groups to submit the voter registration applications they collect?

Not other than the general voter registration deadline.

What are the consequences for failing to submit applications on time?

New York election law does not directly address this issue. However, it is a misdemeanor for a person other than the applicant to, prior to the filing of the application, willfully suppress or, except as authorized by election law, destroy a signed application for registration by mail.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 17-108 [link]

Same-Day Registration

Can voters register and vote on the same day (i.e., does the state offer same-day registration)?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-210(3)-(4) [link]

Voters Who Have Moved or Changed Their Name

Can people vote if they moved, but did not update their voter registration with their new address?

Voters who move to a new address within the same election district may vote on Election Day and update their address at the polling place. Voters who moved to a new election district or county without updating their voter registration record with their new address before the voter registration deadline cannot vote a regular ballot but may vote an affidavit (provisional) ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302 [link]

Can people vote if they have changed their name, but did not update their voter registration with their new name?

Voters may update their name at their polling place on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302 [link]

Language, Literacy, and Disability Access

Language and Literacy Access

Does the state have any places that must provide election materials in languages other than English, per Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

Yes, the following counties must provide voting materials in the following languages:

  • Bronx County - Spanish
  • Kings County - Chinese, Spanish
  • Nassau County - Spanish
  • New York County - Chinese, Spanish
  • Queens County - Asian Indian, Chinese, Spanish, Korean
  • Suffolk County - Spanish
  • Westchester County - Spanish
Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

Voting Rights Act Amendments of 2006, Determinations Under Section 203, 76 Fed. Reg. 63602 (Oct. 13, 2011) [link]

Does the state have any other rules about providing election materials in languages other than English?

A board of elections in a city of over one million must provide the same information in Russian that it provides in languages other than English on its website. It must also produce and disseminate citywide a booklet that includes the following: (1) a voter registration form in English with instructions in Russian; (2) instructions in Russian regarding the criteria and application process for obtaining an absentee ballot; and (3) a section with general voter information in Russian including frequently asked questions. Such board also may include other languages on its website and in this booklet.

County boards of elections may also choose to provide election notices, notices of when polling places are open, and lists of voter registration places in languages other than English.

Additionally, the State Board of Elections must provide the following information in any language that appears on the ballot in any precinct in the state, and may also choose to provide this information in other languages as well; this information must be posted in each polling place on Election Day:

  • The sample ballot and instructions for the use of ballot scanners and ballot marking devices
  • A statement that “today is election day” and the hours during which polling places will be open;
  • Instructions on how to cast an affidavit ballot and a concise statement of a voter's right to such a ballot;
  • Instructions relating to requirements for voting on ballot scanners by those registrants who must provide identification pursuant to the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002;
  • Instructions for first-time voters;
  • A voter's bill of rights describing voter's rights under applicable federal and state law, including the right of accessibility and alternate language accessibility;
  • Information pertaining to voting by election day paper ballot, including information about the consequence of casting an overvote, steps to prevent unintentional undervoting and spoiled ballots;
  • Instructions on how to contact the appropriate officials if a voter's right to vote or right to otherwise participate in the electoral process has been violated; *General information on federal and state laws regarding prohibitions on acts of fraud and misrepresentation.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-102 (notices of polling place hours) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 4-118 (notices of primary elections) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 3-506 (Russian) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-104 (polling place postings) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 4-119 (notices of voter registration places) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 4-120 (general, special, and village election notices) [link]

Who can help a voter with reading assistance or translation if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to vote due to inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

The same rules apply under state law. In addition, state law allows a voter to request the assistance at the polling place of two election inspectors who are registered in different political parties.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-306 [link]

Disability Access

Who can help a voter with a disability if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to vote due to inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

The same rules apply under state law. In addition, state law allows a voter to request the assistance at the polling place of two election inspectors who are registered in different political parties.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-306 [link]

Does the state have other rules related to access for persons with disabilities?

If a person tells election officials that they are unable to read or write by reason of illiteracy or disability, the officials must help the person register to vote. If the person cannot write, they are excused from signing their voter registration application, and election officials will enter the words “unable to sign” in each space reserved for the person's signature. Election officials must also enter in the remarks space on the face of the registration records the reason for the person's inability to write their name.

Additionally, if a person claims that they cannot sign the registration book on Election Day because of a physical disability incurred since they registered to vote, the board of inspectors, if convinced of the existence of such disability, must permit the person to vote, and must enter the words “Unable to Sign” and a brief description of such disability in the space reserved for the voter's signature. In each future election, if such disability still exists, the voter can vote without signing their name and the board of inspectors, without further notation, must enter the words “Unable to Sign” in the space reserved for the voter's signature at such election.

A physically disabled voter whose polling place is located in a building that is not accessible can vote in any other election district whose polling place is located in a building that is accessible, so long as the candidates and ballot proposals on the ballot in that election district are the same as those on the ballot in the election district in which the voter lives. A written application to the local board of inspectors by a disabled voter to have their registration record transferred to an election district which has an accessible polling place will be valid for an election occurring more than 14 days after it is received by the board of elections and, if the voter is permanently disabled, for all future elections. The application may specify the election district to which the voter wishes their registration records transferred; if the voter does not specify a district, then the board will assign the voter to the nearest accessiblle district, if any. No later than 10 days before each election, the board must mail to the voter information specifying the number and location of the accessible election district they have been assigned or a notice that there is no accessible election district that the voter can use.

Finally, persons declared mentally incompetent by a court cannot vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-216 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-106 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-304 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-601 [link]

Early Voting, Absentee Voting, and Other Ways to Vote

Vote-by-Mail

Does the state provide mail ballots to all voters without a request?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400(1) [link]

Early Voting/Absentee In-Person Voting

Does the state have early voting/absentee in-person voting?

Yes, New York has in-person absentee voting. A voter may apply for, pick up, and cast an absentee ballot at the board of elections office. However, a voter may cast an absentee ballot in person only if, on Election Day, they:

  • Will be absent from the county where they live, or absent from New York City if they live there; or
  • Expect to have an illness or physical disability, or have duties related to the primary care of someone who has an illness or physical disability, or will be a patient in a hospital; or
  • Will live in, or be a patient of, a veteran's health administration hospital; or
  • Will be detained in jail awaiting action by a grand jury or awaiting trial, or confined in jail or prison after a conviction for an offense other than a felony
Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-406 [link]

Where does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

The county's board of elections office.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-406 [link]

When does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

In-person absentee voting begins 30 days before Election Day and continues through the day before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400(2)(c)-(d) [link]

Are lists of early voters/absentee in-person voters published? How?

All counties must keep lists of absentee voters, and these lists are by law considered public records and open to public inspection.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-402(7) [link]

Absentee Voting by Mail

Can anyone vote absentee by mail without an excuse? If not, what excuses allow a voter to vote absentee by mail?

No; a voter may cast an absentee ballot only if, on Election Day, they:

  • Will be absent from the county where they live, or absent from New York City if they live there; or
  • Expect to have an illness or physical disability, or have duties related to the primary care of someone who has an illness or physical disability, or will be a patient in a hospital; or
  • Will live in, or be a patient of, a veteran's health administration hospital; or
  • Will be detained in jail awaiting action by a grand jury or awaiting trial, or confined in jail or prison after a conviction for an offense other than a felony
Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400 [link]

Deadline to apply for absentee ballot by mail

Completed absentee ballot applications must be mailed to the voter's county board of elections no later than the 7th day before the election (judged by their postmark) or delivered in person no later than the day before the election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400(2)(c) [link]

How does a voter apply for an absentee mail ballot?

A voter may obtain an absentee ballot application online here or from their county board of elections. The voter may submit the application to their county board of elections by mail, fax, or in person.

Alternatively, a voter may send a letter to the county board of elections, which must contain the following information: the address where the voter is registered, an address where the absentee ballot is to be sent, the reason for the request, the voter's fax number (if the letter is being sent by fax), and the signature of the voter. The voter may submit this letter to their county board of elections by mail, fax, or in person. However, if a voter submits a letter instead of an application, then the voter will receive an application with their absentee ballot and they must complete and return the application with their absentee ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. State Board of Elections Website: Absentee Voting [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400(2)(d) [link]

Can a voter make an online request for an absentee mail ballot?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. State Board of Elections Website: Absentee Voting [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400(2)(d) [link]

Does a voter need to submit any supporting documentation or verification with an absentee mail ballot or absentee mail ballot application? If so, what is required?

No, except that if a person requested an absentee ballot by letter instead of by application, the person will receive an absentee ballot application with their absentee ballot, and the voter must complete and return the application with their completed ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. State Board of Elections Website: Absentee Voting [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400(2)(d) [link]

Are there restrictions on who may request or turn in an absentee mail ballot application for a voter?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-406 [link]

Are there restrictions on who may return a voter's absentee mail ballot for them?

If a voter cannot pick up their ballot or will not be able to receive it through the mail, the voter may designate on their absentee ballot application or letter someone to pick it up for them. Only the person designated on the voter's application or letter may pick up and deliver the ballot to the voter.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-406 [link]

Are there any special emergency rules that allow a voter to vote absentee by mail if they are unable to make it to the polls at the last minute?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-400 [link]

Are lists of people who vote absentee by mail published? How?

All counties must keep lists of absentee voters, and these lists are by law considered public records and open to public inspection.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-402(7) [link]

Presidential-only ballots

Under federal law, any registered voter who moves out of the state after the 30th day before a Presidential election may vote for President and Vice President either in person at the voter’s previous state of residence or using an absentee ballot from the voter’s previous state of residence.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

52 U.S.C. § 10502(e) [link]

Absentee Voting for Military and Overseas Voters

Who is eligible for military/overseas absentee voting?

Military voters and overseas voters are eligible for absentee voting, although different rules apply to each group. A "military voter" is a qualified voter of the state of New York who is absent from their election district on Election Day because of their military service for New York or their service in the army, navy, marine corps, air force, coast guard, merchant marine, the coast and geodetic survey, the public health service, or the national guard when in the service of the United States, or their service as a midshipmen of the United States Military Academy, United States Naval Academy, United States Air Force Academy and United States Coast Guard Academy). Any spouse, parent, child, or dependent of such a military voter who is accompanying them is also considered a military voter.

Military voters can vote in all federal, state, and local elections except on races for party members of the ward, town, city, or county committee.

In New York, overseas voters are called "special federal voters". Special federal voters are United States citizens who live outside of the country and meet one of the following requirements:

  • The person's last home immediately before the voter left the United States was in the state of New York; or
  • The person is at least 18 years old and has never lived within the United States, but who has a parent who lives outside of the country and whose last home immediately before leaving the United States was in New York.

Federal voters can vote only on federal races.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 11-200 (overseas "special federal" voters) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 10-104 (military voters) [link]

How do voters apply for a military/overseas ballot?

Voters can apply for a military ballot or a special federal ballot using the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). (Click here)[https://www.fvap.gov/citizen-voter/overview] to download the application.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 10-104 (military voters) [link]

N.Y. Board of Elections Website: Military and Overseas (Federal) Voters [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 11-202 [link]

Deadline to apply for a military/overseas ballot

Completed applications must be received by the voter's county board of elections no later than the 7th day before the election, except that military voters may deliver their application in person no later than the day before the election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 10-106 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 11-204(4) [link]

Deadline to return the military/overseas ballot

An absentee ballot cast by a military voter or special federal voter must either (1) be received by the board of elections before the polls close on Election Day; or (2) be postmarked (or signed and dated by the voter and a witness) no later than the day before the election and received by the board of elections no later than 7 days following a primary election or 13 days following a general or special election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 10-114 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 11-212 [link]

Who is eligible to use a write-in absentee ballot? How does it work?

All military voters and special federal voters are eligible for a federal write-in absentee ballot and are encouraged to use it if they have not received the state's official ballot 30 days before the election of if they have unreliable mail service.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot Fact Sheet [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 10-108 [link]

On Election Day

Where do you vote in person?

Where do you vote in person?

At the polling place in the voter's election district.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 4-104 [link]

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

For general elections, polls are open 6 a.m. - 9 p.m. in all counties.

For primary elections, in New York City and the counties of Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Rockland, Orange, Putnam and Erie, polls are open 6 a.m. - 9 p.m., and in all other counties, the polls are open 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Voters standing in line when the polls close are allowed to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-100(2), (5) [link]

In the Voting Booth

Can a voter bring children into the voting booth with them?

Parents or guardians may bring their children with them to the polls if the children are 15 years old or younger.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-104(2) [link]

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Yes, if the employee does not have enough time to vote outside of their working hours. Such employees may take up to 2 hours off to vote without loss of pay. If an employee requires more than two hours to vote, then the employee may take additional unpaid time to vote. The employer can require that the employee take their time off at the beginning or end of their working shift. An employee must notify their employer of their intention to take time off to vote at least 2 days before Election Day and no more than 10 days before Election Day.

However, if an employee has four consecutive hours off either between the opening of the polls and the beginning of their working shift, or between the end of their working shift and the closing of the polls, then the employee cannot take time off to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 3-110 [link]

Campaigning, Electioneering, and Recording Devices

Are there restrictions on campaigning/electioneering on Election Day?

People cannot campaign on Election Day or on days of registration within one hundred feet of an entrance to a polling place. This prohibition does not apply to a building or room that has been maintained for political purposes at least six months before Election Day or registration days, except that no political displays, placards, or posters can be displayed there.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 17-130(4) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-104(1) [link]

Can a voter wear a button or t-shirt with a candidate's name or logo on it into the polling place when they vote?

The New York Attorney General has stated that wearing campaign materials to a polling place is "inadvisable" because state law bans people from campaigning within 100 feet of a polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-104(1) [link]

N.Y. Op. Atty. Gen., 48 St.Dept. 173 (1933) [link]

*NEW 1** Can a voter use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) inside the polling place or voting booth?

Yes, digital devices are permitted. However, a voter is prohibited from showing their marked ballot in a way that reveals its contents, such as by sharing a picture of it.

Source (confirmed on: 10/17/2016 )

N.Y. Elec. Law § 3-102 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-104 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 17-130 [link]

*NEW 2** Can a voter use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) outside the polling place but within the zone around the polling place where campaigning/electioneering is banned?

State law does not separately address this issue (see previous question).

Source (confirmed on: 10/16/2016)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-104 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 17-130 [link]

Who's at the Polls?

Can persons other than election workers observe inside the polls?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-500 [link]

What are observers inside the polls called in the state?

Watchers.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-500 [link]

Does the state establish requirements to observe inside the polls?

In general elections, special elections, town elections, and village elections, any party committee or independent body whose candidates are on the ballot may appoint for each election district three watchers to serve at any one time. Similarly, in primary electiosn, any two or more candidates and any political committee may appoint for each election district three watchers to serve at any one time. Only one watcher at a time have may be within the guard rail. Watchers are appointed by the chairman of the party, committee, or independent body, or by the candidates. To appoint watchers to an election district, the chairman or secretary of the political party or independent body, or the candidates, must make the appointment in writing on a certificate and then deliver that certificate to an election inspector at the election district.

Each watcher must be a qualified voter of the city or county in which they are appointed. No candidate for any public office on the ballot in an election district can be a watcher in that district.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-500 [link]

*NEW 3* Can a poll observer use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) in the polling place?

State law does not address this issue. Local practices may vary.

Are there other rules on what poll observers can or cannot do?

Watchers may be present at the polling place at least 15 minutes before the unlocking and examination of any voting machine or ballot box at the opening of the polls, and they may remain in the polling place until after the signing of the election inspectors' returns and proclamation of the result. Additionally, one watcher at a time may go behind the guard rail. Otherwise, watchers have no special privileges or prohibitions.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-500 [link]

Provisional Voting and Voters at the Wrong Polling Place

When should a voter be offered a provisional ballot?

Under Section 203 of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, if a person claims to be a registered voter in the jurisdiction in which the person desires to vote and the person claims to be eligible to vote in a federal election, but the person’s name does not appear on the official list of eligible voters for the polling place or an election official asserts that the person is not eligible to vote, then that person must be permitted to cast a provisional ballot at that polling place. The person may cast the provisional ballot after executing, before an election official at the polling place, a written affirmation stating that the person is (1) a registered voter in the jurisdiction, and (2) eligible to vote in that election.

Additionally, any person who votes in a federal election as a result of a federal or state court order, or any other order extending the time established for closing the polls by a state law in effect 10 days before the date of that election, may only vote in that election by casting a provisional ballot. Any such ballot cast must be separated and held apart from other provisional ballots cast for different reasons.

Under state law, a provisional ballot is called an "affidavit ballot," and a voter must be offered an affadivit ballot in any of the following circumstances:

  • The voter registered to vote by mail, is voting for the first time in a particular New York jurisdiction, and did not satisfy the voter ID requirement for such voters (see section below on Voter ID and Challenges for further information).
  • The voter's registration record does not appear in the poll record, or the voter's name or signature does not appear in the registration list
  • In a primary election, the registration list does not show that the voter is affiliated with the political party whose ballot the voter wishes to vote
Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

52 U.S.C. § 21082 (federal law) [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-303 [link]

If a voter casts a provisional ballot at the wrong precinct, will the ballot be counted?

A ballot cast in the wrong election district will be counted so long as it was cast in the correct polling place (this may occur where a single polling place serves multiple districts and the voter stood in line to vote for the wrong district). A ballot cast in the wrong election district and the wrong polling place will not be counted.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 9-209(2)(a)(iii) [link]

Following up on a provisional ballot

An affidavit ballot will be counted without any further action required of the voter so long as the voter is qualified to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302 [link]

Finding out if a provisional ballot was counted

When a person casts an affidavit ballot, the appropriate state or local election official must give that person written information that describes how the person can learn whether the vote was counted, and, if the vote was not counted, the reason that the vote was not counted.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 9-212 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302 [link]

Ballot Shortages/Voting Machine Malfunctions

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a polling place runs out of printed ballots? Are handwritten/photocopied ballots allowed?

If a ballot shortage occurs, handwritten or printed "emergency ballots" must be prepared by the county's board of elections or, at its discretion, the election inspectors in the election district or the town or village clerk. Emergency ballots must be appear as close in form to official ballots as practicable.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 7-120(2) [link]

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a voting machine breaks or malfunctions?

The county board of elections is required to provide a sufficient number of emergency ballots to be placed at each polling place for use if a voting machine breaks down. The emergency ballots may be either handwritten or printed and may take any suitable form. Sample ballots may be also used as emergency ballots if a voting machine breaks.

If a voting machine breaks, election inspectors can choose whether to use emergency ballots until one hour passes, and after one hour the election inspectors are required to use emergency ballots until the machine is fixed or replaced.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 7-120(1), (3) [link]

Voter ID and Challenges

Voter ID

Who must show ID to vote?

A person must show ID only if they registered to vote by mail AND are voting for the first time in a particular New York jurisdiction AND, when registering to vote (or subsequently), they did not either (1) write on their application a New York driver's license number, New York DMV non-driver photo ID card number, or last four digits of their Social Security Number, that matches the number in an existing state identification record; or (2) provide with their application a copy of a current and valid photo ID or a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or government document that shows the name and address of the voter.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-303 [link]

What ID is acceptable?

The following are acceptable forms of ID:

  • Current and valid photo ID
  • A copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or a government document that shows the name and address of the voter
Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-303(2) [link]

Is a student ID an acceptable form of identification?

Yes, if either (1) it is a current and valid ID that shows the voter's photograph, or (2) is issued by a public university, college, or school and shows the voter's name and address.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-303(2) [link]

Does the address on the ID have to match the address at which the voter is registered?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-303(2) [link]

If a voter has no ID, are there alternatives such as an oath or witness?

Yes. Voters without ID may vote using an affidavit ballot, which will count so long as the voter is qualified to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-303(2)(b) [link]

Do elections without federal offices on the ballot (such as off-year gubernatorial elections) have different ID requirements?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302 [link]

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-303 [link]

Challenges to Voters at the Polling Place

Who can challenge a voter at the polling place?

Any election inspector, watcher, or qualified voter properly in the polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-502 [link]

What are the allowed reasons on which a voter can be challenged at the polling place?

A person can be challenged based on any reason that would make the person unqualified to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-504 [link]

Is there a requirement for the challenger to provide cause or evidence?

No. However, the reason for the challenge must be recorded in the election district's challenge report.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-508 [link]

How does a voter defend their eligibility to vote if they are challenged?

A voter must (1) take a "preliminary oath" promising to tell the truth with regards to their qualifications as a voter, and (2) answer questions posed by an election inspector about the reason they were challenged. If the voter answers the questions to the board of inspector's satisfaction, then the voter may cast a regular ballot. If the voter does not answer the questions satisfactorily but insists they are eligible to vote, then the inspectors will require the voter to swear under one or more oaths that they are eligible. If the voter takes the oaths, then the voter will be able to cast a regular ballot. If the voter refuses to answer any questions fully or to take any required oath, then the voter cannot cast a ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-504 [link]

What are the restrictions on polling place challenges?

Challenges are permitted at the polls on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-504 [link]

State and Local Election Officials

The State Election Authority

Who/what is the state election authority?

State Board of Elections

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 3-102 [link]

Current official

Peter S. Kosinski (Co-Chair); Douglas A. Kellner (Co-Chair); Andrew J. Spano (Commissioner); Gregory P. Peterson (Commissioner)

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

About the New York State Board of Elections [link]

E-mail

info@elections.ny.gov

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

Contact the Board of Elections [link]

Phone

(518) 474-6220

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

Contact the Board of Elections [link]

Address

NYS Board of Elections 40 North Pearl Street, Suite 5
Albany, NY 12207-2729

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

Contact the Board of Elections [link]

Local Election Authorities

What local election official(s) are in charge of major state-level elections (such as the even-year November general elections)?

The county's Board of Elections

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 3-200 [link]

What is the county-level election official?

The county's Board of Elections

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 3-200 [link]

What is the municipal-level election official?

In village elections, the village clerk is the election officer of the village.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Elec. Law § 15-124 [link]

Contact information for local election authorities

Click here.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

County Board of Elections Contact Information [link]

The Voter File

Voter File Basics

National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) Disclosure Law

Section 8 of the federal NVRA requires that each State maintain for at least 2 years and make available for public inspection and, where available, photocopying at a reasonable cost, all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters, except to the extent that such records contain information about a person declining to register to vote or information about the identity of a voter registration agency through which a particular voter might have chosen to register.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

52 U.S.C. § 20507 [link]

Acquiring a Voter File

Under state procedure, who may acquire a voter file?

Members of the public. Click here to access the State Board of Election's online records request form.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Rules & Regs. of State Bd. of Elections § 6202.1(a) [link]

Who is the state-level contact for acquiring a voter file?

John W. Conklin, Director of Public Information New York State Board of Elections 40 North Pearl Street, Suite 5 Albany, NY 12207-2729 Tel: (518) 474-1953

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. State Board of Elections Website: Freedom of Information Requests [link]

How much does the state charge for the file?

For photocopies of documents, 25 cents per page. For documents sent to the requester by fax, 65 cents per page. For computer printouts or magnetic media, the actual cost of reproduction, plus postage if mailed to the requestor.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Rules & Regs. of State Bd. of Elections § 6202.1(o)-(r) [link]

What format is the file available in?

Comma delimited format

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

Request for Access to Public Voter Registration Data [link]

Use of the Voter File

Does the state have restrictions on commercial use of the voter file?

Information in the statewide voter registration list can be used only for election-related purposes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Election Law § 3-103(5) [link]

Does the state have restrictions on non-commercial use of the voter file?

Information in the statewide voter registration list can be used only for election-related purposes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-03-30)

N.Y. Election Law § 3-103(5) [link]