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How to Vote

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
CAST YOUR BALLOT
VOTE ABSENTEE
FAQ

You have the right to vote in a primary election if:

  • You are a registered voter and you are enrolled in a party that is holding a primary.
  • You are inside your polling place no later than 9:00 p.m. on Election Day.

You have the right to vote in a general election if:

  • You are a registered voter.
  • You are inside your polling place no later than 9:00 p.m. on Election Day.

In any election, you have a right to:

  • Be assisted by any person of your choice (except your employer or union representative), including a trained poll worker, if you need help to vote. If you need an interpreter, BOE interpreters are available to assist voters at selected sites. Call 866-VOTE-NYC for more information, including which polling sites have interpreters available and for which languages.
  • Ask election workers how to vote.
  • Bring materials with you, such as the CFB Voter Guide.
    (Please take these materials away with you when you finish voting.)
  • Vote even if the voting machine is broken.
  • Vote by "affidavit ballot' if your name is missing from the list of voters at your polling site.

You may have to show identification to vote in this election if you are voting for the first time at your polling place.

  • Acceptable forms of identification include valid photo ID or current utility bill, bank statement, government check or paycheck, or government document that shows name and address.
  • If you cannot or choose not to show identification, you have the right to vote by affidavit ballot.

 

Three easy steps to cast your ballot on Election Day. Ask to use the Ballot Marking Device (BMD) if you need assistance filling in your choices.

1 | Get Your Ballot
  • Go to your designated poll site and find the correct table for your Assembly District/Election District (these numbers are printed on the notice you receive from the BOE and on your Voter Guide mailing label).
  • Sign in and get your paper ballot from the poll worker. A privacy sleeve will be provided to shield your ballot from view after you have marked it.
  • Go to the privacy booth or request to use the ballot marking device (BMD).
 2 | Mark Both Sides of Your Ballot
  • Mark your ballot by completely darkening the oval next to your choice using the pen provided.
  • Do NOT use an “x” or a “✓”, circle the oval, or make stray marks on the ballot.
  • For a write-in candidate, fill in the appropriate oval and write in the candidate’s name.
  • Do NOT fold your ballot. Do NOT sign or write your name on your ballot. 
 3 | Scan Your Ballot
  • Carry your marked ballot in the privacy sleeve to the scanner area.
  • Select your language of choice by touching the corresponding button on the screen.
  • Insert your marked ballot into the scanner to cast your vote. The scanner accepts ballots in any direction and reads both sides. The scanner will notify you when your vote has been cast.

Write-in Voting

If you want to vote for a candidate who is not listed on the ballot, you must:

  • completely fill in the oval in the area provided for write-in candidates and
  • write or stamp the name of the candidate in that same box.

How to Use the Ballot Marking Device (BMD)

The BMD provides two ways for voters to access the ballot:

  1. See the ballot on the display screen
  2. Listen to the ballot through audio headphones

The BMD provides four ways for voters to mark the ballot:

  1. Touch Screen
  2. Key Pad (Braille)
  3. Sip & Puff Device
  4. Rocker Paddle

Follow these steps to mark your ballot using the BMD:

  • Decide how you will access and mark the ballot.
  • Insert your ballot into the feed tray.
  • Select your preferred language.
  • The BMD will guide you through the process of making your choices and reviewing your selections.
  • To change a selection, select the contest or issue you would like to change and reselect the proper choice. Select “NEXT” to return to the summary screen.
  • Selection “Mark Ballot” to print your marked ballot.
  • Take your printed ballot and voter card to the scanner area.
  • If you would like assistance inserting your ballot into the scanner, a poll worker will assist you.

Remember…

Turn your ballot over! There may be instructions and/or ballot proposals to vote for on the back.

Fill in the oval completely. Do not use an “x”, a “✓”, or circle the oval.

Vote for only one person unless instructed otherwise. In the first column of each row, the ballot will say how many choices you have. In most cases, it will say “Vote for ONE”, but in some cases it may say “Vote for any TWO”, “Vote for any THREE”, etc. This means you can vote for up to that many candidates. Please read the ballot carefully so you do not overvote or undervote.

You can vote for a write-in candidate. You may vote for a candidate who is not listed on the ballot by filling in the write-in oval and writing their name in the space provided.

Be sure to vote for every office and every ballot question. Look your ballot over carefully before you scan it. Be sure you voted for every race and every ballot proposal. The scanner will alert you if you failed to mark an oval for one or more races or ballot questions (“undervoted”) or if you marked too many ovals (“overvoted”), and give you the option to get your ballot back so you can correct it (see below). If you choose to cast your ballot anyway, you will not get a second chance to vote.

Problems & Solutions

I made a mistake marking my ballot.
Do not try to erase or change your ballot. Ask a poll worker for a new ballot. Each voter can request up to 3 ballots total.

I “undervoted” (failed to mark a choice for one or more contests).
Select “Don’t Cast – Return Ballot”, and finish marking your choices before scanning your ballot.

I “overvoted” (filled in too many ovals for a contest).
If you overvote, your vote for that office or ballot proposal will not be counted. If you realize you have overvoted before placing your ballot in the scanner, ask a poll worker for a new ballot to fill out. If you insert a ballot with an overvote into the scanner, the display screen will show an error message with two choices. Select “Don’t Cast – Return Ballot”, and the scanner will return your ballot so you can ask a poll worker for a new ballot to fill out. If you choose “Cast Ballot”, the scanner will keep your ballot and your vote will not be counted for the contest in which you overvoted, but the rest of your choices will count.

The text is too small; I can’t read my paper ballot.
There will be a magnifying sheet available. You can also ask to use a Ballot Marking Device (BMD).

Can’t make it to the polls on Election Day? You can still participate! Follow the instruction below to vote absentee instead.

You can vote by absentee ballot if you are a registered voter and cannot make it to your polling site on Election Day because of your:

  • occupation,
  • business,
  • studies,
  • travel,
  • imprisonment (other than a convicted felon), or
  • illness, disability, hospitalization or residence in a long-term care facility.

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

If you know you will need to vote by absentee ballot, you can download, complete, and submit an absentee ballot application to the BOE office in your borough at least seven days before the election.

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The BOE will mail you a ballot, which you will need to fill out and mail to your local BOE office no later than the day before the election; the BOE must receive it no later than seven days after the election.

You can also hand deliver your absentee ballot application to the BOE office in your borough (no later than the day before the election) and receive your absentee ballot immediately.

In-person absentee voting begins as soon as the ballots are available (at least 32 days before an election) and ends on Election Day. You may vote absentee at the BOE office in your borough Monday through Friday and on the weekend prior to Election Day, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and until 9 p.m. on Election Day.

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 may send a representative to your borough office with a written letter of authorization to receive an absentee ballot on your behalf. A completed application and your completed ballot must be returned to the BOE office in your borough by 9:00 p.m. on Election Day.

If you are permanently ill or disabled and cannot get to your poll site, you can vote by absentee ballot on a permanent basis by getting on the New York City Board of Elections permanent absentee ballot list. Check the box marked “permanent illness or physical disability” of the absentee ballot application, and the BOE will automatically send you an absentee ballot application for each election for which you qualify to vote.

Note: Some poll sites are accessible to New Yorkers with disabilities. Voters can find out if their poll sites are accessible for the disabled by calling the voter hotline. Disabled voters whose poll sites are not accessible can request to vote at the nearest poll site in their district that is accessible.

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. 

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 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 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. 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.

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 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 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. 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.

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 (for example, if you moved without updating your address or your address change wasn’t processed in time for you to appear in the voter book). Follow the instructions to fill out this ballot and the 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 for future elections if you were not eligible to vote and you filled it out correctly.
 
What if a poll watcher challenges my right to vote?
 
If a poll watcher challenges your right to vote, e.g., states that you are not the person you claim to be or that you don’t live in the district, 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 on regular (not affidavit) ballot.
 
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. 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 FAQ for more information.

I am currently homeless, can I vote?

Yes, if you register. See the instructions in the Registering 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.