NEW YORK — You've gotten there in time, you have the right polling place, and yet you are turned away at the polls on Election Day.
What happens now?
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There are any number of reasons why you may be told you can't vote on Election Day. Maybe you've moved recently and haven't updated your registration. Maybe you haven't voted in a while and you've been marked as inactive.
This does not mean you should walk out of the precinct and not vote.
Here is what you should do.
DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT POLLING PLACE?
- Make sure you have the right polling place. You can look up your polling place, which should be based on your current address, by going to your borough elections office. We have links on our Decision 2021 Voting Guide.
- Know that if you haven't updated your address with the local elections office, you may be challenged at the polls. When you move, New York State law requires you to change your address with the BOE within 25 days. The NYC Board of Elections says you can update your address if you moved within the city by re-registering to vote. The Board of Elections will then transfer the registration to the new address. (The Board of Elections is required to change an address on a voter registration before an election if a request for a change is received 20 days before the election. For the primary, that date is June 3.) Any voter who casts a ballot in an affidavit ballot envelope which sets forth the new address will also see their address be transferred.
- If you moved but did not change your address with the BOE before the deadline, per the New York City Campaign Finance Board, you should submit an affidavit ballot.
DO YOU HAVE THE RIGHT VOTER IDENTIFICATION IF YOU’RE A FIRST-TIME VOTER?
If you did not provide ID when you registered to vote the first time, you will have to vote by affidavit ballot. According to the BOE, the requested forms of identification are:
- Driver's license number
- Non-driver’s ID number
- Last four digits of your social security number
- Current or valid photo ID
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Government check or paycheck
- Government document that shows name and address
HAVE YOU BEEN TOLD YOUR REGISTRATION IS INACTIVE?
There is always a chance your voter registration has been marked inactive.
Per the NYC Board of Elections, a voter in inactive status who does not vote in two consecutive federal elections is, in the fifth year, removed from the list of registered voters. The voter must re-register in order to vote.
If there is any further issue, you should contact your local elections office.
RECENTLY REGISTERED BUT NOT IN THE SYSTEM?
If for any reason you are not in the system, take the following steps:
- Ask poll workers to check any surrounding systems for your name
- Ask to sign an affidavit swearing your eligibility
- Call or visit your local elections office if you are not being helped by poll workers
- Ask for an affidavit ballot and follow up afterwards to make sure it's counted. You may have to provide additional information.
STILL BEING TURNED AWAY FROM THE POLLS?
Remember to be calm and clear in your intentions. Don't get aggressive or overly frustrated. Make it clear you are there to exercise your right to vote. Then call local election officials to report any ill treatment by poll workers and to get help voting.
Per the New York City Board of Elections, if you believe that you are eligible, you can still vote. Ask for an affidavit ballot. After the election, the BOE will check its records. According to the BOE, your vote will be counted if you are indeed eligible to vote and are at the correct poll site. If not, you will receive a notice that you are not eligible, along with a registration application for future elections.
If you are still not getting satisfaction, you can call the following numbers:
- New York Election Hotline: 1-800-771-7755
- The U.S. Dept. of Justice Voting Rights Hotline: 1-800-253-3931
If you need further help, a coalition of civil rights groups have an election protection hotline to report issues. The hotline is supported by the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the NAACP, the League of Women Voters, Common Cause, and the Lawyer's Committee for Civil Rights.
- 1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
- 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
- 1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)
- 1-844-418-1682 (Arabic)
The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU) also has a Voting Team hotline (212-607-3300).
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