NEW YORK — Ahead of New Yorkers heading to the polls for the 2020 general election, we’ve been receiving questions about the process and how to vote safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

Here are answers to some of the questions you submitted to us on social media. (the questions were edited lightly for grammar and context):

Q: How do I find my polling site?

A: Your polling site is assigned based on your address. To find out where your local poll site is, click here.

Remember: you need to be registered to vote to cast your ballot.

If you haven't updated your address with your local elections office, you may be challenged at the polls. You can update your address if you moved within the city, and a poll worker can help either direct you to the right polling place or update your address.

Q: What do you need to bring with you?

A: New Yorkers simply need to go to their polling site and sign next to their name on the voter roll. Some states have voter ID laws, requiring an identification card or some other document to establish identity, but that is not required in the Empire State. Voter IDs are a hot-button topic in the United States, but elected officials throughout New York have made it clear that people do not have to show identification to exercise their right to vote.

But there is one exception: if you did not provide ID when you registered to vote the first time, you will need to bring ID and vote by affidavit ballot. According to the New York City Board of Elections, the accepted 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

Q: Will there be drop-off boxes for absentee ballots at the polling stations?

A: Yes, there will be drop-off boxes for absentee ballots at every voting site. You can drop off your signed absentee ballot at your local Board of Elections office or a poll site no later than 9 p.m. on November 3.

Q: Can we check poll wait times online?

A: No. Unfortunately, the city BOE does not yet have the capacity to check poll wait times online.

Q: Can I bring my dog to a polling station?

A: Generally speaking, pets are not allowed at polling sites, but if your dog helps with handicap accessibility, they should be allowed to accompany you.

Q: Will my vote really count?

A: Yes. Some voters have expressed reduced confidence in the voting process due to efforts by critics, such as President Donald Trump, to undermine it. But by law your ballot has to be counted if you fill it out properly.

Voting in person could arguably be easier because poll workers can help you on the spot to make sure you fill out your ballot properly. Absentee ballots must be filled out even more carefully in order to be counted, but even though they have a higher chance of being invalidated for small errors, your vote must be counted if it’s cast according to the rules.

Q: I was wondering about the scanners at the polls. There was talk before the pandemic of the BOE buying new ones which also print, and are vulnerable to hacking/vote changing. I think they are called ES&S? Were they purchased?

A: No, the city Board of Elections has not purchased those ExpressVote XL machines from Election Systems and Software, or ES&S. Those scanners will not be used this election cycle.

The New York State Board of Elections earlier this year was determining if it would allow the machines to operate in New York. The machines drew criticisms for malfunctions in Northampton County, Pennsylvania, in fall 2019, when some voters’ selections were not registering properly.

"The box was down here in the right corner. So a lot of the Democrats, when they went to hit that box, down in the right corner, were right next to the Republican side. The Republican side was lighting up as a result," said Amy Cozze, the chief registrar of Northampton County.

Thirty percent of the 320 machines malfunctioned when voters in the county cast their ballots on the ExpressVote XL machines for the first time. ES&S called it human error.

In 2018, NY1 exclusively revealed ES&S was paying for Michael Ryan, the leader of the city BOE, to attend conferences across the country.

Last year, Ryan made a pitch for the city to use the ExpressVote XL during early voting, even before the state was done testing it.


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