Voting FAQ

Those voting machines can be tricky buggers. Here's what you should know before you hit theprecinct, including where to find it.

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How do I find my voting location?


The Board of Elections in the City of New York has got your back. Search online (vote.nyc.ny.us/pollingplaces.html) for where to vote based on your street address, or call 866-VOTE-NYC. Or, if you e-mail your address to vote@boe.nyc.ny.us, you can get your polling location sent by e-mail.

Is it too late to register?


If you haven’t registered by now, you better hope Diddy was kidding about that whole “Vote or Die” thing. According to the NYC Voter Assistance Commission (nyc.gov/html/vac), your registration form has to be postmarked 25 days before the election, or no “I voted” sticker for you.

What ID do I have to bring?


Most people have already provided identification (like a driver’s license number or Social Security digits) on their voter registration form, so they don’t have to bring anything to their polling place except their political prowess. If you didn’t provide ID when you registered, you still get to vote, but you’ll have to bring some form of current ID, like a driver’s license, bank statement or utility bill.

Wait, what are we voting on?


Looking at a sample ballot will tell you who’s campaigning for what and lets you preview the referenda up for vote, which gives you time to do your homework (or to do several rounds of eenie, meenie, minie, mo). Enter your address at Vote-NY (vote-ny.org to see a custom sample ballot for your district. Then you can google the candidates and decide who’s attractive—er, intelligent—enough to win your support.

Can I write in a name?


Yup. You can vote for whomever you want: Obama, McCain, Joe the Plumber, TONY editor Michael Freidson. The Board of Elections in the City of New York’s website (vote.nyc.ny.us/voting.html) has step-by-step instructions for write-ins, plus a video that demonstrates how to work the voting machine in general—they can be tricky buggers.

Can I wear my Obama or McCain shirt to the polls?


“No political banner, button, poster or placard shall be allowed in or upon the polling place or within such one hundred foot radial,” says NY State election law. That technically includes clothing, too, so leave the "Certified McCainiac" shirt and "Obama Mama" pin at home.

Will there be an exit poll?


As if voting weren't excitement enough, you might be asked to participate in an exit poll—a survey taken from people exiting after they’ve pulled the lever. “A sample of precincts are scientifically selected to collectively represent a state, or for the national exit poll, the nation,” according to Edison Media Research (exit-poll.net/exit_polling.html), the company that does the polling for all of the big news channels.

Will anyone know that I voted?


“Yes, the county board keeps a history for a minimum of five years,” says Rob Brehm, deputy director of public information for the New York State Board of Elections. When you show up to vote, you’ll sign your name in a book of the registered voters in that area—that’s proof that you were at the polling place, and the county board’s history is public information. So if you’re on the lam, voting is not the best idea, no matter how much you care about your assemblyman.

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