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Everything you need to know about voting in the 2020 general election

Including how to vote, ways to vote and what you'll be voting for this fall.

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Written by
Shaye Weaver
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With a lot on the line this election year with a major presidential race, exercising our right to vote is a must.

This year is unlike any other with a global pandemic occurring, so voting in person isn't possible for everyone. That's why New York State has pushed through election reforms that allow any New Yorker to get an absentee ballot and set requirements for the Board of Elections to make sure they're counted.   

It's best to know what to expect before you cast your ballot, and with today being National Voter Registration Day, we thought we'd help by answering some common questions.

How can I register to vote and by when do I need to?

You can register online or at your county board of elections by October 9. You can also request a registration form by mail here.

You will need a New York state driver’s license, permit, or non-driver ID card, a ZIP code currently on record with the DMV, and your social security number. 

When can I vote?

Tuesday, November 3, from 6am to 9pm.

But early voting is between October 24 and November 1. Dates and hours may vary based on where you live.

Absentee applications must be postmarked by October 27, or you can apply in person by November 2. Ballots must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received within seven days after Election Day (that's November 10). Those ballots received on November 4 (the day after Election Day) without a postmark must also be counted.

How can I vote?

In person: You can find your polling site here

Mail-in ballot/Absentee ballot: 

  • Apply online or email your application in PDF format to Apply4Absentee@boe.nyc 
  • Fax your application to 212-487-5349
  • Mail it to your local borough office
  • Call 1-866-VOTE-NYC (1-866-868-3692)

Can I vote via mail-in ballot if I'm worried about COVID-19?

Yes. When requesting a ballot, just mark the box for "temporary illness," which has been expanded by the state to include "a risk of contracting or spreading a disease" such as COVID-19.

What do I need to vote?

If you've voted in New York before, you won't need to provide an ID to vote.

If you're a first-time voter who registered by mail and didn't provide a copy of your ID with your registration, you may need to show ID to vote. (Acceptable forms include: a current and valid photo ID; or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government documents that shows your name and address.)

Voters without ID: If you are unable to provide ID, you will be able to vote an affidavit ballot.

How will I know that my mail-in ballot is counted?

The Board of Elections now has an online ballot tracker, which you can use by putting in your confirmation code and last name. It’s not a guarantee but at least you can keep track of your ballot.

And if you don't want to mail in your ballot, you can drop it off at your poll site or your local Board of Elections office. The drop-off box will be red, white and blue with instructions that say “drop off your absentee ballot here.” On the side of the box, it will say “Vote Safe NYC” and have an image of the Statue of Liberty wearing a blue mask and the board of election’s red white and blue “Vote NYC” logo, according to the New York Post.

What’s on the ballot this year?

  • President
  • Congress
  • Queens Borough President
  • State Senate
  • State Assembly
  • NYC Council District 37
  • NYS Supreme Court
  • NYC Civil Courts

You can see who specifically is on your ballot this year at ballotpedia.com

What is the Board of Elections doing to make polling sites safe?

The CDC is recommending that the BOE requires everyone to wear a mask and keep their distance. Surfaces should be cleaned between uses and shared objects like pens should be replaced with single-use objects. You can read more about that here. 

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