Election Protection

The New York State Office of the Attorney General is dedicated to protecting your voting rights and is here to answer your election-related questions and address any problems experienced by voters. Below are a list of frequently asked questions. If you have a question or concern that is not addressed, please contact our election hotline at 1-800-771-7755, or click on the “Election Hotline” button below to complete our web form.

Beware of anyone trying to talk you out of exercising your right to vote!

Both federal and state law prohibit any person from intimidating or attempting to intimidate any other individual from voting. Beware of any phone calls, mailings, or other media, including newspapers, TV, radio, or social media, that are trying to persuade you not to vote. If you have been a target of voter intimidation or misinformation, please report it to our office by calling 1-800-771-7755 or clicking on the “Election Hotline” button below.

The New York State Attorney General’s Office has recently received complaints from New York voters about deceptive robocalls trying to discourage them from voting by mail. These robocalls, as relayed by these complainants, contain blatant lies, including: that information derived from a mail-in ballot would be used by law enforcement and collection agencies, and that the Centers for Disease Control would use mail-in ballot information to carry out forced vaccinations. These statements are entirely false and clearly intended to dissuade individuals from accessing mail-in/absentee ballots in New York.

Written requests for election-related assistance through the Office’s web form may be submitted at any time, starting now and will be answered in the order received. The telephone hotline will open on October 24, 2020 and will be running between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM from Saturday, October 24th through Sunday, November 1st, and between 6:00 AM and 9:00 PM on Tuesday, November 3rd (Election Day). Volunteers will only answer hotline calls during these times. However, voicemails will also be returned in a timely fashion. Hotline calls and written requests for election-related assistance are processed by attorneys and staff in the Attorney General’s Office.


Election Hotline

Frequently Asked Questions
November 3, 2020 Election

Several general elections are being held, including the United States presidential election as well as certain congressional and state elections.

For specific details on elections in your area, you should call or check your local Board of Elections website for a sample ballot. To determine which elections you can participate in, you will need to know which election related districts you belong to based on where you live. This information is contained in your voter registration file.

If you live outside New York City, you can look up your voter registration file (as well as poll site information) by visiting the New York State Board of Elections website.

If you live in New York City, you can identify those elections in which you are eligible to vote by visiting the New York City Board of Elections website and inputting your street address (it will also show your poll site information). You can also separately check your New York City voter registration file. You will need to input your full name, date of birth, and zip code to retrieve your voter registration information.

If you live outside of New York City, you can check your registration status by consulting the New York State Board of Elections website, and providing your full name, date of birth, and zip code.

If you live in New York City, you can check your voter registration file through the New York City Board of Elections website. If you cannot find your registration status or the information retrieved is incorrect, you can call your local Board of Elections, or contact the New York Attorney General’s Office for assistance, including by calling our hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

If you are registering by mail, unregistered voters must have their registration forms postmarked 25 days before Election Day (October 9) and their local Board of Elections must receive their voter registration no later than 20 days before the election in which they seek to participate. If you registering in person, your voter registration form must be received by your local Board of Elections 25 days before Election Day (October 9).

You can register online through the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. Be sure to keep your confirmation email, which only confirms that your information was sent to the relevant Board of Elections for review. Contact your local Board of Elections if you haven't gotten a response within 6 weeks.

You can also obtain a Voter Registration Form from your local Board of Elections or at any one of the other following New York State agencies participating in the National Voter Registration Act:

  • Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services
  • City Universities of New York (CUNY)
  • Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
  • Department of Health - WIC Program
  • Department of Labor
  • Department of Social Services
  • Department of State
  • Division of Veterans’ Services
  • Military Recruiting Offices
  • Office for the Aging
  • Office of Mental Health
  • Office for People With Developmental Disabilities
  • State Universities of New York (SUNY)
  • Adult Career and Continuing Education Services-Vocational Rehabilitation (ACCES-VR)
  • Workers’ Compensation Board.

Alternatively, you can download the Voter Registration Form from the New York State Board of Elections website or call 1-800-FOR-VOTE to request the form.

Given the COVID-19 crisis, you can vote by the following methods:

  • by absentee ballot (returned by mail, or hand-delivered to your local Board of Elections Office or to an early voting or election day poll site);
  • in person during early voting; or
  • in person at your assigned poll site on Election Day.

For the November election, any New York voter can vote by absentee ballot due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Ordinarily, the absentee ballot process is also generally available to voters who:

(1) will be absent from their county of residence, or for New York City residents absent from New York City, on Election Day;
(2) have a temporary or permanent illness or disability;
(3) are the primary caregiver of an individual who has a temporary or permanent illness or disability;
(4) are patients at a Veterans’ Administration Hospital; and
(5) are detained in jail awaiting a Grand Jury action, or confined in prison for conviction on an offense other than a felony.

To ensure the safety of all voters during the COVID-19 crisis, the “temporary illness” justification (#2 above) has been expanded for the November election to include the potential for contracting or spreading a disease that may cause illness to the voter or to other members of the public. Note that Governor Cuomo provided for a similar expansion for the June primary election, but it only extended to elections on or before June 23, 2020. Therefore, even in you applied for and obtained an absentee ballot for the June 23, 2020 primary under the “temporary illness” justification due to COVID-19, you will need to apply again for an absentee ballot for the upcoming general election.

Any New York voter can request an absentee ballot to cast their vote. You can and should apply for your absentee ballot now! The sooner you request your absentee ballot, the more likely you are to receive it in time to cast your ballot by mail.

To obtain an absentee ballot, you must complete an absentee ballot application or call your local Board of Elections. You may download the application form from the New York State Board of Elections, and submit it to your local Board of Elections by mail, email, or fax using the contact information corresponding to your local Board of Elections, by October 27, 2020. If you request the absentee ballot by phone from your local Board of Elections, they will complete and submit an absentee application on your behalf.

The New York City Board of Elections has prepared its own online absentee ballot application portal and also allows voters to track the status of their ballot application.

The New York State Board of Elections has created a portal to link voters to their county’s online absentee ballot application, where available.

You may also request an absentee ballot in person at your your local Board of Elections by no later than November 2, 2020, the day before Election Day.

Absentee ballots will be mailed out to voters on a rolling basis after applications are processed, beginning on or about September 18, 2020.

If you are completing the PDF version of the New York State Absentee Ballot Application Form and are requesting the ballot because of the COVID-19 crisis, check “temporary illness or physical disability” in box 1. If your only basis to request an absentee ballot is the COVID-19 crisis, in box 2, mark for “General Election only.”

However, you may also have a separate independent basis that allows you to request an absentee ballot for more than one election or indefinitely. If your circumstances permit you to vote by absentee in an election after the November 2020 election (because you qualify for another excuse under New York’s Election Law), mark box 2 accordingly.

In boxes 3-5, input your name, date of birth, county of residence, and address where you live and are registered. In boxes 6-7, indicate the desired form of delivery for the ballot. In box 8, sign and date the form and then mail, fax, or e-mail it to your your local Board of Elections.

If you are mailing the absentee ballot application, it must be postmarked by October 27, 2020. If you are delivering the application to your your local Board of Elections in person, you must submit the application no later than November 2, 2020.

  • When you receive your absentee ballot, it should contain the following:
    1. an absentee ballot,
    2. an Oath/Security Envelope (the envelope that has a place for your signature and that the completed ballot goes in), and
    3. a Return Envelope (the envelope that the Oath/Security Envelope should be placed in; the Return Envelope is addressed to your county Board of Elections and should have a logo that reads, “Official Election Mail”).
  • Once you apply for and receive your ballot, mark the ballot according to your choices for each electoral contest, following the instructions on the ballot.
  • Once you have completed marking your ballot fold it up and place it in the Oath/Security Envelope.
  • Sign and date the outside of the Oath/Security Envelope.
  • Seal the Oath/Security Envelope. Do not use tape.
  • Place the Oath/Security Envelope in the Return Envelope.
  • Seal the Return Envelope. Do not use tape.

You may return your completed absentee ballot in any of the following ways:

  1. Put it in the mail ensuring it receives a postmark no later than November 3rd. Be sure to apply the necessary postage! When completed ballots are mailed, they must also be received by a voter’s local Board of Elections by November 10, 2020.
    • Voters who wait until Election Day to mail in their ballots must be aware of the posted collection times on collection boxes and at the Postal Service’s retail facilities. Therefore, on Election Day, ballots that were placed in mailboxes after the last posted collection time will not be postmarked until the following business day and therefore will not be counted even if received by a local Board of Election by November 10, 2020.
    • When mailing your completed ballot, the United States Postal Service recommends that voters allow enough time for ballots to be returned to their local Board of Elections. Mail your ballot in early!
  2. Bringing it to your your local Board of Elections no later than November 3rd by 9pm.
  3. Bringing it to an early voting poll site within your county between October 24, 2020 and November 1, 2020.
  4. Bringing it to a poll site within your county on November 3, 2020 by 9pm.
    • If you live in New York City, you can find your early voting or election day polling place by consulting the New York City Board of Elections website and typing in your address.
    • Outside of New York City, you can find your early voting or election day poll site by consulting the New York State Board of Elections website and entering the required information.

In New York, even if you request or cast and return an absentee ballot, you may still go to the polls and vote in person. New York Election Law recognizes that plans change. Local Boards of Election are required to check the poll book before canvassing any absentee ballot. If the voter comes to the poll site on Election Day or during the early voting period and votes in person, the absentee ballot is set aside and not counted. The in-person vote cast is counted instead.

Once your Board of Elections receives and processes your application, it will send you a ballot.

If you haven’t received your absentee ballot, contact your local Board of Elections. If you live in New York City, you may also want to consult the New York City Board of Elections website that allows voters to track the status of their ballot application.

If your local Board of Elections isn’t able to adequately address the problem, you can contact the New York Attorney General’s Office for assistance, including by calling our hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

Alternatively, if your absentee ballot fails to arrive by the start of early voting, plan to vote early. Do not wait until Election Day! Lines are likely to be shorter during the early voting period.

If you have received a robocall telling you that your voter information is not private, ignore it! Voting (whether by absentee or in person) does not cause your personal information to be shared with anyone! Anyone telling you that elections are used to crack down on warrants or tickets is trying to intimidate you and suppress your right to vote! Report these voter suppression attempts, or any similar attempts at harassment or intimidation, to the New York State Attorney General’s Office, including by calling our hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

You can vote in-person during the early voting period which runs from October 24, 2020 to November 1, 2020.

Voters in every county of the state except counties within New York City have the benefit of voting at any early voting poll site in their counties. To find your early voting poll site(s) and the hours that those poll sites will be open, check the website of your local Board of Elections or consult the New York State Board of Elections website and enter the required information.

Note, if you are a voter in New York City, the New York City Board of Elections has decided to assign you to a particular early voting poll site. As a result, to cast an effective early vote, you will need to visit the poll site assigned to you. In New York City, you can find your early voting poll site and its hours by consulting the New York City Board of Elections website, and typing in your address.

If you run into issues as you attempt to cast a ballot early, you can call your local Board of Elections, or contact the New York Attorney General’s Office for assistance, including by calling our hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

If you live in New York City, you can find your Election Day polling place by consulting the New York City Board of Elections website and typing in your address.

Outside of New York City, you can find your Election Day poll site by consulting the New York State Board of Elections website and entering the required information. Alternatively, you can call your local Board of Elections, or contact the New York Attorney General’s Office for assistance, including by calling our hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

On Election Day, November 3, 2020, all poll sites located in a jurisdiction with contested elections should be open from 6AM though 9PM.

Early voting hours can vary by early voting poll site so it is important to consult your local Board of Elections for details.

If you believe your polling location is improperly closed, you can call your local Board of Elections, or contact the New York Attorney General’s Office for assistance, including by calling our hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

If your name is not in the poll book when you arrive to vote, first confirm that you are at the correct polling location. You can use the steps summarized above to confirm your poll site or ask the inspector present at the polling location to confirm that you are at the right poll site for your address.

If you believe that you are at the correct location and that you are eligible to vote, you have the right to cast an affidavit ballot. Be sure to fill out the affidavit envelope fully and completely. After the election, the Board of Elections will check its records and the vote will be counted if you are eligible to vote and were at the correct poll site. If it is later determined that you were not eligible to vote at that polling location, you will receive a notice that your vote was not counted. However, if you were in fact eligible to vote at that polling location, and if you filled out the affidavit envelope completely, your Board should update your registration information for future elections. If your name was not in the poll book, or you run into any issues trying to cast an affidavit ballot, you can call your local Board of Elections, or contact the New York Attorney General’s Office for assistance, including by calling our hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

If you need some help because you are disabled or cannot read the ballot, federal law allows you to have a friend or relative assist you in the privacy booth. Election inspectors at the site are also ready to help you.

If moving within New York State: Registered New York voters that moved from one county to another in New York but have not yet updated their address on their voter registration are still eligible to vote in person. To cast an effective ballot, you must cast an affidavit ballot at the poll site assigned to your new current address. Be sure to fill out the ballot envelope fully and completely.

If you need to find the poll site assigned to your new current address, and you now live in New York City, check the New York City Board of Elections website, and type in your address.

For New Yorkers outside of New York City, to find your new poll site you can call your local Board of Elections, or contact the New York Attorney General’s Office for assistance, including by calling our hotline at 1-800-771-7755.

If moving to New York from out-of-state: If you have recently moved to New York from out of state, to be eligible to vote on November 3, 2020, you voter registration must be postmarked by October 9, 2020 and eceived by your local Board of Elections by October 14, 2020. In-person voter registration forms must be received by your local Board of Elections by October 9, 2020.

If you have a four-hour window when the polls are open, and you are not working (i.e. your shift ends at 5pm and polls are open until 9pm) then you cannot get paid time off to vote. If you do not have a four-hour window, you may claim up to two hours of paid time off.

To do so, you must notify your employer at least two working days prior to your intention to take paid time off to vote, but not more than ten working days. If your employer refuses to give you paid time off, please contact the New York Attorney General’s Office for assistance, including by calling our hotline at 1-800-771-7755.