The 2020 Elections: Make Your Voice Heard
- Check your registration status
- Register to vote by October 9, 2020
- Make a voting plan: absentee (mail in), early voting, at the polls on Election Day
- Voter Registration deadline: October 9, 2020
- Absentee Ballot application deadline: October 27, 2020
- Early Voting period: October 24 - November 1, 2020
- General Election Day: November 3, 2020
Check Your Registration Status
- Check your voter registration status to verify that you are registered and make sure that your voter information is updated and accurate.
- You can also contact your county Board of Elections to ensure that you are registered.
Register to Vote by October 9, 2020Representative democracy works better when more eligible New Yorkers register and vote. US citizens who are 18 years or older can register (you may pre-register at 16 or 17 but cannot vote until you are 18). You may register to vote online, by mail, or in-person at your county Board of Elections.
- If you have a DMV-issued license, permit, or identification card, you can register to vote online via the Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Or you can download, fill out, print, sign and mail a form:
- Request a registration form be mailed to you by the NYS Board of Elections.
- You may also call the Board of Elections hotline to request a voter registration form at 1-800-FOR-VOTE (1-800-367-8683).
- For CUNY students: By September 24, you can request a voter registration form be mailed to your home.
Confirm Your Status
- Once you are registered, you should receive a confirmation postcard in the mail after about two weeks. As a newly registered voter, you should confirm your voter information using the State Board of Elections voter look-up tool.
Make a Voting PlanOnce you are registered, how do you want to cast your ballot? This year, voters may choose between voting in-person during the early voting period, voting in-person on Election Day, or voting through the mail using an absentee ballot.
- As with all our public activities these days, voters should wear a face mask and maintain social distance.
- Early Voting: Avoid longer lines, skip the post office, and cast your ballot during NY's Early Voting period. This year, the early voting period is October 24 through November 1. Every county must have at least one early voting polling place.
- Election Day: Voters can still go to the polls on Election Day, Tuesday, November 3 and cast their ballot between 6AM and 9PM.
- Look up your poll sites for Early Voting and for Election Day (your assigned early voting poll site may not be the same location as your Election Day poll site)
- Absentee Voting: Due to COVID, any voter can request an absentee ballot this year by filling out an application. Once your application is accepted, you will receive a hard-copy ballot through the mail. You can then complete your ballot and drop it off or mail it in. Your absentee ballot must be postmarked or dropped off no later than November 3. You may also apply by visiting or contacting your local county Board of Elections.
- *NEW*: NYC voters can now track their absentee ballot application here.
Over the past four decades, NYPIRG’s non-partisan voter mobilization campaign has guarded and fought to expand the rights of voters in New York through community outreach, advocacy, media work and litigation. Our work has resulted in:
- Thousands of new voters registered every year.
- Expansion of absentee voting, particularly during the pandemic.
- An expansion to the state’s “Motor Voter” law, which requires all state agencies to offer a voter registration option at the point of using the agency.
- Sample ballots available online to help familiarize voters and speed up election day lines.
- Inclusion of email addresses on New York City voter registration forms.
NYPIRG supports voter reforms, including:
- Establishing Online Voter Registration. New York’s requirement for ink signatures on paper voter registration forms has caused major voter disenfranchisement across New York State. The technology to accept digital registration forms exists already. It is high time to allow for online voter registration.
- Improved Absentee Voting: We support no-excuse absentee ballot access. Additionally, as NYC has recently done, all local NY Boards of Election should allow voters to track their ballots – in the same way as mail delivery purchases are tracked now. This provides confidence in the system and allows for additional time to make alternative plans if needed.
- Enhanced early voting participation. Since voting is a habit that must be ingrained and supported in the early years of eligibility—which coincide with typical college years—New York should cultivate this habit by supporting voting by students on campus. A recent report by the Andrew Goodman Foundation studied the impact of Early Voting Sites for college students. Not surprisingly, it found that locating polls on campus led to considerably higher rates of participation by students, people of color and infrequent voters.
- Codifying Voter Rights for Parolees: New York allows individuals on probation from local correctional facilities to register and vote, but only allows those on parole for New York State felony convictions to register and vote after they receive a Gubernatorial pardon. Studies indicate that community ties, jobs and restoration of civil rights are associated with reduced recidivism rates. Governor Cuomo signed an Executive Order to restore voting rights to felons on parole by considering pardons for those who enter the parole system each month. Codifying voter rights for parolees into state law will protect the order from future attacks and will provide clarity to recent parolees.
- Allowing voters to register and vote on Election Day. In the interim, New York State should shorten the registration and change of enrollment deadlines to 10 days before the election, the current minimum under the State Constitution.
- Elimination of the patronage-controlled Boards of Elections, starting with the merit selection of permanent Board employees across the state.
- Codifying case law with respect to students voting from a campus-area address.
- Guidelines for better ballots. Poor ballot design can affect every voter at a poll site. Miniscule fonts, unnecessary graphics and unreadable directions result in spoiled ballots and longer wait times for all.
- Improved poll worker performance. Voters should come first on Election Day. Unfortunately, for too many, the patronage structure of the Boards puts party loyalty first and public service second. New York can improve poll site conditions immediately by offering time off for state and city employees working the polls, and professionalizing poll worker training so that only qualified and trained staff work the polls.