Election Protection – Here are the Basics:

  1. Bring your phone with you to vote so you can call the election protection hotline if necessary and record any illegal activities if they occur.
  2. It is legal to photograph at polling sites — just not completed ballots.
  3. Keep your place in line. The lines may be long, but as long as you are in line when the polls close, you will be allowed to cast your ballot. If you leave the line, you may not be able to vote.
  4. Do everything you can to vote a regular ballot. Cast a provisional ballot only if you have no other option.
  5. Try to fix any problem you have in real time at your polling site rather than leave. Poll workers can help call local election officials if needed.
  6. And remember that most poll workers are trying their best under often difficult circumstances. Most problems are not intentional but a result of poor communications or paperwork confusion.

It is illegal for anyone to try to stop you from voting. If you experience any of the following, report it to Election Protection (866-687-8683) immediately:

  • Intimidation. This may include physically blocking entrance to voting, cursing at people waiting to vote, looking over people’s shoulders while they vote, questioning voters about their choices or citizenship status, asking for identification unnecessarily.
  • Coercion. This may include offering money to vote for a certain person, spreading false rumors about candidates or voting, displaying signs with false or misleading information, impersonating poll workers.
  • Threats. These may include comments such as “your family will be deported if you vote,” “you will be fired from your job if you vote,” “your kid won’t make the football team if you vote.”
  • False information about voting requirements.
  • People impersonating poll workers or election officials.

What to Do if You’re Told You’re Not on the Voter Roll:

  • Confirm that you are registered to vote.
  • Confirm that you are at the right polling place.
  • If you are registered and at the right site don’t leave! Call the Election Protection hotline at 1-866-687-8683 and ask for help voting.
  • Did you recently move? If so, you may still be registered where you used to live. Check with a poll worker to see if you can update your registration and vote a regular ballot where you are. Otherwise, you may need to vote at your old polling location or at a central polling place.

Know Voter Identification Laws for New York State:

Registered voters DO NOT need to show identification to vote in New York State.

First time voters must provide identification either on or with their voter registration application. If you have not provided ID by Election Day, you are still allowed to vote by affidavit ballot, but not using the poll site scanner.

Acceptable ID includes entering one of the following on your Voter Registration Application:

  • Driver’s license number
  • Non-driver’s ID number
  • Last four digits of your social security number

If you do not provide your driver’s license number or the last four digits of your social security number on your registration form, you can include a copy of any of the following documentation with your registration application:

  • Current and Valid Photo ID
  • Current Utility Bill
  • Bank Statement
  • Government Check or Paycheck
  • Government Document that shows Name and Address

Provisional Ballots & When to Use Them:

A provisional ballot is a type of ballot that some voters may need to cast if election officials can’t confirm that the voter meets all the requirements to vote. The ballot is called “provisional” because it will only be counted if the election officials are able to verify later that the voter meets the voting requirements.

If possible, try not to cast a provisional ballot. Provisional ballots are, in essence, back up votes. These ballots are supposed to be counted when the eligibility of the voter is confirmed, however, it can be difficult to find out if that has happened. In New York, your votes on a provisional ballot cast outside your correct polling location will count only for those races for which the voter would have been eligible had they voted in the right precinct.

If you encounter a problem on election day and are told you aren’t allowed to vote, tell the election worker you would like to vote a provisional ballot:

  • Ask for written instructions about what you must do to ensure the provisional ballot will be counted.
  • Ask for a phone number you can call to confirm if your vote was counted.

If you had to cast a provisional ballot, it may not be too late to make your vote count. The poll worker should have given you a piece of paper with instructions on how to make your ballot count. If you don’t have those instructions, call your local election official and ask the following four questions:

  1. Why was I required to vote a provisional ballot?
  2. What documentation do I need to provide to make my vote count?
  3. Where should I bring or send that documentation? Do you accept it by email? Can a friend or family member bring the document to you on my behalf?
  4. What is the deadline I need to be sure to provide my documentation before?

Errors on a Mail-in Ballot & How to “Cure”:

If you make a mistake on your mail-in ballot envelope (for example, you forget to sign the envelope, or the election official can’t read your handwriting) the election official may require you to “cure” that mistake before they will count the ballot. This is called ballot curing.

In New York, if an error is found on your mail-in ballot, county boards of elections must now notify the voter, explain why their ballot was rejected, and provide a form through which they may “cure” the mistake. The notification will tell you what information you need to provide to make the cure (such as signing a new ballot envelope or providing a copy of your ID) and the deadline for submitting that information.

The “cure” form must be completed and returned within seven days of notification.

Contact your local election official to check the status of your mail ballot to see if it has been counted or may need to be cured. You can also reach out directly to your local election official to simply ensure they received your ballot and will count it.

When voting by mail and hoping to avoid the curing process altogether, voters should ensure both the return envelope and inner “oath” envelope are fully sealed, and that the inner one is signed and correctly dated.

© Albany Proper, Inc.

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