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Facts and Myths

From Campus Voting Project: “According to the U.S. Supreme Court, students have the right to register and vote in their college towns if they meet the same requirements as everyone else. Misinformation, such as claims that registering to vote at school may jeopardize eligibility for financial aid or insurance, are sometimes used to discourage students from voting locally.” 

http://campusvoteproject.org/new-york

This information has been extensively researched and, to the best of our knowledge, it is accurate and up-to-date. However, election law is constantly changing. In order to ensure you have all the information you need before casting your vote, consider checking with your state and local election officials for information about updates in requirements or regulations. Additionally, the preparers of this information are not licensed legal professionals, and this information should not be used as a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in your state.

All States

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In most states, you can check online with your state Board of Elections. There are also websites that assist you in confirming your registration, such as http://www.canivote.org

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Check your state's regulations.

Many states,  including New York, have provisions allowing victims of domestic violence to keep their voter registration information (and other normally public information) confidential. They may also vote by absentee ballot rather than going to the polls. A list of states with these protective laws can be found at http://nnedv.org/downloads/SafetyNet/NNEDV_ACPChart_2013.pdf (updated in 2013). Check your state’s Board of Elections for the most-up-to-date information. For details of New York’s provisions for victims of domestic violence, see http://www.elections.ny.gov/FAQ.html  N.Y. Election Law (5-508) 11-306)   

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In most states, 17-year-olds may go ahead and register to vote if they will be 18 by General Election Day. Some states allow 17-year-olds to vote in Primaries, as long as they will be 18 by Election Day. http://www.fairvote.org/primary_voting_at_age_17#facts_17_year_old_primary_voting

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Yes! Your tuition status does not affect your eligibility to vote (nor will registering to vote locally qualify you for in-state tuition). http://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/student-voting-guide-faq#aid

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No! You can’t be dropped for registering to vote. This is typically used as an intimidation tactic to suppress the vote. https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/student-voting-guide-faq#insurance

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No! You can vote even if you owe money (such as child support, parking tickets, rent, utilities, home foreclosure) and you CANNOT be arrested or prosecuted at the polls for these debts. Threatening people with these kinds of unpaid debts is a common and illegal voter suppression tactic. http://www.civilrights.org/voting-rights/2008/myths.html;  for NY, see N.Y. Elec. Law §5-106

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The fact that you registered to vote and that you voted, along with your address and party affiliation, are considered public information (although not necessarily easy to access). Your vote itself is anonymous, however.  

(You may want to know that certain other records are public information, such as driver’s license, driver records, court decisions, real estate transactions, etc. Most states are required by law to keep especially sensitive information, such as your social security number http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/crsreports/crsdocuments/RL30318_02082012.pdf and your birthdate confidential  http://www.law.umaryland.edu/marshall/crsreports/crsdocuments/RL30318_02082012.pdf)                              

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“First, make sure you are at the right polling place. (Your registered address determines the location at which you vote.) If you are at the correct location and are not on the list, you can still cast a ballot. Ask the poll worker for a provisional ballot. After the polls close on Election Day the state will check on the status of your voter registration and decide whether your vote will be counted. The state must notify you as to whether your ballot was counted. If you have a problem voting and think your rights have been denied, call Election Protection at (866) OUR- VOTE. There will be lawyers there to help.” http://www.rockthevote.com/get-informed/elections/frequently-asked-questions;  also http://www.866ourvote.org/issues/provisional-balloting

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As a student, you have a constitutional right to register and vote at your college address or your family's address - whichever place you consider to be home. That can be your family’s house, your apartment, or your dorm room.  “Misinformation - such as claims that registering to vote at school may jeopardize eligibility for financial aid or insurance - are sometimes used to discourage students from voting locally.” (http://campusvoteproject.org/new-yorkNote, however, that you select only one place in which to vote: you can’t vote from both your family’s home and at your college home.       This is the law in all states; here are references to the New York law: Williams v. Salerno, 792 F.2d 323, 327 (2d Cir. 1986); see also N.Y. Elec. Law § 1-104(22).

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Yes! It can be confusing but there are numerous online sites that make it convenient for you to register and vote according to the regulations in your state. RIT has also partnered with TurboVote to make registering to vote and requesting an absentee ballot easier for students.

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“Where you register to vote will not affect federal financial aid such as Pell Grants and Perkins or Stafford loans or your dependency status regarding FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) (http://campusvoteproject.org/new-york). Occasionally, state and private scholarships are reserved for those who live in a particular location; however, voter registration is rarely considered to be definitive of residence for financial aid purposes. If in doubt, ask.  http://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/student-voting-guide-faq#aid

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Yes! Federal law provides that in all 50 states, homeless people can register and vote. They can list a shelter or even a street corner as their residence. They do need to provide a mailing address (which can be different from the registration address), which can be a shelter, organization, or anyone willing to accept mail on their behalf. http://www.nonprofitvote.org/voting-and-homelessness/; http://www.lwvny.org/advocacy/vote/RTVHomelessIndividuals.pdf

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The U.S. Constitution grants voting privileges in the general election to the states and the District of Columbia only, not to U.S. territories. Residents of Puerto Rico and other territories (American Somoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam) can vote in presidential primaries but not the general election.

Source: Factcheck.org

New York

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The New York’s voter registration form asks for your New York driver’s license or ID number, or the last four digits of your Social Security Number.  If you don’t provide this, you may be asked for ID at the polls. N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-303

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“Voting in New York may be considered evidence of your residency for purposes of the motor vehicle laws. New York residents have 30 days to register their vehicles and apply for a New York driver’s license.” http://campusvoteproject.org/new-york

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No.  Students are often told that registering to vote in a different state from their parents will make them lose their dependency status. This is not true. Where you register to vote will have no effect on your parent’s tax status. “http://campusvoteproject.org/new-york

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Yes, If you have finished your sentence.

In New York, people with felony convictions can vote after they are finished with incarceration and parole. Voting rights are automatically restored when incarceration/parole ends. No special permission is needed; just go ahead and re-register. (N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-106)

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Asbolutely.

Misdemeanors have no effect on voting rights in NY. People convicted of misdemeanors CAN vote even while incarcerated (absentee). (https://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/new-york-state-voting-faq; N.Y. Elec. Law § 5-106)

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Monroe County uses the Image Cast Optical Scan Voting Machine. It’s basically a sophisticated scanning device. You’ll complete a paper ballot and insert the ballot into the machine. Have a look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVgHcIO3xxs#t=151

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Depending on the election, ballots can be pretty confusing to complete. When in doubt, ask one of the poll workers to show you how to complete it correctly. Have a look here for more information: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hs-H_9wkKhs

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In 2008, NY State introduced new voting systems designed to provide increased opportunities for individuals with a wide-range of accessibility needs to vote privately and independently through the use of audio and tactile interfaces. Check out this video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ceTu-K76IA#t=21

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Maybe.

In NY, potential jurors are randomly selected from lists of registered voters, holders of drivers’ licenses or ID’s issued by the Division of Motor Vehicles, New York State income tax filers, recipients of unemployment insurance or family assistance, and from volunteers. http://www.nyjuror.gov/juryQandA.shtml#Q2

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Yes.

You are innocent until proven guilty. If you are in jail awaiting trial, you may vote by absentee ballot. (http://www.nydlc.com/live/Voter_Bill_of_Rights_NYDLC.pdf ; N.Y. Elec. Law §8-400(d)).

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  • IF YOU ARE MOBILITY CHALLENGED: Many but not all polls are handicapped accessible. Contact your local board of elections to see if your voting place is accessible. If it is not, you have the right to have a ballot brought out to you (such as a nearby parking lot) and to vote privately there. HAVA §301(a)(3) . You can also vote by absentee ballot.
  • IF YOU CANNOT READ THE BALLOT (BLINDNESS, NON-ENGLISH SPEAKERS, ETC.):In many places, ballots must be made available in Spanish, Chinese, and Korean 28 C.F.R. §55.355.4(2)(b); Voting Rights Act §4(f)(4), 203(c).  You or a helper can check ahead of time with your local Board of Elections. In all states, you are also entitled to bring an assistant with you, as long as your assistant is not your employer or a union representative. Alternatively, you may receive assistance from pollworkers. In this case, you’ll be assisted by election officals from two different political parties, in order to insure unbiased help.  (N.Y. Elec. Law § 8306(1)(5); Voting Rights Act § 208)
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If you have moved within the same election district, you have the right to vote on a machine in that election district. If you have moved within your county (or within New York City) you have the right to vote at the polling place for your new address by “Affidavit Ballot.”N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-302(3)(b)

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Generally, you do not need to bring ID to vote in New York. You simply sign your name, which will be compared with the signature the Board of Elections has on file. If, however, you did not provide ID when you registered to vote, you will be asked to provide ID the first time you vote at the polls. Acceptable ID  at the polls includes a (i) current and valid photo identification such as a student ID, or (ii) current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck, or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.  N.Y. Elec. Law § 8-303.

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Political party enrollment is optional but in order to vote in a primary election of a political party, a voter must enroll in that political party, unless state party rules allow otherwise. Currently, the democratic and republican parties' primaries are closed so only registered members of the respecitve parties can vote in their primaries. So, students who want to vote in a primary election in New York should plan to declare a party affiliation when registering.