The 2020 Elections: Make Your Voice Heard

Voting Booths
All eyes are on the 2020 elections, which will impact the history of this nation and the world. In New York, due to the disruption created by the pandemic, new and seasoned voters alike will be faced with an unfamiliar voting system with shifting guidance from elections administrators. NYPIRG is committed to ensuring that political participation is promoted, voter rights are safeguarded, and access to voter polls — whether by mail or in person — is ensured for all eligible New Yorkers.
Be ready for the 2020 elections:

Important Dates:

  • 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 and Find Your Poll Site

  • Check your voter registration status to verify that you are registered and make sure that your voter information is updated and accurate. If you recently registered, or updated your registration, changes may take a few weeks to appear on the website.
    If your registration status is found, you can also look up your poll site for both the early voting period and for Election Day. Your poll site for early voting may be different than your poll site on Election Day. Poll sites and hours of operation vary by county for early voting.
  • You can also contact your county Board of Elections to ensure that you are registered.

Make a Voting Plan

Once you are registered to vote, how do you want to cast your ballot? This year, New York voters can choose between these three options:

1. Voting in person during the early voting period:

  • You can avoid longer lines and skip the post office by casting your ballot during New York's early voting period. Look up your early voting poll site here.
  • This year, the early voting period is October 24 through November 1.
  • Every county must have at least one early voting poll site.

2. Voting in person on Election Day:

  • You can go to the polls on Election Day (Tuesday, November 3) and cast your ballot between 6 AM and 9 PM.

*Your assigned early voting poll site may not be the same location as your Election Day poll site. Look up your poll sites for early voting and for Election Day.

*As with all public activities these days, in-person voters should wear a face mask and maintain social distance.

3. Voting by mail using an absentee ballot:

  • This year, due to COVID-19, any voter can request an absentee ballot by filling out an online application (select the “temporary illness or physical disability” reason on the application).
  • You can also download an absentee ballot application (in English or Spanish), and get additional information and instructions, from the New York State Board of Elections absentee voting webpage.
  • Or you can apply for an absentee ballot by visiting or contacting your county Board of Elections.
  • 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.
  • If mailed in, your ballot must be postmarked no later than November 3. You must add stamps to mail your ballot for this election. While weights may differ by county, advocates are suggesting at least two forever stamps to meet the weight requirements.
  • Your ballot can be dropped off at a county Board of Elections office no later than November 3 by 9 PM.
  • Your ballot can also be dropped off at an early voting poll site from October 24 through November 1, or at an Election Day poll site on November 3 by 9 PM. Look up poll sites for early voting and for Election Day.
  • NEW: If you are a New York City voter, you can now track your absentee ballot application.
USPS recommends that voters mail their absentee ballot about seven days ahead of the general election. All absentee ballots must be postmarked by November 3, 2020.
You can still vote in person if you request an absentee ballot. Even if you request or cast (fill out and return) an absentee ballot, you may still go to the polls and vote in person. NY Election Law recognizes that plans change. The Board of Elections is required to check the poll book before canvassing any absentee ballot. If the voter comes to the poll site, on Election Day or during early voting and votes in person, the absentee ballot is set aside and not counted.
**ALERT** Some Brooklyn voters who requested absentee ballots received ballot envelopes with the wrong information. Check your ballots today and see this response from the NYC BOE with action steps to make sure your vote is not thrown out.

Our Impact

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.