Before your voice can be heard in this year’s election, you must register to vote.
“The biggest problem in New York state is that you have to register several weeks before to vote so we have people show-up last minute and realize they can’t vote. And the second most confusing thing for voters is the change of address process. If you have changed in within the last 21 days, you have to use an affidavit ballot ” said Dustin Czarny, the Democratic Commissioner with the Onondaga County Board of Elections.
An affidavit ballot is a different ballot that voters use only if they have changed their address within the last 21 days before Election Day.
Nov. 4 is Election Day.
Here is at look at who can vote in this state-wide election and how you can register:
Are you eligible?
There are six requirements for eligible voters, according to the New York State Board of Elections website. To register, you:
- Must be an U.S citizen
- Must be 18 years old by Dec. 31, 2014
- Must have lived at your current address at least 30 days before Nov. 4, 2014
- Are not in prison or on parole for a conviction
- Have not been determined to be mentally incompetent by any court
- Cannot have claimed the right to vote somewhere else
How to Register?
There are four ways that you can register to vote: through the New York State Board of Elections, through the Onondaga County Board of Elections, through New York state agencies that also serve as voter registration centers, or online through the websites of the Onondaga County Board of Elections or the New York State Board of Elections. Both have voter-registration forms that can be downloaded.
If you decide to register through the Onondaga County Board of Elections, you can download the registration form or contact the board to receive a form by mail at (315)435-3312. Or you can visit at 1000 Erie Blvd. West., Syracuse, N.Y. 13204.
Another option is the New York State Board of Elections. You can call its hotline to request a voter registration form at (800)361-2629 or download the form directly from the website. You download, print and fill-in the firm, then mail it to your county board of elections. That same form can also be filled-in through an online PDF, allowing you to type-write the information first, print, then sign and send to your county board of elections.
Lastly, potential voters can register to vote at many New York state agencies. They include state departments of health, labor, social service and SUNY. A complete list of agencies can be found at http://www.elections.ny.gov/NVRA.html.
Dustin Czarny, the Democratic commissioner with the Onondaga Board of Elections, suggests that you send forms directly to the Onondaga County Board of Elections because there is a slight risk that the state agencies may not send your forms to the elections board in time.
“We see that sometimes but not a lot,” said Czarny.
Czarny also said that if you are in doubt about being registered and unsure of your processed forms, contact the board of elections and someone there can check.
There are five important deadline dates for voter registration. These dates include deadlines for primary elections, the general election and absentee-ballot registration and voting deadlines.
The state and local primary deadline is still unsettled, so the registration deadline for the primary is also still unsettled, said Tom Connolly, the deputy director of public information for the New York State Board of Elections.
The tentative primary date is Sept. 9, said Connolly, but the elections board is awaiting approval of the political calendar by the state legislature.
The New York federal primary is June 24, 2014. To register to vote in it, you must have your mail-in registration post-marked by May 30, 2014, or take your ballot to the county board of elections by then.
General Election Deadline
The general election is Nov. 4, 2014. Deadlines to register to vote in the general election:
- Mailed registration must be postmarked by Oct. 10, 2014.
- In-person registration forms must be received by Oct. 10, 2014. Honorably discharged military personnel or newly naturalized citizens may register at the board of elections until Oct. 24, 2014.
A couple of weeks after you are registered, a mail-check card will come to your home telling you where your polling place is located.
The last step of the process is now to vote.
(Shantinique Brooks is a senior majoring in broadcast and digital journalism with a minor in political science.)