Stephen Reader covers politics for It's a Free Country, WNYC's interactive politics site. He joined the station in 2010 and has also worked for Studio 360, WNYC's Peabody Award-winning show about art, culture, and creativity.
Registering to Vote is Easy!
Monday, September 27, 2010
So you want to vote. But you’re not registered. Don’t freak out! You still have until October 8th to get in on the action in New York. (The deadline is October 12 in New Jersey and in Connecticut, mail-in forms have to be postmarked by October 19 or you can register in person until October 26.)
The process literally takes about 10 minutes. To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be a citizen of the United States (Includes those persons born in Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands).
- Be a resident at your address for at least 30 days.
- Be 18 years of age before the next election.
- Not be serving a jail sentence or be on parole for a felony conviction.
- Not be adjudged mentally incompetent by a court.
- Not claim the right to vote elsewhere.
If you meet these requirements, then the hard part is over. Lasting 30 days in New York City is much more difficult than filling out the registration form.
You'll need to fill out an application that doesn't ask for much more than a name and address. You can submit this application in person at one of the Board of Elections offices, or by mail – if the latter, the form must be delivered or postmarked by October 8th. You can download the application from the NYC Board of Elections website; call the Phone Bank to have a postage-paid form delivered to you by mail; or get one from any library, post office, and most NYC government agencies.
When you register, you will also have the opportunity to select a political party affiliation. This is optional, but committing to a party does allows you to vote in future primary elections.
In order to verify your identity, the Board will need you to provide your DMV number (driver’s license number or non-driver ID number), or the last four digits of your social security number.
Don’t have a license or a social security card? The following documents are also accepted:
- Valid photo ID
- Current utility bill
- Bank statement
- Government check
- Any other government document showing name and address
Bring a copy of one of these forms with you to the registration office, or mail it in with your application. That’s it! You’ve registered to vote.
You should receive a registration card within 4 to 6 weeks of completing your application. Normally, you’ll need to have this card with you at the polls, but it’s all right if you don’t get yours by Election Day; just be sure to bring one of those valid forms of ID when you go to pull the lever feed the voting machine.