What is affidavit voting? Do I have to show my ID? Polling woes leave New Yorkers asking questions

NEW YORK — Amid problems at polling places across the city, New Yorkers are finding themselves facing unexpected obstacles in their effort to vote.

PIX11 breaks down some of the questions voters have today:

What is an affidavit ballot?

An affidavit ballot is a paper ballot used when a voter's name is not listed at their designated polling place. Their name could have been removed if their voting status has become inactive. Voters this morning have been complaining of this problem.

If you are registered to vote but your name is not listed in the poll book at your voting location, you have the right to vote by affidavit ballot. This is a different paper ballot than the one you put into the scanner and it must be filled out completely, along with its envelope.

Mike Ryan, executive director of the NYC Board of Elections, told PIX11 News that if a voter's name is not listed at their polling place, they should vote by affidavit ballot. He said all affidavit ballots that are correctly filled out and submitted will be counted.

"Their vote will be counted and they won't be disenfranchised," Ryan said. "If it turns out they thought they were registered and they really weren't, that will serve as registration for the next time."

If voting by affidavit ballot, you will receive a notice from the Board of Elections after the election telling you whether your affidavit was valid — meaning, if your vote counts, WYNC reported.

Ryan said the thousands of voters who had to vote by affidavit during the June primary have been restored to active, registered status.

ID and voter ID 

If you have previously voted in New York, you do not need to provide ID to vote in person. No ID is required to vote by mail. Poll workers were asking voters for their ID at various locations Tuesday, and some took to social media to complain.

First-time voters may need to show some form of ID if they didn't provide it at the time they registered. They could be expected to show one of the following when voting in person: a New York driver's license or state ID card OR a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or government document that shows your name, address and when they registered.

Do I have to register to vote every year?

No. Register once and you will always be registered unless:

  • You are purged from the system: a voter is considered to be inactive and is effectively purged from the system in the fifth year when they do not vote in two consecutive federal elections. The voter must register with their most current address in order to vote again.
  • You are convicted of a felony.
  • A court deems you mentally incompetent.

You cannot vote online.

Votes cannot be cast online or by text message in any state.

If you see an ad or post prompting you to text your vote or vote online, several hotlines are available to alert proper authorities.

Call the New York State Attorney General at 1-800-771-7755 or email civil.rights@ag.ny.gov

Call the United States Attorney's Office Southern District at the following numbers:

  • Voters in Manhattan, Bronx, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester counties: (646) 369-4739
  • Voters in Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk counties: (718) 254-6323

How common are these polling problems?

Ryan said long lines and heavy turnout were expected. The Board of Elections expects at least two million voters Tuesday.

"People are excited about this election for one reason or another, and they're showing up to vote," Ryan said. "That's a sign of a robust democracy."

He explained issues like late ballots and voting machines were part of the voting process.

"That is typical of what happens on Election Day," Ryan said. "It's a big process. There's 1,205 poll sites, there's over 68,000 pieces of individual equipment that need to be delivered, and sometimes there are hiccups here and there. Typically that's not a widespread problem."

"Everyone who is registered to vote, who shows up to vote, will be able to vote."