Know Your Rights: Homeless New Yorkers Can Vote!

Since 2012, the fourth Tuesday of September has been designated as National Voter Registration Day to help encourage Americans around the country to get out and register to vote in the annual November general elections. Here is some helpful information on how to make your voice heard in this year’s election:

Can I vote if I don’t have a permanent address?

YES! In 1984, Coalition for the Homeless filed the lawsuit Pitts v. Black, which guaranteed the right to vote for homeless New Yorkers living in shelter, on the street, or in welfare hotels.

How can I register to vote?

The deadline to register to vote in New York State in the 2018 general election is October 12, 2018. You can find out if you are already registered or register as a first-time voter by visiting the New York State Board of Elections website or NYC Votes.

What do I need when I go to vote?

Nothing. Arrive at your poll site between 6 am and 9 pm on November 6th. As long as you registered to vote before the October 12th deadline, you do not need to show identification in order to vote. You can vote in the district where you now live, even if you registered to vote or previously voted in a different neighborhood. For more information about your poll site, contact the New York City Board of Elections at 1-866-VOTE-NYC.

What should I do when I enter the poll site?

At the poll site, you will see tables and voting machines set up for your election district and others. At the table for your district, you will be asked to sign next to a facsimile of your signature on an alphabetized, computerized polling list. If your name does not appear on the roster, ask for an affidavit or paper ballot.

Can I vote if I have committed a felony or am currently on parole?

  • If you have committed a felony and have finished your sentence: Your rights have been reinstated and you are eligible to register and vote in this year’s election.
  • If you are currently on parole: You will regain your right to vote at the end of your parole period, and you may register and vote at that time.

What if I have trouble trying to vote?

If your name does not appear on the computerized polling list or you are told that you are not eligible to vote, ask for an affidavit or paper ballot. After Nov. 7th, the Board of Elections will check its records, and your vote will be counted if you are indeed eligible to vote. If not, you will receive a notice that you are not eligible, along with a registration application for future elections. You may also call one of the numbers listed below for assistance on the day of the election.

For more information or assistance, contact:

NYC Board of Elections: 1-866-VOTE-NYC (toll-free)

NYPIRG: 212-349-6460 x1166

Coalition for the Homeless: 212-776-2003