New York Resources for Voters with Disabilities

What are my rights as a voter with a disability in New York?

In New York, you have the right to the following items as protected by federal law and election staff must be trained to understand these rights:

  • Accessible voter registration,
  • Accessible polling places,
  • Policies and procedures that do not discriminate against you based on your disability,
  • Accessible, available, and operational voting systems,
  • Your service animal to accompany you inside the polling place
  • The right to vote privately and independently or with assistance, if needed,
  • Assistance from a person of your choice, who can be a friend, family member, or poll worker (but not your boss, union agent, or a candidate unless this person is your family member),
  • Election Staff trained to understand the rights above.

According to the State of New York’s Voter Bill of Rights, New York voters also have the right to:

  • Vote on a system that will count your vote,
  • Vote privately and independently,
  • Register Permanently - once you register, you are eligible to vote at a polling place in your county or city as long as you maintain eligibility (see “Who can register to vote” below),
  • View a sample ballot before voting,
  • Vote by affidavit if your name does not appear in the poll ledger, the voter registration or enrollment list, or you do not provide a proper ID when required.

Additionally, Legislation (S.253A/A.1144A) allows ballots with stray marks to still be counted as valid.

Who can register to vote?

To register in New York, you must be

  • A citizen of the United States of America
  • At least 17 and will be turning 18 on or before Election Day 
  • A resident of the city or county for at least 30 days
  • If you are a student, unhoused, a survivor of intimate partner violence with related concerns, or living with a mental or physical impairment, you may still register and vote
  • Not currently incarcerated for a felony conviction. In New York, if you are on parole for a felony conviction you are still eligible to vote.

In New York, you may not register or vote if:

  • Have been declared mentally incompetent to vote by a judge, unless your right has been restored 
  • Are currently incarcerated for a felony conviction  
  • You claim the right to vote elsewhere
What are my rights when registering to vote?

Federal law requires assistance in registering to vote from offices that provide public assistance or state-funded programs serving people with disabilities. Responsibilities include:

  • Providing voter registration forms
  • Assisting voters in completing the forms
  • Transmitting completed forms to the appropriate election official
  • All aspects of voter registration must be accessible
What are the different ways to vote in New York?
  • In person on Election Day
  • Absentee without excuse
  • Early voting up to 9 days prior to Election Day
  • Provisional ballot
  • While abroad as a citizen or military
     
  • For individuals with print disabilities, one of three accessible machines are provided at the polls. These are:
    • ImageCast,
    • DS200, 
    • or AutoMARK
What are the ways to request an Absentee Ballot in New York?
How is the New York mail-in or absentee ballot process made accessible for voters with print disabilities?
  • You can indicate on your absentee ballot application that you are permanently disabled. You will then receive an absentee ballot for every subsequent election without filling out another application.
     
  • Voters with visual disabilities can request an accessible absentee ballot (also available in Spanish).
    • For questions about accessible absentee ballots, you can contact Jennifer Wilson in the Board of Elections Public Information Office at (518) 474-1953 or pio@elections.ny.gov.
What accommodations are available for voters with disabilities at polling locations in New York?

Federal law requires polling places to meet minimum compliance standards for individuals with special needs. 

If you are unable to stand in line, you can:

  • Request to be moved to the front of the line or refuse to be moved to the front of the line
  • Request that a chair be provided or refuse to accept a chair
  • Request to have your place in line held and notified when it is your turn
  • An accessible ballot marking device is available at all polling places. 
     
  • New York uses three types of accessible voting machines:
What are the rules of assistance for voters with disabilities in New York?
  • You may request assistance from two poll workers from different political parties or receive assistance from a person of your choice with the following exceptions: your employer, an agent of your employer, or an officer or agent of your union are not allowed to assist you.
  • You cannot be forced to accept assistance from a poll worker
  • If you receive assistance in the voting booth, your assistant will be required to sign an oath stating that they will not try to influence you.
  • You may designate a person to return your ballot to your local election official.
How can I prepare to use accessible voting equipment in New York prior to Election Day?

New York provides informational videos and transcripts for its accessible voting equipment. The three voting machines used are the ImageCast, DS200, and AutoMARK.

Who do I contact if I have problems when voting in New York?

If you have a problem while exercising your right to vote, you can:

  • File a complaint based on the Help America Vote Act. The form must be notarized and it must be submitted within 120 days of the incident,
  • Contact the Election Hotline at the NY Attorney General’s office by completing this complaint form
  • Contact the NY Board of Elections Vote Phone Bank at 1-866-868-3692,

You can also fill out a Violation of Civil Rights Complaint Form and submit it to the US Department of Justice by one of the following methods:

  • Online, through the form’s submission process - this is the fastest method.
     
  • By fax at (202) 616-9881. You MUST include “ATTN: Civil Rights and Civil Liberties Complaints" at the top of your fax submission for it to be processed correctly.
     
  • By mailing your form to: 
         U.S. Department of Justice
         Office of the Inspector General
         Investigations Division
         ATTN: Civil Rights & Civil Liberties Complaints
         950 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
         Washington, DC 20530

Contact the National Network of ADA Centers who can provide local contact information for other organizations you may wish to contact, including your Regional ADA Center or ADA Knowledge Translation Center, or Federal Agencies and Resources.