Voter FAQ

Election Guide

Why are there so many political parties?

To qualify as a party in New York, an organization must have had a candidate for governor who received at least 50,000 votes in the preceding election. After the 2018 election, eight parties were recognized: Conservative, Democratic, Green, Independence, Libertarian, Republican, Serve America Movement (SAM) and Working Families.

Beginning with the 2020 presidential election, the rules will change and the number of parties will shrink. In order to qualify, a political organization will need to have had a candidate who received at least 130,000 votes or 2 percent of the total (whichever is greater) in the last gubernatorial election as well as the last presidential election. Using that criteria, the only parties that qualified in the 2018 gubernatorial election were the Republican, Democratic and Conservative; they will also need to achieve the same minimums in the 2020 election.

I received a call from a candidate saying she knew I had received my absentee ballot. How did she know?

Anyone can apply, using the Freedom of Information Law, for voter registration information, including who applied for an absentee ballot, when the person applied and the address where the ballot was sent.

Can I post a ballot selfie?

To prevent vote-buying and coercion, New York law has since 1890 prohibited showing a marked ballot to another person, and in 2017 a federal court upheld the state’s interpretation that the restriction includes posting a photo online. A bill introduced in the state Legislature this year to legalize ballot selfies died in committee.

Do the same people run in every election?

It can seem that way. According to Ballotpedia, there are 339 state legislative races nationwide between the same two candidates who faced each other in the previous race. In New York, there are a dozen such races, including two in the Highlands, for the 41st Senate district (Sue Serino and Karen Smythe) and the 95th Assembly district (Sandy Galef and Lawrence Chiulli).

Why does Putnam have only one early-voting site?

Under state law, counties must have one polling site for every full increment of 50,000 registered voters, although they can choose to have more. Putnam has 69,409 registered voters so is only required to have one site, which it located at the Board of Elections at 25 Old Route 6 in Carmel. Dutchess has 194,810 registered voters so it must have at least three. It created five, including one at Fishkill Town Hall, 807 Route 52. The hours for each are below.

Putnam County
SAT 24: 9a – 2p
SUN 25: 9a – 2p
MON 26: 9a – 5p
TUES 27: 9a – 8p
WED 28: 9a – 5p
THURS 29: 9a – 8p
FRI 30: 9a – 5p
SAT 31: 9a – 2p
SUN 1: 9a – 2p

Dutchess County
SAT 24: 12 – 5p
SUN 25: 12 – 5p
MON 26: 9a – 5p
TUES 27: 12 – 8p
WED 28: 9a – 5p
THURS 29: 12 – 8p
FRI 30: 9a – 5p
SAT 31: 9a – 4p
SUN 1: 12 – 5p

Can I still vote in person if I submit an absentee ballot?

Yes. Absentee ballots aren’t counted until after Election Day, so if you vote in person, election officials in New York state will void your mail vote. During the June 23 primary election, 22 voters in Putnam and 90 in Dutchess did that. However, it’s still a crime to intentionally vote twice. According to a database compiled by the Heritage Foundation, there have been two convictions in the state since 1983 for doing that and three for forging absentee ballots.

Can I still vote by mail?

Yes, but the window is closing. You must be registered to vote (the deadline has passed for the Nov. 3 election) and download an application at elections.dutchessny.gov or putnamboe.com. Select one of six reasons for your request, such as that you will not be in the county on Election Day or that you have a “temporary illness.” The definition of the latter now includes “being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like COVID-19.”

Submit the signed form to the Board of Elections. In Dutchess, it can be faxed to 845-486-2483 or emailed to dutchesselections@dutchessny.gov. In Putnam, it must be mailed to the BOE at 25 Old Route 6, Carmel, NY 10512. The deadline is Tuesday (Oct. 27), although the U.S. Postal Service has said it cannot guarantee delivery of absentee ballots for applications received within 15 days of the election. However, you can apply for and receive an absentee ballot at the Board of Elections up to the day before the election (Nov. 2).

When you receive your absentee ballot, fill it out and slide it into the envelope provided. Unless you sign and date the oath and the inner envelope (containing the ballot) is sealed inside the outer envelope, it will not be counted. If mailed, the ballot must be postmarked by Nov. 3. But it also can be dropped off at the Board of Elections, at any early voting site or at the polls on Election Day. To check the status of your submitted ballot, visit putnamboe.com/absentee-voting or bit.ly/dutchess-status.


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One thought on “Voter FAQ

  1. Thank you for your Election Guide. Unfortunately, I think the first question in the “Voter FAQ” should have been, “Why don’t I have viable alternative choices to vote for?”

    The honest answer is the Democrat/Republican duopoly controls the rulemaking that governs our elections. That’s why they implemented higher-vote thresholds that only affect the ability of the third-, fourth- and fifth-party candidates to get on the ballot.

    This is just one example of how big-money interests and entrenched power are undermining our democracy. Give smaller parties a chance: Vote for your candidate(s) on the alternative party line, e.g., Biden-Harris on the Working Families line. This will give alternative parties the votes they need to reach the threshold to continue to appear on the ballot, and the opportunity to truly represent the people.

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