Answers to Some Frequently Asked Questions
1. "WHO CAN VOTE?"
You must be a registered voter in order to vote in the general or primary elections. To register, you must be a United States citizen, be 18 years old by the date of the election you want to vote, live at your present address for at least 30 days before an election, not be in jail or on parole for a felony conviction, and not claim the right to vote elsewhere.
2. "WHERE CAN I GET A MAIL-IN VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATION?"
By calling the BOE at 349-8350 and ask to have a postage-paid application sent to you. You may also pick one up at your local post office, library or motor vehicle office. If you would like to download a voter registration form, click here.
3. "CAN I REGISTER IN PERSON?"
Yes. Many public agencies are now providing voter registration forms and assistance. You can also register at Board of Elections office at 185 East Seneca St., Oswego Monday to Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
4. "DO I HAVE TO REGISTER EVERY YEAR?"
No. Once you register, you are permanently registered. Name, address or party enrollment changes can be made by submitting a new registration application.
5. "HOW WILL I KNOW WHERE TO VOTE?"
You should receive a postcard from the Board of Elections some time in August, telling you where to vote. Watch for it! It will also indicate your election district number which you need to know on election day. Or, you can call us and we will tell you your appropriate polling place.
6. "HOW DO CANDIDATES GET ON THE BALLOT?"
In New York State, most candidates get on the ballot by filing a petition containing a specified number of signatures. The required amount varies, depending on the office sought and whether the candidate is seeking a party nomination or a spot on the ballot as an independent.
7. "WHO CAN SIGN A PETITION?"
Only enrolled party members may sign petitions for candidates who seek their party's nomination. Party members may sign for only one candidate for a specific elected office. Signing two or more petitions for the same elected office invalidates the signatures. However, any registered voter living within the appropriate district may sign a petition for a candidate seeking to run as an independent in the general election, as long as s/he has not already signed on behalf of another candidate.
8. "SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT SIGNING A PETITION?"
Whether or not you sign a petition is a personal choice.
Some people refuse to sign petitions. However, the reluctance to sign petitions makes it difficult for potential candidates without strong political party backing to get the requisite number of signatures and run for elected office. Signing a petition is an important way to participate in the electoral process.
Some people sign candidates' petitions on a first-come-first-served basis, without regard for the candidates' political beleifs. This practice can result in you signing a petition for a candidate who doesn't share your political philosophies, and who may have goals in government you oppose.
The best way to participate in the petition process is to become familiar with the candidates before signing. If a candidate, or his/her supporter, whom you are not familiar with approaches you for your signature, you may ask some questions about the candidate's beliefs and goals. Then you will be able to make an informed decision whether or not to sign the candidate's petition.
Signing a petition does not obligate you to vote for the candidate in the primary or General Election.
9. "WHAT IS A PRIMARY ELECTION?"
A primary is an election that may take place within each of New York State's official political parties. It precedes the general election and provides enrolled political party members the opportunity to nominate their party's candidates for elected office as well as to elect various party officials. However, if there is no contest, there is no primary.
10. "WHY SHOULD I ENROLL IN A POLITICAL PARTY?"
Enrolled party members who help nominate candidates by signing petitions and voting in the primary have greater political clout than non-enrolled voters who can vote only in the general election.
Moreover, you are not obligated to vote for your party's candidate in the general election. In November, you may vote for any candidate from any party.
11. " HOW DO I ENROLL IN A POLITICAL PARTY?"
You voluntarily enroll in any party by indicating your preference on the voter registration form either at the same time that you register to vote or by re-registering.
12. " WHAT HAPPENS IF I CAN'T VOTE ON ELECTION DAY?"
If you will be out of town on election day or are physically unable to go to the polls, you can vote by absentee ballot.
13. "HOW CAN I GET AN ABSENTEE BALLOT?"
Absentee ballot applications can be obtained by writing the Board of Elections, or by calling 315-349-8350.
14. " WHAT DO I NEED WHEN I GO TO VOTE?"
Nothing. Just appear at the polling place indicated on the card you get from the Board of Elections between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m. on election day. You need not show any identification or your card from the Board of Elections in order to vote.
15. "WHAT DO I DO WHEN I GET TO THE POLLING PLACE?"
When you enter the polling place, you'll see tables and voting machines for one or more election districts (E.D.). At the table for your E.D. you will be asked to sign next to a facsimile of your original signature on an alphabetical computerized poll-list.
16. "WHAT IF I'M NOT PERMITTED TO VOTE?"
If you are not on the poll-list, it may be because your registration form was not received or, for a primary, because you aren't enrolled in a party. If you believe that you are eligible, you can still vote. Ask for an affidavit ballot, which is basically a paper ballot. After the election, 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.
18. "CAN SOMEONE HELP ME TO VOTE?"
If you need some help because you are disabled or cannot read the ballot, federal law allows you to have a friend or relative assist you in the voting booth. Election employees at the polling place are also ready to help you.
19. "IF I REGISTER TO VOTE, WILL I BE CALLED FOR JURY DUTY?"
Jurors are drawn from lists of state taxpayers and licensed drivers as well as from voter registration rolls. Do not give up your right to vote in the hope that you will avoid jury duty. Chances are, if you pay taxes or drive a car, you will still be called. Besides, serving on a jury is a privilege, one that permits you to personally stand up for all Americans' right to a trial by a jury of their peers.
Questions about the Oswego County Board of Elections?