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 and live at your present address for at least 30 days before the election.
Am I registered to vote?
If you are unsure of whether or not you are registered to vote, you can check your status HERE.
Where can I get a voter registration application?
Pick one up at the Putnam County Board of Elections, 25 Old Route 6, Carmel, NY 10512 or call (845) 808-1300 and ask to have an application sent to you. You may also find registration applications at your Town Hall, local post office, library or motor vehicle office. The application may be downloaded HERE as well.
Can I register in person?
Yes, you may register at the Putnam County Board of Elections, Monday through Thursday from 8:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. and Fridays from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. If you do not receive your voter acknowledgment card within 2 to 3 weeks of completing your application, we suggest you contact the Board of Elections at (845) 808-1300.
Do I have to register every year?
No. Once you register you are permanently registered in that county unless you move. Name, address or party enrollment changes may be made by submitting a new registration application.
If I moved within Putnam County, do I need to re-register with the Board of Elections?
If you move you should notify the Board of Elections in writing by completing a Voter Registration Form with your new address.
I just moved to Putnam from another county. Is my previous registration still valid?
Registrations do not “roll-over” from county to county; if you have just moved to Putnam, you must register with the Putnam County Board of Elections.
Can a felony conviction affect my right to vote?
You cannot register for or vote in an election if:
- You have been convicted of a felony in New York State and are currently incarcerated serving your sentence.
- You have been convicted of a felony in New York State and are currently on parole.
- You have been convicted in a Federal Court or in another state of a crime or offense which would constitute a felony under the laws of New York State, unless you meet any one of the five conditions below:
- You have been convicted of a felony but have been pardoned.
- Your maximum sentence of imprisonment has expired.
- You have been discharged from parole.
- You have been convicted but have not been sentenced to imprisonment or the sentence of imprisonment has been suspended.
- You finished your maximum sentence and are currently serving probation.
If I register to vote, will I be called for jury duty?
Although jurors are drawn from voter registration polls, they are also selected from lists of state taxpayers and drivers license records. This being the case, if you pay taxes or drive a car you will probably be called for jury duty regardless of your voter registration status.
Can the Board of Elections give out my voter registration information?
Yes, as long as a FOIL (Freedom of Information) form is completed, the Board of Elections is authorized to give out your voter information. However, as per New York State Election Law Sec 3-103(5), information derived from voter registration records may not be used for non-election purposes under penalty of law. The Board of Elections will never give out your social security number or signature.
Is the Board of Elections responsible for conducting school elections?
The BOE is not involved with the running of any school elections, each of which is administered by the individual school districts. The involvement of the BOE is limited to the supplying of voting machines, lists of voters registered in the school districts and lists of permanently disabled voters who may be given absentee ballots for use in a school election. Questions regarding school elections should be directed to your school district clerk.
DETERMINING THE CANDIDATES
What is a Primary Election?
A “Primary Election” is one in which only enrolled members of a particular political party may vote for the purpose of nominating party candidates as well as elect various party officials. In any election district, if a race is uncontested, no primary is held. The candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be the nominee of his or her party in the General Election for such office.
What is a General Election?
A “General Election” is an election that is being held throughout the state or country on the same day. Any person registered to vote (in any political party) in Putnam County is eligible to vote in a General Election. The most prominent example is the Presidential election held every four years. Examples of statewide general elections include the races for the New York State Governor and New York Senators.
How can I run for office?
We encourage all those concerned with the well-being of Putnam to become involved in the political process. If you are interested in becoming a candidate, check out our “Running For Office” page.
Who can sign a petition?
Enrolled party members may only sign petitions for candidates who seek their party’s nomination. 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 provided they have not already signed on behalf of another candidate in that race.
Should I be concerned about signing a petition?
Absolutely not! Signing a petition is an important way to participate in the electoral process and in no way compels you to vote for that candidate. The reluctance of some to sign petitions makes it difficult for those without strong political party backing to get the requisite number of signatures and run for elected office. This hesitancy can limit the field of candidates and potentially lower the quality of candidates available.
Why should I enroll in a political party?
Parties play an essential role in maintaining expediency in our political system. Enrolled party members can help nominate candidates by signing petitions and voting in the Primary Election, giving them more political influence than an independent voter who can vote only in the general election. Moreover, you are not obligated to vote for your party’s candidate in the November General Election.
How do I enroll in a political party?
You voluntarily enroll in any party by indicating your preference on the voter registration form either when you first register to vote in Putnam County.
How do I change my party enrollment?
Party changes may be made by submitting a new voter registration application. Changes must be received twenty-five days before the year’s general election and will take effect seven days after the General Election. This means that a voter who submits an application for a party change in January will not become a member of that party until seven days after the November General Election, leaving them ineligible to vote in their new party’s June Primary Election.
VOTING AT THE POLLS
How will I know where and when to vote?
When you first register to vote, you will receive a voter acknowledgment card indicating the address of your Polling Place, and the dates of the elections for which you are eligible to vote. In addition, you will receive an annual reminder postcard from the Board of Elections prior to election season. You may also use our Polling Place Locator to find this information.
When are the polls open?
Polling places are open on Election Day from 6 A.M. to 9 P.M.
What do I need to bring when I go to vote?
We recommend that you bring your driver’s license to the polling place. Election workers may need to verify identification if a voter’s signature is not on file, if there has been a change of name, or if you are a first time voter who registered by mail.
What do I do when I get to the polling place?
When you enter the polling place, a Polling Place Coordinator will be available to answer any questions you may have, and will direct you to your election district. At the table for your election district, you must provide your name and address to the Election Inspector, who will then have you sign the pollbook. The Election Inspector will then hand you your ballot.
What are my rights as a voter?
You can find a list of your voter rights HERE.
What if I am not permitted to vote?
If your name is not in the pollbook, ask the Inspector to verify that you are at the proper table and at the correct election district. There are several reasons why your name may not be in the pollbook. For example, you may not be registered with the party that is having a primary election, or you may be deemed ineligible because your registration form was not received by the deadline.
If you believe that you are eligible, speak to the Inspector about voting by an Affidavit Ballot or obtaining a Court Order.
What voting machines does Putnam County use?
Putnam County uses the ImageCast Optical Scan Voting Machine.
How do I mark a paper ballot?
Be sure to follow the directions located on the bottom of the ballot. Completely fill in the oval next to your choice with the marker provided. Do not use any other mark such as an “X” or a “ √ ”. Do not write anywhere else on the ballot. Propositions (if any) are located on the back of the ballot. Mark your vote by filling in the oval next to either “yes” or “no”. If not marked correctly, your ballot may not be accurately read by the voting machine.
How do I cast a write-in ballot?
If you wish to vote for someone whose name does not appear on the ballot, you have the option of writing in the candidate of your choice. To cast a write-in vote using an optical scan voting machine, you write or stamp his or her name in the write-in box at the bottom of the column for that office. Write-in votes for someone whose name is already on the ballot will not be counted.
Can someone help me vote?
If you need help voting, federal law allows you to have a friend or relative assist you. Your employer or union representative is not permitted to assist you. Election Inspectors at your polling place may also provide assistance.
Who conducts the elections?
Election Inspectors are responsible for the electoral process at each polling place. Election Inspectors are paid positions for voters who are appointed by the Board of Elections. Inspectors are trained and tested each year by county employees in order to ensure competence.
What does an Election Inspector do?
Election Inspectors perform a variety of tasks to ensure the smooth running of the polls on Election Day. Some of their responsibilities include setting up the polling place, checking that voters are in their proper election districts, and making sure the ballots have not been tampered with.
When do Election Inspectors work?
Election Inspectors are required to be at the polling place from 5:00 A.M. until the Chair Election Inspector has fulfilled all the responsibilities in regards to closing the polls, which includes signing off on all forms, sealing the ballot bags and replacing supplies in the Inspector Suitcase, typically between 9:30 and 10:00 P.M.
Can I become an Election Inspector?
The Board of Elections is always looking for Inspectors to work in upcoming elections. If you are interested in becoming an Inspector, visit our Election Inspector page for more information.
What happens if I cannot be at my polling place on Election Day?
If you will be out of town on Election Day, or are physically unable to go to the polls, you may vote by absentee ballot.
How can I get an absentee ballot?
You must fill out an absentee ballot application before receiving an absentee ballot. Absentee ballot applications may also be obtained by writing the Board of Elections or by calling us at (845) 808-1300. Applications may also be downloaded HERE. Applications must be mailed no later than the seventh day before the election or delivered by hand no later than the day before the election.
What is the deadline for submitting an absentee ballot?
Absentee ballots must be postmarked by the day before Election Day or hand-delivered to the Board of Elections on Election Day.
I’m disabled. Where can I vote?
All polling places are now accessible to the handicapped. Disabled voters are also eligible to vote by absentee ballot. If you have a long-term or permanent illness or disability, you may apply for a permanent absentee ballot. Permanent absentees automatically receive ballots before each primary and general election.
Are military personnel eligible to vote absentee?
Military personnel are entitled to absentee ballots. They can be obtained by completing the Federal Post Card Application. Further information can be acquired from the Department of Defense’s Federal Voter Assistance Program.
I used to live in Putnam but now I live abroad. Can I vote absentee?
Provided that your address prior to leaving the U.S. was in New York, you are eligible to vote absentee in select elections. More info is available on our Absentee Voting page under “Special Federal”.