The New Way to Vote: Instructions for New Yorkers


After decades of pulling levers to vote, New Yorkers have a new ballot system to contend with this year, and it’s very different. So, in the interests of civic engagement, our Senior Planet Video of the Week is the New York Board of Elections’ pretty awful looking (and sounding)—but still serviceable— “Vote the New Way New York Instructional Video.” Turn down your volume a notch and watch; then check the Q&As below. The video is available in several languages on the BOE website.

Even after watching the video, we had some questions about the new system. The answers weren’t hard to find:

What are the main things we should know about filling in the ballot sheet so our votes will be counted?

  • Do fill in the ovals below the names of the candidates/proposals of your choice with the pen provided.
  • Do not use an “X” or a “√” – just fill in the oval.
  • Do not circle the oval or make stray marks on the ballot.
  • Do not fold your ballot before inserting it into the scanner.

What if we make a mistake marking our ballot?

If you make a mistake while marking your ballot, you can return your ballot to the Inspector, who’ll give you a new one to mark. You can mark up to three ballots if you keep making mistakes. Spoiled ballots are marked “VOID” by the Inspector and are placed in a special envelope with all other void ballots. Votes on void ballots are not counted.

What if we have trouble reading the ballot sheet?

When you’re in the privacy booth, you’ll find a magnifying sheet for your use. Hold the sheet over the ballot to read, just as you would a magnifying glass. Ballot marking devices (BMDs) are available to assist any voter in marking the ballot by using an adjustable touch screen, audio headphones, Braille keypad, rocker paddle or sip and puff device.

What if we don’t know the right way to insert the ballot in the scanner?

The scanner accepts ballots in any direction and reads both sides of the ballot. The scanner will notify you that your vote has been cast successfully. Your vote, along with all other votes on the scanner, will be tallied at the poll site on election night

What if we still have trouble figuring out how to cast our vote?

Find one of the trained poll workers who are there to help you. You can ask a poll worker for assistance at any time while you are at the poll site, even if you’ve already been inside a voting booth.

Now share this on Facebook and go vote! 


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