New York's state and county boards of elections have been inundated with complaints from confused voters this primary season. Election officials blame voter ignorance of New York's closed primary system, and the occasional clerical error, whereas many voters, particularly Bernie Sanders supporters, view registration irregularities as evidence of rampant skullduggery. In any event, New York's newly relevant primary is on Tuesday, April 19th (polls are open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m.), and heightened interest coupled with these registration problems could cause long lines and major confusion at the polls.

It's too late to get an absentee ballot, and it's down to the wire for fixing any registration issues. Still, it's a good idea to check your registration status, which you can do by searching your information here.

A few notes before we go on: March 25th was the deadline for new voters to register. If you've never voted before and didn't register before then, sorry, you can't vote in the primary.

Also, if you have been registered for a while but wanted to change parties this go-round, the deadline to do that was early last October. That may sound fucking crazy—okay, it is fucking crazy. But it's also the truth. See, New York is one of 11 states in the U.S. with a closed primary system, meaning Republicans can't vote in Democratic primaries and vice versa—and independents can't vote in anybody's primaries—and our party-change deadline is the earliest of anywhere, a provision meant to prevent last-minute sabotage by activists from outside a given party.

If you didn't miss the new-voter deadline or the party-change deadline and there is a problem with your listing, try calling your county Board of Elections, which you can find here. If there's still a problem with your registration on Primary Day, you have one of two options.

One is to try to get a court order stating you should be allowed to vote in a certain party's primary. As difficult as this sounds, the city Board of Elections actually stations judges at offices in each of the boroughs on Primary Day to do exactly this. For reasons unknown, this information doesn't appear on the board's website, but a spokeswoman provided a list of locations and hours judges will be at them, which goes as follows:

The Bronx

Bronx County Board of Elections
1780 Grand Concourse
7 a.m. to 9 p.m.


Kings County Board of Elections
345 Adams Street
Fourth Floor
7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Lower Manhattan

New York County Board of Elections
200 Varick Street
7 a.m. to 9 p.m.


State Office Building
163 West 125th Street
Eighth Floor
9 a.m. to 9 p.m.


Queens County Board of Elections
126-06 Queens Boulevard
7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Staten Island
Richmond County Board of Elections
1 Edgewater Plaza
6 a.m. to 9 p.m.

At most offices, two judges are covering the day, trading off in seven-hour shifts. In Harlem, though, Judge Tanya Kennedy is holding it down for a full 12 hours, and in Staten Island, three judges are there for a staggered four-hour, seven-hour, four-hour schedule. The Board of Elections didn't respond to a request for guidelines about appearing before these judges, but it's probably a safe bet to bring as much documentation of your registration history as possible, particularly that which is relevant to your issue.

If a judge thinks you should be allowed to vote, you should be given some paperwork to that effect, which you can then take to your poll site and show to the workers to get a ballot.

The other option, if you get to the polls and your name is not on the list of registered voters for the area, is to vote using a provisional ballot. To do this, you need to ask poll workers for a provisional or affidavit ballot. From there, you will fill out the ballot and explain your case in writing. The envelope with your provisional ballot is then supposed to be set aside and, as election commissioners tally the votes, they are supposed to also look at your ballot and consider whether you are indeed eligible to vote at the polling site that you did in the primary that you did, and if so, count your vote. If you are deemed not eligible, you are supposed to receive a mailed notice saying so, with a registration application attached to get you signed up for next time.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has set up a hotline for voters to report problems at the polls. The number is (800) 771-7755. New York's U.S. attorney's offices will also be taking complaints at (718) 254-6323 (for Brooklyn, Queens, Richmond, Nassau, and Suffolk counties) and (212) 637-0840 (for New York, Bronx, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, and Westchester counties). The FBI is also fielding reports of election law violations at (212) 384-1000.

Local United States Attorneys will also take complaints today: For Manhattan, Bronx, Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan and Westchester counties, call (212) 637-0840; for Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Nassau and Suffolk counties, call (718) 254-6323.

Got all that?

Oh, and to find out where the polling place is for your neighborhood, search your address here. And as always, if you're upset with the our state's electoral system operates, let your local legislators know.

Finally, you can take photographs of your ballot and inside the polling location.

N.B.: Last month we brought attention to postcards that the city Board of Elections had recently mailed to 60,000 newly registered voters, misleadingly stating that "the primary" is in September. The postcards were referring to the September 13th state and local primary, but made no mention of that detail, or of the upcoming presidential primary. At the time, board director Michael Ryan blamed voters for being confused by the cards, saying, "You can bother to educate yourself."

Since then, though, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has sent the board a letter demanding they fix the screw-up, and the New York Times reports that the board has sent followup notices to 43,000 Democrats and Republicans, correcting the error.

One other revelation sure to cause head-scratching ahead of Primary Day: since November, the number of registered Democrats in Brooklyn has dropped by 63,500, and no one seems able to explain why. WNYC reports that the decrease is the greatest of any county in New York, and that Kings County is only one of seven counties that have seen a decline in registered Democrats.