Take your pick! New Yorkers with more than one home have the right to choose either one of their addresses as the one they will vote from.
The courts have ruled that voters with two homes have the right to choose either one as their residence for voting purposes, as long as they have legitimate, significant and continuing attachments to the one they choose, and don’t vote elsewhere.
To vote in New York State, you must be a U.S. citizen, and you must have been a “resident” of New York State and of the county, city, or village you want to vote in for at least thirty days before that election is held. (You also must not be in jail or on parole for a felony.)
Q: I have a City apartment and a place in the country, too. I love my country home and would spend more time there if I could, but I certainly spend more time in the City than in the country. Can I still choose to vote in the country if I want to?
A: Yes. The relative amounts of time you spend in each place may be important in determining your legal residence for other purposes, but your residence for New York election law purposes is your choice to make. You can pick either one of your residences as your voting address, even if it’s not your “primary” residence. Of course, if you register and vote in one place, you can’t vote in the other.
Q: What if I’m a renter?
A: If renters couldn’t vote, the majority of voters in New York City would be disenfranchised! If you are renting your country home full-time and don’t plan to move away anytime soon, you should have the same voting rights as a homeowner in similar circumstances.
Q: What if I spend a lot of time at my parents’ or my in-law’s home in the country? Does that mean I have the right to vote there?
A: Situations like yours can go either way, depending on the particular facts.
Election officials are supposed to consider your expressed intent, conduct, and “all attendant surrounding circumstances.” If they decide you qualify as a voting resident and allow you to register, the statute says that their determination of your residence for voting purposes will be presumed correct.
The officials are supposed to consider where you own or rent real estate, your motor vehicle and other personal property registration, your residence for income tax purposes, and residence of your parents, spouse, and children, recognizing that a person can have different residences for different legal purposes. If there is a dispute among election officials as to whether you qualify as a resident, you as the voter will be given the benefit of the doubt. So if you really feel that a relative’s home is your home, too, we recommend talking it over candidly with your local election officials.
One thing NOT to do to try to claim some place that you don’t really call home as your Election Law residence, just so you can vote there. Using someone else’s address in bad faith to register and vote in a place where you don’t really live is against the law, so don’t do it.
Q: If I change my registration to the country, will I be able to vote absentee if I'm in the City on Election Day?
A: Yes, as long as you’re ordinarily away from your country home during the week for work, school, or family reasons, you're entitled to an absentee ballot. Other parts of this site have more about absentee voting, and how to receive an absentee ballot application form.
Q: How do I change my registration from the City to the country?
A: If you feel you meet the criteria, and would like to make the change, then click here.
Q: Will registering in the Country automatically cancel my New York City voter registration?
A: It should. If you’re re-registering within New York State, the City Board of Elections is supposed to be notified automatically, and they’re then supposed to notify you that you’re no longer registered to vote in the city.
Q: I know elections are important in the country, but what if I want to participate in City elections, too?
A: Some couples solve (or at least address) this problem by one registering and voting in each place. Others recognize that City elections are rarely close ones, and choose to vote where their votes are more important in deciding election outcomes.
Q: Can I vote in both the City and the country, as long as I avoid double voting in the Presidential, Gubernatorial, and Senate races? After all, those are the only ones that appear on both ballots, so in a sense I really wouldn’t be “double voting” at all.
A: Sorry, but the answer to that one is “no.” Even though you have legitimate political interests as a citizen and a taxpayer in both places and both sets of local elections, you can only register and vote in one place per election.
Q: Can I register and vote in the country in odd-numbered years, for the municipal elections, and switch back to the City in even-numbered years?
A: We don’t think that’s a game you should play. The law says you may choose one residence for voting purposes. You certainly have the right to change your mind from time to time about which of your residences you want to pick as your voting residence. But a systematic plan to switch your voting residence every year doesn't strike us as consistent with the spirit of the law.
Q: Do you have statutory and case citations for all this?
Q: What should I do if an election official won’t let me register to vote in the country, or refuses to issue me an absentee ballot?
The first thing to do is refer the official to this website, CountryVote.org, and particularly to our Sources & References section. If that does the trick, please let us know, since we’re always happy to learn that we’ve actually accomplished something, and certainly let us know if you come across an official who doesn’t seem to be playing by the rules.