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The New York State Board of Elections Division of Election Law Enforcement (DELE) receives many different kinds of complaints about alleged election law violations. However, some complaints do not involve actual violations of NYS Election Law, and some do not fall within the purview of the DELE. The DELE has compiled some of its most frequently received complaint topics that fall into these categories.

Voter Intimidation

All complaints relating to voter intimidation should be immediately directed to the New York State Attorney General (NYSAG)’s Election Protection Hotline at (866) 390-2992, or submitted online using the NYSAG’s online Election Complaint Form.  

Threats against Poll Worker(s) or Elections Employee/Volunteer(s)

All election workers and volunteers should be permitted to perform their jobs free from threats and intimidation. The New York State Board of Elections Division of Election Law Enforcement (DELE) urges complaints regarding threats to election workers and/or volunteers to be reported directly to the FBI Election Crimes Coordinator at your local FBI office, online at, or via phone at 1-800-CALL-FBI (225-5324), Prompt 1, then Prompt 3. Contacting the Election Crimes Coordinator at your local FBI office is the best way to report election threats.  However, if there is imminent danger or risk of harm, call 911.

Help America Vote (HAVA) Complaints

The United States Congress passed the Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA) to make sweeping reforms to the nation's voting process.  HAVA addresses improvements to voting systems and voter access.  A complaint can be filed if an individual believes a violation has occurred, is occurring, or is about to occur.  HAVA complaints include problems with voting equipment, accessibility, alternative language, provisional voting, central voter registration, posting of election information at polling locations, and identification of voters. Initially, complaints may be made in writing, orally, or in person to the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) or any local board of elections.  However, formal complaints must be made to NYSBOE using the fillable HAVA complaint form on the NYSBOE website. After receiving the written complaint, a hearing will be held.  In these matters, the evidentiary burden of proof is the preponderance of the evidence.

The New York State Board of Elections Division of Election Law Enforcement (DELE) is not tasked with investigating HAVA complaints. If a complaint is submitted to the DELE using the HAVA Complaint Form, DELE is required to send it to NYSBOE.

Fair Campaign Code Violations

NYS Election Law dictates that one of the duties of the New York State Board of Elections (NYSBOE) is to adopt a “Fair Campaign Code.”  This code sets forth ethical standards of conduct for persons, candidates, and political parties.  These ethical standards of conduct state that during any campaign for nomination or election to public office or party position, no person, political party, or committee, shall, directly or indirectly, engage in or commit any of several actions.  Examples of Fair Campaign Code Violations include practices of political espionage, political practices involving subversion or undermining of political parties or the electoral process, deliberate misrepresentation of the contents or results of a poll relating to any candidate's election, or any acts intended to hinder or prevent any eligible person from registering to vote, enrolling to vote, or voting.  If you have a complaint involving a possible Fair Campaign Code Violation, contact the NYSBOE Office of Counsel at (518) 474-6367.

Candidate Residency Requirements

NYS Election Law § 6-122 addresses the residency requirements for political candidates in that it prohibits a person from being designated or nominated for public office who cannot meet the statutory or constitutional qualifications at the "commencement of the term of such office." The NYS Constitution sets State Office candidate residency requirements. Local Office candidate residency is determined by the laws, codes, and regulations of the municipality in which that office is located.

State Office Candidates

Candidates for Governor or Lieutenant Governor must be a resident of the state for the “five years next preceding the election.” See NYS Constitution, Article IV § 2. Similarly, candidates for the office of Member of the New York State Senate or Assembly must meet two constitutional residency requirements: Five years of residency in the state and residency in the district for “twelve months immediately preceding his or her election.” The residency period must be continuous, not intermittent (Bourges v LeBlanc, 98 NY2d 418 [2002]). For the election immediately following redistricting, a candidate for state legislature is not required to have lived in the district but must have resided within the county in which the district is contained for twelve months immediately before the election. See NYS Constitution, Article III § 7.

Local Office Candidates

There is no NYS Election Law requirement that a candidate for a local office reside in the district in which the election is sought at the time the petition is filed. Local Office candidate residency is determined by the laws, codes, and regulations of the municipality where the office is located.  The New York State Board of Elections Division of Election Law Enforcement (DELE) does not have jurisdiction over the residency requirements for local offices. Residency complaints regarding local candidates should be brought to the attention of the applicable County Board of Elections and/or the jurisdiction's ethics commission.


Decisions about the validity of petitions are made by the Board of Elections to which the petitions were submitted. If you wish to challenge a petition decision, contact the applicable Board of Elections and request the procedural timeline that they have determined. The remedy for petition challenges lies with the NYS Courts, and it would be recommended that you contact an Election Law attorney.

Campaign Signs

Political signs are protected under the free speech provisions of the United States and New York State Constitutions. However, local governments may adopt regulations applicable to all signage in their municipalities. Therefore, posting any signs on public property falls under the jurisdiction of municipalities, counties, and other local governments, not the NYS Election Law. Private property owners have more latitude when placing signs on their property. Inquiries or complaints regarding political signs should be made to the municipality where the sign is located.

Social Media Censoring

More and more political committees are using social media accounts in their campaigns. While private individuals and the social media platform itself can censor you, government actors, including politicians, cannot generally censor you based on the content of your communication or personal feelings. Just because a social media account belongs to an individual who happens to be a politician, it is not a de facto official page. A recent US Court of Appeals Eighth Circuit decision, Campbell v. Reisch 986 F.3d 822 (8th Cir. 2021), held that a social media account needs to be "official" and/or operated under the "color of law." If a social media account page is determined to be an official account for a politician or political committee, the account holder should not exclude differing viewpoints. No one on social media should tolerate abusive, inappropriate, or threatening content.

Volunteers Registering Ineligible People to Vote

During initiatives to get people registered to vote, the New York State Board of Elections Division of Election Law Enforcement (DELE) receives complaints from individuals who are concerned that volunteers may be registering ineligible people to vote. It should be noted that volunteers are not registering people to vote; they are simply helping individuals apply to register to vote. Only local Boards of Elections can approve applications and register a voter. These applications are subject to a review process that includes determining whether the applicant is eligible to be registered to vote.