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   ERC: Genealogy and Family History: Records

   Voting Records


Brooklyn Borough Office


I requested this document in person when I visited the Brooklyn Board of Elections office in 2003. I paid my fee, which was three dollars at the time, hoping that this person would have registered to vote during this presidential year. I was hoping to find important genealogical clues that could further my research. They eventually mailed me the document shown above a number of weeks later.

The reason I requested this form was because I needed to know more about her. I knew that she was naturalized, but had no idea in what year this occurred. I also had no idea of the year in which she immigrated, nor through what port. I could not find her in the Ellis Island database.

First, I had to decide what year I wanted the BOE to look for. People registered to vote at least every four years, so I thought it wise to choose a year in which a President was elected, as I believe it is more likely that a person will register to vote during a presidential year. Also, I didn't want to ask for a year too soon and discover that she had not yet become a citizen and did not register to vote. I also believed that many who had intended to become U.S. citizens would have done so before or during World War II.

What information can one glean from such a document? Answer: A lot.

1. The E.D. (Election District) and A.D. (Assembly District) where the registrant lived at the time.
2. The year of the current voter registration
3. The registrant's serial number
4. The registrant's name
5. The registrant's current address (though erased by me, the address mentions the apartment number, and that she was a tenant in the apartment.) Note that obtaining a 1940 voter's registration form will give you their address at that time. This will aid you if you intend to look for the person or their family on the 1940 Federal Census once it become available in 2012.
6. The date of the current registration
7. The date of birth or age of the registrant (Here, I was also told that she was married.)
8. How many years the registrant lived in the state of New York (Here, one could surmise that the registrant first lived in New York in 1908, i.e. 1948-40. When I found out that she had immigrated in March 1907, her contact being a relative from Detroit, Michigan, I could surmise that she was met at the port of Baltimore by her contact and either went to Detroit with him, where she stayed for less than a year before moving to New York City, or she met him in Baltimore and went directly to somewhere in New York State. All these suppositions assume that the information supplied on the form is accurate.)
9. How many years the registrant lived in New York City. Here, there is a four-year differential between the time she lived in New York State and New York City (includes Brooklyn.) She first lived in New York City since 1912, i.e. 1948-36 (she married in January 1914).
10. How long the registrant lived in the Election District. Here, it is thirty-one years. Knowing that this registrant first lived in Manhattan, married, had her first child there, then moved to Brooklyn, I was able to surmise that she lived in Manhattan with her husband and child until 1917, when they moved to Brooklyn.
11. The birth country of the registrant
12. The date the registrant was naturalized
13. The court in which the registrant was naturalized (the document above tells me that it was the Eastern District of the city of New York, which is Brooklyn--the Southern District is Manhattan.)
14. Was there a previous registration? If so, what year? What was their address at the time of their previous registration?
15. Business connections (Here, it is listed that she was a housewife.)


***Updated information on requesting Brooklyn Board of Elections voter registration forms, as of Jan 2007:

You can now request voter registration records. The information below pertains only to the Brooklyn Board of Elections. Here are the important points of information:

1. These records are not microfilmed and will not be from what I understand. In theory they can go back as far as the 1900 voter registration records, but the ledger sheets are very brittle, so anything before the 1940s is iffy, though you shouldn't be discouraged from requesting them. You can request records through 1956.
2. You must send three dollars per request to the address below. Whether or not they find the record for the name, year and address you requested, the charge is three dollars per search. Make out the check to the "Board of Elections."

3. Submit by letter for each search the name of the person you are inquiring about, the address and the year you are interested in. Include the check with your request. Remember that not everybody registered to vote (or voted when registered.) I personally would chose a presidential year, as a person generally would be more likely to have voted during a presidential year.

4. Brooklyn is having a special election this year on February 20th, 2007, so the response time before then will be slower than usual. You can still submit your request now but you will get the material you requested with greater speed after the elections. If you send you request in now, and if they have time before the election, they will look into it for you. Otherwise, the turnaround time is about a week or so.
5. The procedure is thus: The woman in the Board of Elections office in Brooklyn will look up the name, etc. you requested. If she finds it, she will call the storage facility where the small ledgers are being stored, The storage facility will ship the ledger to the woman and she will make whatever copies need to be made. She will then either mail the requested papers to you or will notify you that the search was unsuccessful. Again, it costs you three dollars per search even if they can't find what you are looking for.
6. I think that covers it. Don't remember too that they request a self-addressed, stamped envelope that they will use to send you what they've found.

7. Keep the request letter simple, e.g. "Enclosed is a check for x dollars. I am requesting a voter registration form for such and such a person for the year 19xx. The address of this person at that time was xxx in Brooklyn."

8. Now the address:

Board of Elections Search Department
345 Adams St., 4th Floor
Brooklyn, New York 11201
attention: Nydia Ruiz





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