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Show ID to buy whipped cream, but not to vote? In New York, that’s misleading
If Your Time is short
Some stores misinterpreted a new New York state law and restricted sales of cans of whipped cream to shoppers who are at least 21 years old. The law restricts the sale of whipped cream chargers, or whippets, which contain nitrous oxide, not cans of whipped cream.
Identification is required in New York to register to vote, but is not required when voters arrive at a polling place.
Ice cream? Check. Hot fudge? Check. Whipped cream … wait, people need IDs for that in New York state? Well, no. And New York state voters mostly won’t need IDs at the polls, either, but they will need them to register to vote.
An inaccurate claim that a new law in New York requires shoppers to show identification to purchase whipped cream has spread on social media. Some posters have paired that with a different misleading claim, that identification isn’t necessary to vote in the Empire State.
First, the whipped cream. News surfaced recently that some Empire State stores, such as a Stewart’s Shop in Albany County, began requiring identification for people younger than 21 to buy cans of whipped cream because of a new law meant to curb youth abuse of the nitrous oxide contained in "whippets" or "whip-its."
Although the sale of nitrous oxide chargers, left, is illegal to people younger than 21 in New York state, the sale of whipped cream cans, which include nitrous oxide as a whipping agent, is legal to people of any age. (Shutterstock)
Nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, can be inhaled to create a quick high, but is dangerous and addictive. The Alcohol and Drug Foundation said nitrous oxide, often used as a medical sedative, can cause fainting, heart attack, blood pressure loss and death; prolonged use can cause depression and psychosis.
The law took effect Nov. 25, and carries a fine for retailers of $250 for an initial offense, then $500 for subsequent offenses. The law states its aim is preventing the sale of whipped cream chargers — nitrous oxide-filled steel cylinders or cartridges used as whipping agents in whipped cream dispensers — to anyone under 21.
"This law will help to protect our youth from the dangers of this lethal chemical, while helping to clean up our neighborhoods," state Sen. Joe Addabbo Jr., D-Queens, who sponsored the bill that became law, said in October.
Confusion about the law spread. News outlets reported that the sale of canned whipped cream was banned in New York to people younger than 21 because of the law. A reporter with the Albany Times-Union tried to buy whipped cream in a Hannaford supermarket and found that ID was required at a self-checkout, although no ID was required at the self-checkout at a Price Chopper supermarket.
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
But Addabbo said this week the measure is meant to restrict chargers, which are smaller containers of nitrous oxide that are sold in bulk, sometimes 24 chargers or more to a box, not whipped cream canisters.
"Anyone can buy as many Reddi-wip cans as they want," Addabbo said Aug. 30.
Kent Sopris, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, a nonprofit trade group, said Aug. 31 that he would instruct his members not to require identification for whipped cream sales after Addabbo issued an emailed statement clarifying the law’s intent.
Now, for elections. In most instances, New York state voters are not asked for identification when they arrive at a polling place, but context is needed.
To register to vote in New York, prospective voters must present some form of identification. If their identity cannot be verified by the Board of Elections in time for Election Day, voters will be asked to provide identification at the polls. The state accepts a driver’s license or a nondriver’s government-issued identification card, or the last four digits of the voter’s Social Security number. The board also accepts a valid photo ID, utility bills, paychecks, bank statements or a government check or government mail with the voter’s name and address.
But voters whose identity could not be verified before an election aren’t turned away if they lack ID at the polling place. These voters are asked to fill out an affidavit ballot, sometimes called a provisional ballot. This Board of Elections or a judge can decide not to count the ballots if the person who filled it out is later deemed ineligible to vote.
Social media posts claim that you need an ID to purchase whipped cream in New York, but you don’t need an ID to vote there.
Identification is not necessary to purchase cans of whipped cream. Some stores misinterpreted a new law meant to curb young adults’ abuse of nitrous oxide via whipped cream chargers — not whipped cream cans — and required an ID. Further communication from the bill’s sponsor has cleared the confusion.
New York requires identification when people register to vote, but not when they cast their ballots. If the Board of Elections cannot verify voters’ identities before Election Day, those voters must present identification when they vote. Voters who do not have identification won’t be turned away but will be asked to cast affidavit, or provisional ballots.
We rate this claim Mostly False.
Twitter post, @RyanAFournier, Aug. 30, 2022.
Facebook post, user James Spero, Aug. 30, 2022.
Phone interview, New York state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., Aug. 30, 2022.
New York State Senate Bill S2819A, became law Oct. 29, 2021, accessed Aug. 30, 2022.
New York state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. news release, "Addabbo Bill Prohibiting the Sale of Whipped Cream Chargers to Persons Under the Age of 21 Becomes Law," Oct. 29, 2021, accessed Aug. 30, 2022.
New York state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., statement on whipped cream charger law, Aug. 29, 2022.
New York state Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr., news release, "Addabbo hopes confusion over new law will shine light on the important issue of the dangers of inhaling nitrous oxide," Aug. 30, 2022.
Gothamist, "Election Officials Tossed 90,000 Affidavit Ballots From Last Month's Primary," May 10, 2016, accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
Consolidated Laws of New York, Chapter 17, Article 8, Title 3, Section 8-302, Voting-verification of registration, accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
New York Board of Elections Voter Registration Form, accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
Times-Union, "Wanna buy whipped cream? Be prepared to show I.D.," Aug. 26, 2022, accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
Times-Union, "Law’s sponsor says stores misinterpreting ‘whipped cream’ bill," Aug. 31, 2022, accessed Sept. 1, 2022.
Democrat and Chronicle, "No, you don't need an ID to buy whipped cream in NY. How did things get so confusing?," Aug. 30, 2022, accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
Email interview, Kent Sopris, president of the New York Association of Convenience Stores, Aug. 31, 2022.
The New York Times, "Show ID to Buy Whipped Cream? N.Y. Law Stirs Confusion at Checkout," Aug. 31, 2022.
Insider, "It's now illegal for anyone under 21 to buy whipped cream canisters in New York, officials say it's to stop teens from inhaling nitrous oxide," Aug. 27, 2022, accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
NBC News New York, "Turns Out, It's Illegal for People Under 21 to Buy Canisters of Whipped Cream in NY," Aug. 25, 2022, accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
Today.com, "Why you now need to be 21 to buy canned whipped cream in New York," Aug. 30, 2022, accessed Aug. 31, 2022.
Alcohol and Drug Foundation, Nitrous oxide, accessed Aug, 31, 2022.
Eater, "No, You Don’t Need an ID to Buy Whipped Cream in New York," Sept. 1, 2022, accessed Sept. 1, 2022.
Observer, "Actually, Whipped Cream Is Not Illegal for New Yorkers Under 21," Aug. 29, 2022, accessed Sept. 1, 2022.
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Show ID to buy whipped cream, but not to vote? In New York, that’s misleading
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