Voting Rights and Voter Mobilization

Voting Booths

NYPIRG is committed to ensuring that political participation is available and accessible to all eligible New Yorkers. Over the past four decades, NYPIRG’s non-partisan voter mobilization campaign has guarded and fought to expand the rights of voters in New York through community outreach, advocacy, media work and litigation. Our work has resulted in:

  • Thousands of new voters registered every year.
  • An expansion to the state’s “Motor Voter” law, which requires all state agencies to offer a voter registration option at the point of using the agency.
  • Sample ballots available online to help familiarize voters and speed up election day lines.
  • Inclusion of email addresses on New York City voter registration forms.
  • Student IDs permitted as a form of voter identification and more polling sites on college campuses.
  • Published reports detailing conditions at polling sites.

Still, New York’s voter registration and voter participation rates are anemic. A U.S. Elections Project analysis showed New York to have among the five worst turnout rates in the nation among eligible voters. New York must take immediate action to address systematic problems that disenfranchise voters and remove barriers that suppress voter turnout.

NYPIRG supports voter reforms, including:

  • Automatic voter registration and automatic updates to enrollment information of citizens interacting with all state and local government agencies.
  • Allowing voters to register and vote on Election Day. In the interim, New York State should shorten the registration and change of enrollment deadlines to 10 days before the election, the current minimum under the State Constitution.
  • Elimination of the patronage-controlled Boards of Elections, starting with the merit selection of permanent Board employees across the state.
  • Facilitating registration updates when a voter moves within the state.
  • Allowing 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote.
  • Codifying case law with respect to students voting from a campus-area address.
  • Guidelines for better ballots. Poor ballot design can affect every voter at a poll site. Miniscule fonts, unnecessary graphics and unreadable directions result in spoiled ballots and longer wait times for all.
  • Improved poll worker performance. Voters should come first on Election Day. Unfortunately, for too many, the patronage structure of the Boards puts party loyalty first and public service second. New York can improve poll site conditions immediately by offering time off for state and city employees working the polls, and professionalizing poll worker training so that only qualified and trained staff work the polls.
Five Ways To Fix NYC's Subways Right Now  (Village Voice, June 16, 2017)
Big-Ticket Items Falling by Wayside in Albany Leaves Room for Other Bills That Might Otherwise Be Ignored  (NY1, June 15, 2017)
8 Years of Rust Show as New York Senate Ethics Panel Finally Meets  (The New York Times, June 15, 2017)
Reform groups beg: Bolster NY's contracting laws  (Poughkeepsie Journal, June 14, 2017)
City hails Lyft in latest job fair - and why that might be a problem  (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, June 14, 2017)
Lulus should go bye-bye  (Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, June 11, 2017)
NY lobbyists earned a new record in 2016  (Poughkeepsie Journal, June 9, 2017)
Assembly GOP urges ethics reform  (WNYT Channel 13, June 7, 2017)
Legislators Look to Rein In Cuomo's Economic Development Power  (Spectrum News, June 7, 2017)
As Session Nears End, Electoral Reforms Mostly Stalled & Cuomo Quiet  (Gotham Gazette, June 5, 2017)
Andrew Cuomo moves to protect Obamacare in NY  (Newsday, June 5, 2017)
Sweeping campaign finance reform bill proposed for Ulster County  (Mid-Hudson News, June 1, 2017)
Hein pitches plan to reform county's campaign finance laws  (Hudson Valley 1, June 1, 2017)
Hein pitches campaign finance reform in Ulster County  (Times Herald-Record, May 31, 2017)
Stipend scandal adds to Dem tensions in state Senate  (Oneonta Daily Star, May 31, 2017)
Hein Unveils Comprehensive Campaign Finance Reform Proposal  (Hudson Valley News Network, May 31, 2017)
State senators' scandal highlights stipends  (Lockport Union-Sun & Journal, May 29, 2017)
New York senators' scandal highlights vast stipend system  (PBS Newshour, May 28, 2017)
Uber, Airbnb, Tech Companies Spend Big Bucks Lobbying in N.Y.  (Bloomberg BNA, May 28, 2017)
With lobbyists, big-money interests cover their bets in NY  (Democrat & Chronicle, May 26, 2017)
News Archive
Analysis: Despite Increase in Voter Registration, Turnout Fell Throughout New York State, Dips Uneven Throughout New York City (source: nypirgstudents.org)
Attend The Only Way Is Up: A Citywide Discussion to Boost Voter Turnout in New York on Friday, November 18th in Manhattan.
Analysis: More New Yorkers Are Registering to Vote; Will Voter Turn-out Remain Low? (source: nypirgstudents.org)
NYPIRG Statement on Primary Election Voting Irregularities
New York State Voters' Bill of Rights
Step-by-Step Guide to Filling Out a Voter Registration Form
New York State Voter Registration: Common Questions and Answers
NYPIRG and other good government groups call for the NYS Senate to end the practice of diverting stipends for committee chairs to other committee members
Blair Horner discusses Albany politics and the importance of voting on "It's Your System"
Watchdog Groups Call on Senate and Assembly Leaders to Hold Emergency Oversight Hearing On Allegations of Historic Bid-Rigging Scandals and Clean Contracting Reforms
NYPIRG's 2016 Legislative Review & Release of "Legislative Profiles"
Convention-Land: New Yorkers' Road Map To The Constitutional Convention
Gov't Reform Groups Call for Corruption-Busting Reform Package Now
Albany Money Machine 2016 (PDF)
Albany Money Machine 2016 (MS WORD)
REFORMERS CALL ON GOVERNOR, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO HOLD PUBLIC LEADERS' MEETINGS TO OPENLY ADDRESS STATE ETHICS REFORM
NYPIRG REACTION TO SENATOR SKELOS'S CONVICTION
NYPIRG Statement on Conviction of former Assemblyman Silver
NYPIRG & NYC Votes Best In Nation on National Voter Reg. Day
REFORMERS: DRAMATICALLY RESTRICT LAWMAKERS' OUTSIDE INCOME; FOLLOW CONGRESSIONAL SYSTEM (report)
Reports & Features Archive