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.
Reset the Clock for Malpractice Suits  (The New York Times, August 18, 2017)
Can ballot placement prevent a constitutional convention?  (Spectrum News, August 17, 2017)
MTA, DOT efforts to improve bus service receive poor marks from advocates  (Curbed New York, August 15, 2017)
Advocacy groups rate MTA, DOT poorly in new quality report  (Bronx News 12, August 14, 2017)
National Black Theater partners with NYPIRG to register community members to vote  (Broadway World, August 11, 2017)
Cuomo Takes Charge And Goes Down Into The Subway To Point At Problems  (Gothamist, August 10, 2017)
When corrupt public officials go to prison, how much of their time do they actually serve?  (City & State, August 9, 2017)
A crash course on campaign finance for Albany's mayoral race  (Albany Times-Union, August 9, 2017)
Hempstead officials offer visions for ethics reform  (LI Herald, August 8, 2017)
Vito Lopez's leftover campaign stash is going to his church  (New York Post, August 7, 2017)
Voters will decide whether to hold constitutional convention  (WNYT Channel 13, August 7, 2017)
Capitol Watch: More potential candidates for governor emerge  (Niagara Gazette, August 5, 2017)
NYC Lawmakers Embark On 24-Hour Riders Respond Transit Tour  (CBS Channel 2, August 3, 2017)
Elected officials to ride subways for 24 hours  (Amsterdam News, August 3, 2017)
GUEST VIEW: Fight over Constitutional Convention heats up  (Utica Observer-Dispatch, July 30, 2017)
Public deserves truth about nuclear bailout  (Albany Times-Union, July 29, 2017)
Voting Reform Advocates Say Cuomo Can Do More Through Executive Order  (Gotham Gazette, July 27, 2017)
MTA boss rolls out more than $800M plan to revive degrading subway system that targets faulty signals, bad tracks  (Daily News, July 26, 2017)
$800 Million Subway Rescue Plan Adds Cars and Subtracts Seats  (The New York Times, July 25, 2017)
MTA unveils multibillion-dollar plan to save the subways  (NY 1, July 25, 2017)
News Archive
Join us on November 15, 2017 to celebrate Four Decades of the Straphangers Campaign. RSVP today!
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
Reports & Features Archive