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.
Blair Horner discusses the November 6th election and NYPIRG's 45th Anniversary  (Hudson Mohawk Magazine, November 15, 2018)
State panel considers pay raises for lawmakers, others  (Newsday, November 13, 2018)
Panel considers first raise for state lawmakers in almost 20 years  (The Buffalo News, November 13, 2018)
Legislators debate pay raise issue  (ABC News 10, November 13, 2018)
Census 2020 information event coming to Staten Island  (Staten Island Advance, November 10, 2018)
State Commission to Decide on State Lawmaker Increases  (Spectrum News, November 8, 2018)
Cuomo won more votes than any governor in NY history  (City & State, November 7, 2018)
NYPIRG's Russ Haven discusses the impact of the 2018 election on NYS  (The Sanctuary for Independent Media, November 7, 2018)
NYPIRG and Common Cause talk voting rights and election reform on Capitol Pressroom  (WCNY, November 6, 2018)
Vote Yes Three Times to Improve New York City Democracy  (Gotham Gazette, November 5, 2018)
Will NYC voters 'tune out" Tuesday’s election?  (The Legislative Gazette, November 5, 2018)
How NY's enrollment surge could influence key House races  (WGRZ, November 2, 2018)
The largest donors to New York candidates  (City & State, November 1, 2018)
NYPIRG discusses NYC ballot questions 1 and 2 for November 6 election   (WBAI, November 1, 2018)
The corrosive nature of money in politics is on display again  (Poughkeepsie Journal, October 30, 2018)
The (Poor) State of Ethics in New York  (Spectrum News, October 24, 2018)
The $100 Million Man: How Cuomo's campaign war chest became one of the nation's largest  (Democrat & Chronicle, October 18, 2018)
Deadline to Register to Vote in NY for November Elections is Tonight  (NY1, October 12, 2018)
Final voter registration drive push before Friday deadline  (NY1, October 11, 2018)
'What if he left a bag of money?' Judges struggle to define bribery  (New York Post, October 4, 2018)
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