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.
Uncertainty looms as State Legislature enters the end of session  (Newsday, June 17, 2018)
Chester supervisor Jamieson to face Albany court hearing, Town Board meeting this week  (Times-Herald Record, June 11, 2018)
Close up campaign account loophole  (Niagara Gazette, May 31, 2018)
'Zombie' campaign funds don't die when political careers do  (Plattsburgh Press-Republican, May 31, 2018)
School budget voter turnout continues fall  (The Daily Gazette, May 23, 2018)
Cuomo campaign hosts costly fundraiser in Saratoga  (Spectrum News, May 22, 2018)
Former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara hasn't been registered to vote since 2006  (Daily News, May 17, 2018)
Cynthia Nixon Promises an Anti-Corruption Panel  (The New York Times, May 15, 2018)
You don't have to be that qualified to be attorney general  (City & State New York, May 14, 2018)
Silver found guilty in corruption retrial  (WNYT, May 11, 2018)
Senate proposes ethics reform aimed at Cuomo  (Spectrum News, May 11, 2018)
GOP women: Schneiderman should donate $8.5M campaign funds  (Newsday, May 9, 2018)
History provides no clear precedent for replacing Schneiderman  (Albany Times Union, May 8, 2018)
Newly Reunited Democrats in the Senate Push for Extended Voting in New York  (WAER, May 3, 2018)
Senate Democrats unite behind several bills  (News 10 ABC, May 2, 2018)
Legislative vacancies disenfranchise residents across New York State  (Buffalo News, April 23, 2018)
When a Public Official Sells Feminism, Who Is Being Empowered?  (Jezebel, April 18, 2018)
As Senate hangs in the balance, all eyes are on Westchester and The Bronx  (Legislative Gazette, April 18, 2018)
Make it easier to access state records  (The Daily Gazette, April 18, 2018)
When is New York's primary? The answer is complicated  (AM New York, April 17, 2018)
News Archive
New York's leading civic organizations call for action to respond to the state's corruption crises.
Roadmap to Reform
News Release: Nearly 1.8 Million New Yorkers Without Full Representation
Read Our Voters Guide to the Proposed 2017 Ballot Questions
Tale of the Tape: NYPIRG 2017 Legislative Review
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
As End of Legislative Session Draws Near, NYPIRG and Other Civic Organizations Call for Overhaul of Ethics Enforcement to Restore Public Trust in Government
NYPIRG and other leading civic organizations respond to the important ethics issues raised during the Joseph Percoco trial, which went to the jury today.
News Release: As Percoco trial begins, Reformers call for strong anti-corruption measures
News Release: Watchdog Groups Unveil "roadmap" to Curbing Corruption In New York, Kicking Off Their Restore Public Trust Campaign
Letter: Watchdog Groups Call for "Restore Public Trust" Reforms in Albany
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
Reports & Features Archive