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.
No public financing, but 'comp time' gives public help for campaigns  (Lohud.com, October 19, 2017)
Vance Controversy Spotlights Lax Campaign Finance Rules for District Attorneys  (Gotham Gazette, October 16, 2017)
Ballot proposition to strip pensions from convicted lawmakers has time limit  (North Country Public Radio, October 12, 2017)
Even liberal states have tough voting requirements because parties like it  (Newsweek, October 12, 2017)
Convention opponents outspend supporters in state referendum  (The Buffalo News, October 11, 2017)
Want to Vote Next Year, New York? Act Now!  (The New York Times, October 10, 2017)
Blair Horner discusses extreme partisan gerrymandering on The Capitol Pressroom  (WCNY, October 10, 2017)
Ballot measure would strip corrupt politicians of their pensions: "Hard-working New Yorkers are getting screwed"  (Fox 6 News, October 8, 2017)
More Corruption Trials? Possible Reprise Makes Albany Groan  (The New York Times, October 4, 2017)
Transit watchdogs urge state, city to fix lousy MTA bus service  (Daily News, September 27, 2017)
Rep. Thomas Suozzi: Bill would close loophole used by Dean Skelos  (Newsday, September 27, 2017)
NY Senator Wants To Make It Illegal For Powerful Interests To Hide Behind LLCs  (Gothamist, September 26, 2017)
New Yorkers Can Vote to Amend the State's Constitution This November  (WICZ-TV Binghamton, September 22, 2017)
Risk vs. reward: Con Con debate heating up  (The Journal News, September 22, 2017)
NY Fracking Waste Rules Not Good Enough, Environmental Groups Say  (New York Law Journal, September 22, 2017)
Many taxes, fees in New York not apparent, some hidden  (Press & Sun Bulletin, September 21, 2017)
Taxpayers could pick up ex-Sen. Tom Libous' $700K legal tab  (Press & Sun Bulletin, September 21, 2017)
Fewer two-house bills passed in 2017, continuing long-term decline  (The Legislative Gazette, September 19, 2017)
Say No to Climate Change  (New Rochelle Daily Voice, September 18, 2017)
NYPIRG Reviews 2017 Session  (Spectrum News, September 18, 2018)
News Archive
Join us on November 15, 2017 to celebrate Four Decades of the Straphangers Campaign. RSVP today!
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
Convention-Land: New Yorkers' Road Map To The Constitutional Convention
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"
Gov't Reform Groups Call for Corruption-Busting Reform Package Now
Albany Money Machine 2016 (PDF)
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
Reports & Features Archive