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.
Lawmakers have questions ahead of Gov. Cuomo's budget reveal  (WGRB Channel 6, January 16, 2017)
Mystery surrounds Gov. Cuomo's budget presentation  (WNYT Channel 13, January 16, 2017)
Pay-to-play isn't going away anytime soon  (New York Post, January 16, 2017)
Cuomo tees up ethics reforms, finds skepticism  (Oneonta Daily Star, January 12, 2017)
Cuomo addresses ethics lapses in final State of the State speech  (North Country Public Radio, January 12, 2017)
As state tour ends, fate of Cuomo's agenda lies with restive legislature  (Watertown Daily Times, January 12, 2017)
Voting Reforms Would Catch New York up to Neighboring States  (WAMC, January 11, 2017)
Groups Applaud Governor Cuomo on Commitment to Offshore Wind  (LongIlsand.com, January 11, 2017)
Cuomo comes to Albany to chart his 2017 course  (Albany Times-Union, January 10, 2017)
State government? He wrote the book  (Albany Times-Union, January 10, 2017)
Indian Point nuclear power plant eyed for shutdown  (Newsday, )
Battles brew, lawmakers stew as Capitol returns to work  (Niagara Gazette, January 7, 2017)
Now a Lobbyist, Democratic Power Broker Faces Restrictions in New Job  (Gotham Gazette, January 6, 2017)
Blair Horner discusses the new Senate rules and Governor Cuomo's proposed SUNY and CUNY tuition plan on Capitol Pressroom  (WCNY, January 6, 2017)
Report: Entergy makes deal with NY to shut down Indian Point nuke by 2021  (Syracuse Post-Standard, January 6, 2017)
Ethics With Blair Horner  (WAMC, January 4, 2017)
Bernie Sanders Joins Governor Cuomo To Announce Tuition-Free College Proposal  (Gothamist, January 3, 2017)
5 issues to watch this year in NY  (Press & Sun Bulletin, January 1, 2017)
State legislator to introduce bill to require State of the State address be delivered in Albany  (WRVO NPR News, December 30, 2016)
Blair Horner Discusses Albany Politics on the Capitol Connection  (WAMC, December 29, 2016)
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
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)
REFORMERS: DRAMATICALLY RESTRICT LAWMAKERS' OUTSIDE INCOME; FOLLOW CONGRESSIONAL SYSTEM (news release)
Reports & Features Archive