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.
Will Latest Indictment Give New Life to Ethics Reform in Albany? Don't Bet On It  (Gotham Gazette, March 24, 2017)
Why you'll be paying more on your next utility bill  (CBS News 6 Albany, March 23, 2017)
Watchdogs: Scandal-plagued Albany is filling new 'slush' funds  (The Oneonta Daily Star, March 21, 2017)
With Bharara gone, State Capitol may be weaker on ethics transgressions  (WXXI, March 16, 2017)
Legislature is largely exempt from FOIL  (Albany Times Union, March 16, 2017)
Some State Lawmakers Disappointed to See Preet Bharara Go  (Spectrum News March 14, 2017)
Assembly bills would delay plan to keep upstate nuke plants open  (Newsday, March 14, 2017)
Indian Point: Unit 3 shut down for maintenance, refueling  (The Journal News, March 13, 2017)
Many county websites have big gaps in online information  (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, March 12, 2017)
Bharara said Trump fired him after refusing to resign  (WGRZ Channel 2, March 12, 2017)
States must lead on climate change: Letter  (The Journal News, March 11, 2017)
Will Albany take steps to clean itself up?  (Press & Sun Bulletin, March 10, 2017)
Dutchess scores high in review of county websites  (Poughkeepsie Journal, March 10, 2017)
Attorney general's oil, gas probe lauded - Letter to the Editor  (Poughkeepsie Journal, March 9, 2017)
Falling Subway and Bus Ridership in New York - Letter to the Editor  (The New York Times, March 8, 2017)
Business Contributions and Campaign Finance in New York: Deep Historical Roots  (Gotham Gazette, March 8, 2017)
Public Hearing Held to Discuss Zero Emissions Credit Program  (Time Warner Cable News, March 7, 2017)
$8B state nuke plant bailout brings out supporters, critics, no Cuomo officials  (WFBO NPR Buffalo, March 7, 2017)
Decision-makers skip N.Y. nuclear bailout hearing  (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, March 6, 2017)
Energy advocates urging review of Gov. Cuomo's clean energy standard  (ABC News 10 Albany, March 6, 2017 )
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