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.
Whither Ethics Reform?  (WAMC, May 20, 2019)
Comparing NY's corruption issues with other states  (WCNY, May 20, 2019)
Changing Albany's Pay-To-Play Culture? Maybe.  (WAMC, May 14, 2019)
Change to State's Constitution Could Allow Those Aged 17 to Vote  (Spectrum News, May 3, 2019)
'Enough Is Enough': Lawmakers Seek To Break Cuomo's Grip On NY's Budget  (Gothamist, April 26, 2019)
Cuomo schedules lavish fundraisers as legislature tussles over major issues  (New York Post, April 23, 2019)
Lobbying Spending In NY Hits A Record  (WAMC, April 15, 2019)
An upstate New York industry on the rise: Lobbying at the state Capitol  (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, April 12, 2019)
Uber spent $6 million lobbying in New York, lapping all other big spenders  (Newsday, April 11, 2019)
How 'model bills' influence the New York State Legislature  (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, April 4, 2019)
Strip Gov, Cuomo of his power over the NY state budget, Queens assemblyman says  (Daily News, April 3, 2019)
Blair Horner Executive Director of NYPIRG talks about the State Budget  (Blog Talk Radio, April 2, 2019)
New York State Budget Deal Brings Congestion Pricing, Plastic Bag Ban and Mansion Tax  (The New York Times, March 31, 2019)
All Eyes On Albany As Democrats' State Budget Comes Together  (Gothamist, March 29, 2019)
Budget season = fundraising season  (Albany Times-Union, March 28, 2019)
In Profane Rant, Cuomo Aide Calls 3 Female Lawmakers 'Idiots'  (The New York Times, March 28, 2019)
Fate of public campaign finance uncertain as Cuomo aides feud with 3 female Democratic lawmakers  (WXXI, March 28, 2019)
Cuomo budget to lobbyists: Be respectful, or face sanctions  (Newsday, March 28, 2019)
N.Y. state lawmakers slam Cuomo over fancy Fifth Ave. fund-raiser weeks before budget  (Daily News, March 27, 2019)
Albany Watch: Tough choices as NY budget talks hit home stretch  (Times-Herald Record, March 25, 2019)
News Archive
NYPIRG Statement on H.R. 1 Passage and Calls for State Law for Small Donor Public Financing of Campaigns
New York's Highest-in-the-Nation Contribution Limits Go Up
Donors Can Now Contribute Nearly $70,000 to Governor
NYPIRG Statement Applauding Governor Cuomo's Approval of Voting Reforms
Governor's Budget Responds to New Yorkers' "Pent-Up Demands" For Action
10 Common Sense Steps to Better Elections in New York State
New York Sees Decade-High Voter Turnout for Gubernatorial Election
Analysis of NY Voting Trends Shows Huge Drop-Off in NYC Voting In Gubernatorial Elections
New State Board of Elections Data Shows Widening Gap Between Democrats and Republicans
Statement on City's Inactive Voters Mailing
Read Our Recommendations to the 2018 NYC Charter Revision Commission
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
Reports & Features Archive