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.
Deadline Looms In NY's Election Calendar  (WAMC, August 13, 2018)
Cuomo, GOP leaders silent on controversial election rules  (Albany Times-Union, August 7, 2018)
Blair Horner discusses lack of reform in Albany despite recent scandals  (Metrofocus, July 27, 2018)
State lawmakers must return to tackle corruption  (Utica Observer-Dispatch, July 22, 2018)
A third of top politicians in Lower Hudson Valley missed campaign finance report deadline  (LoHud.com, July 19, 2018)
Ethics measures stall in Albany despite corruption convictions  (Newsday, July 18, 2018)
Cuomo 'doesn't know' how he could have stopped corruption, so we offer tips  (LoHud.com, July 18, 2018)
Cuomo campaign: Donors don't influence governor's actions  (Spectrum News, July 17, 2018)
Top Cuomo official and donors convicted in Buffalo Billion trial  (Politico, July 13, 2018)
Cuomo: No need to further fix system that led to corruption convictions  (WXXI, July 13, 2018)
Can Albany do anything to clean up NY corruption? 7 ethics reforms stuck in mud  (Syracuse Post-Standard, July 13, 2018)
Cuomo's Rivals Look to Tie Him to Corruption Convictions of Top Aides  (The New York Times, July 13, 2018)
Horner on Buffalo Billion Trial Verdict  (Spectrum News, July 12, 2018)
Cuomo opponents, watchdog groups pounce on Buffalo Billion verdicts  (The Buffalo News, July 12, 2018)
Guilty Verdicts In Buffalo Billion Case  (Spectrum News, July 12, 2018)
Jury convicts key players in Buffalo Billion corruption case  (The Seattle Times, July 12, 2018)
New York lawmaker earns extra money working for a political party in Bermuda  (Daily News, July 11, 2018)
Cuomo keeping Trump contributions from 2009  (Spectrum News, July 9, 2018)
NYS Exposed: Rocky start to lawmaker pay raises  (WHEC, July 6, 2018)
How Worried Should Andrew Cuomo Be?  (Governing, July 3, 2018)
News Archive
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
Step-by-Step Guide to Filling Out a Voter Registration Form
New York State Voter Registration: Common Questions and Answers
NYPIRG's 2018 Legislative Review
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
Reports & Features Archive