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.
$100K in campaign cash to gov, mayor, county exec is routine business expense, Cor says  (Syracuse.com, December 4, 2019)
Big Donors Need Not Worry About New Albany Campaign Finance ‘Reforms’  (Gothamist.com, December 3, 2019)
Commission Sets Suggested Ballot Requirements, Donor Limits in Report  (Spectrum News, December 2, 2019)
State commission sets new hurdles for minor political parties  (Newsday, December 1, 2019)
Cuomo claims no 'inappropriate conversation' in whistleblower case  (Times Herald-Record, November 29, 2019)
Blair Horner discusses state politics and public financing of elections on The Capitol Connection  (WAMC, November 29, 2019)
Democrats' Plan Will Suppress Third Parties in New York  (The New York Times, November 25, 2019)
The State's Public Financing Commission Starts To Put Its Plan Together  (WAMC, November 11, 2019)
Grassroots 2020 candidates demand major campaign finance reform to 'level the playing field'  (November 8, 2019)
The 2019 Election Was A Snoozer That Will Change NYC's Political Future  (Gothamist, November 7, 2019)
Early voting a success, but access varied widely from county to county  (The Legislative Gazette, November 6, 2019)
Cuomo racks up campaign cash as state considers donor limit  (New York Post, November 6, 2019)
New York City to adopt ranked-choice voting  (The Hill, November 5, 2019)
Local reaction to Twitter political ad ban  (WNYT Channel 13, October 31, 2019)
Public College Students Paying Billions More Due To Tuition Hikes  (WAMC, October 28, 2019)
Politics decide when bills get to Cuomo desk  (The Times-Herald Record, October 21, 2019)
Should Taxpayer Dollars Be Spent on Political Campaigns?  (Spectrum News, October 21, 2019)
New York Starts Early Voting This Week  (WAMC, October 21, 2019)
Flawed Process Could Mar State's Campaign Finance Reform Effort  (City Limits, October 21, 2019)
The Reality Of Climate Change Clashes With Fossil Fuel Expansion  (WAMC, October 14, 2019)
News Archive
News Release: NYPIRG Urges Greater Access to Early Voting Sites
NYPIRG and Good Government Groups Issue Recommendations to the Public Campaign Financing Commission
Capital Investments: A Look at The 2018 New York State Legislative Elections
NYPIRG and civic groups urge NY Commission on Public Financing to focus on the task at hand; in 3 months establishing a new system of campaign financing.
NYPIRG statement on proposed PFOA, PFOS, 1,4-dioxane MCLs
Tale of the Tape: NYPIRG's 2019 Legislative Review
Albany Money Machine 2019
Civic Organizations Release 50-state Review of States' Ethics Boards
Release: Albany Money Machine 2019
NYPIRG Reviews Governor, Senate and Assembly Budget Plans on Key Issues
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
NYPIRG and civic groups urge legislative reforms
NYPIRG and coalition urge approval of new ethics reform plan
Despite New Limits on Legislators' "Moonlighting" In Pay Raise Deal, Albany's Reform Agenda Is Far from Finished
Report: Outside Income and Conflict of Interest in Albany
State Lawmakers Ranked Third Highest Paid in the Nation, Overwhelming Number of State Lawmakers Report No, or Little, Outside Income
10 Common Sense Steps to Better Elections in New York State
Reports & Features Archive