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.
Gov. Cuomo reveals 2018 budget proposal  (My Champlain Valley, January 15, 2018)
Gov. Cuomo reveals possible 2018 budget proposal  (ABC News 10, January 15, 2018)
On eve of corruption trials, Albany quiet on ethics reforms  (Newsday, January 10, 2018)
Why so many vacant seats? 9 huge questions about special elections  (City & State, January 9, 2018)
Corruption trials in 2018 could spur reform  (North Country Public Radio, January 5, 2018)
Reform Groups Launch 'Restore Public Trust' Campaign  (Gotham Gazette, January 5, 2018)
With Several Corruption Trials Upcoming, No Mention of Reform in Cuomo's State of the State Address  (NY1, January 5, 2018)
Cuomo criticized by government reform groups for giving scant mention to corruption issues in State of the State address  (Daily News, January 5, 2018)
Blair Horner discusses a new "roadmap" for the Governor and members of the Legislature to help curb corruption in New York  (WCNY, January 4, 2018)
In a year filled with corruption trials, advocates see potential for reform  (Albany Times-Union, January 4, 2018)
Despite Upcoming Trials, Ethics Reform Not High on Cuomo's Agenda  (Spectrum News, January 4, 2018)
Muted Support for Ethics, Voting Reforms in Cuomo's State of the State  (City & State, January 3, 2018)
Trials, budget lend uncertainty to 2018 legislative session  (Albany Times-Union, January 3, 2018)
Legislature's efficiency is measured by many metrics  (Albany Times-Union, January 3, 2018)
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's State of the State: What to look for  (Newsday, January 3, 2018)
State readies for 5 corruption trials in 2018  (Newsday, January 1, 2018)
Groups slam Cuomo for headlining Independence Party fund-raiser, getting endorsement on same day  (Daily News, December 24, 2017)
NY Gov. Proposes Early Voting  (WAMC, December 21, 2017)
Cuomo proposes early voting  (WXXI, December 21, 2017)
Democrats ready to unite in New York Senate  (My Champlain Valley, November 29, 2017)
News Archive
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
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
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"
Gov't Reform Groups Call for Corruption-Busting Reform Package Now
Albany Money Machine 2016 (PDF)
REFORMERS CALL ON GOVERNOR, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO HOLD PUBLIC LEADERS' MEETINGS TO OPENLY ADDRESS STATE ETHICS REFORM
NYPIRG REACTION TO SENATOR SKELOS'S CONVICTION
Reports & Features Archive