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.
How Democrats’ redistricting amendment could give them more power  (City & State, August 4, 2020)
NYPIRG Analysis: Legislature’s Productivity Down This Session  (New York State of Politics, July 28, 2020)
Blair Horner: Lawmakers Return To Albany For An "End" Of Session  (WAMC, July 27, 2020)
New York Senate Republicans’ bid to repeal Cuomo’s emergency powers denied by Democrats  (The Center Square, July 27, 2020)
Q And A: What's Up With Redistricting?  (Spectrum News, July 23, 2020)
State Democrats move to sharply change how legislative districts are drawn  (The Buffalo News, July 23, 2020)
Voting Protections Are Still Needed  (WAMC, July 20, 2020)
This time, Election Day could turn into Election Month  (Newsday, July 18, 2020)
Census delays from coronavirus pandemic could leave less time for remapping of N.Y.'s Congressional districts  (WABC News 10, July 15, 2020)
The Legislature Looks At NY State's Redistricting Process  (WAMC, July 13, 2020)
Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins & Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announce joint legislative hearing on independent redistricting  (Niagara Frontier Publications, July 9, 2020)
Legislature Plans Redistricting Hearing  (Spectrum News, July 8, 2020)
Cuomo's emergency powers questioned  (WXXI, July 7, 2020)
Rebalancing New York's Democracy  (WAMC, July 6, 2020)
Watchdog groups look to strip Cuomo of emergency coronavirus powers  (New York Post, July 3, 2020)
Watchdog groups want to rein in emergency powers given to Cuomo for coronavirus: report  (1010 WINS, July 3, 2020)
Reformer groups call for end to Cuomo's executive power  (Albany Times-Union, July 3, 2020)
Blair Horner discusses the primary election and NY State politics on The Capitol Connection  (WAMC, July 2, 2020)
New York Holds A Primary In A Pandemic  (WAMC, 6/29,2020)
New York Votes Amid Pandemic Challenge  (Spectrum News, June 22, 2020)
News Archive
Tale of the Tape: NYPIRG’s 2020 Legislative Review
NYPIRG Announces Gene Russianoff Retires
Reform Groups Have Urged The Governor And The Legislative Leaders To Curtail Governor's Emergency Powers And Reconvene The Session To Do The People's Work
Group statement on NY Legislature increasing police transparency by repealing Civil Rights Law 50-a
NYPIRG Joins Over 50 Organizations in Calling for New York to Reclaim the Stock Transfer Tax
Rock the Absentee: Vote by mail for Primary Election Day 6/23
NYPIRG Statement on NY Attorney General's Lawsuit on the EPA Dirty Water Rule
NYPIRG Urges Governor Cuomo and Lawmakers to Return to Session and Act on Key Issues
Letter: Good Government Groups Call for Postponement of April Primary
Reformers Urge Government to Adopt New Measures to Do The People's Business
Local Elected Officials Call for Increased Water Funding
Policy Paper - Higher Education and Its Eroding Affordability Over the Decade
Civic Organizations Unveil New Website in Push to Get Albany to Support New, Independent Ethics Watchdog
Release: NYPIRG, along with legislators and consumer, public health and environmental organizations call for protections against antibiotic-resistant "Superbugs"
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
Reports & Features Archive