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.
Reform groups: A functioning, transparent govt is crucial now more than ever  (The Legislative Gazette, March 26, 2020)
Can State Government Work From Home During COVID-19 Outbreak?  (Spectrum News, March 24, 2020)
The State Legislature in a State of Emergency  (Gotham Gazette, March 24, 2020)
Blair Horner of NYPIRG Discusses the State Budget  (The Sanctuary for Independent Media, March 22, 2020)
MTA in Free Fall: Low Ridership Numbers Could Mean Massive Debt, Cuts  (Streetsblog, March 18, 2020)
Watchdog groups, Republican lawmakers make plea for a transparent and policy-free budget this year  (The Legislative Gazette, March 18, 2020)
Watchdog Groups: Pass a Bare-Bones Budget  (Spectrum News, March 17, 2020)
M.T.A., Citing Huge Drop in Riders, Seeks $4 Billion Virus Bailout  (The New York Times, March 17, 2020)
Health Crisis Offers Opportunities For Powerful Interests  (WAMC, March 16, 2020)
It's your duty to fill out the Census, New York  (Daily News, March 12, 2020)
The Census Count Begins  (WAMC, March 9, 2020)
Stavisky Addresses Students At NYPIRG's Higher Ed Lobby Day  (Queens Gazette, March 5, 2020)
Lobbyists made $113M in 2019 wooing NYC City Hall, Council, report says  (New York Post, March 1, 2020)
Cuomo could make bail reform changes in state budget  (New York Post, February 24, 2020)
2019 in Albany Was a Legislative Sprint. It's Much Slower This Year  (Spectrum News, February 17, 2020)
Lobbyists line up as Albany clash over flavored tobacco, vaping intensifies  (The Buffalo News, February 17, 2020)
Time To Fix Funding Of Higher Education  (WAMC, February 10, 2020)
Replacing fear with facts: Our future depends on a complete Census count  (Queens Daily Eagle, February 10, 2020)
Albany Ethics Reform Takes A Backseat To Cash And Secret Votes  (Gothamist, January 21, 2020)
Questions About The Governor's Proposed Environmental Bond Act  (WAMC, January 20, 2020)
News Archive
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
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
Reports & Features Archive