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.
Albany Watch: Tough choices as NY budget talks hit home stretch  (Times-Herald Record, March 25, 2019)
Tough Choices as NY Budget Talks Hit Home Stretch  (U.S. News & World Report, March 23, 2019)
Public Campaign Finance Measure Struggles To Gain Ground In Albany  (WSKG, March 20, 2019)
Myrie Pushes For Publicly Financed Elections  (Kings County Politics, March 20, 2019)
Public campaign finance measure struggling to gain ground in Albany  (WXXI, March 19, 2019)
Sunshine Week In America, But Still Darkness In Albany  (WAMC, March 18, 2019)
Lawmakers work to to fill their campaign coffers  (Albany Times-Union, March 17, 2019)
NYPIRG: 125 Fundraisers Being Held During Budget Season  (Spectrum News, March 15, 2019)
The Democrats’ Commitment To Campaign Finance Reform Gets Tested  (WAMC, March 11, 2019)
State Legislature pushing to revamp embattled ethics board  (Newsday, March 10, 2019)
New York's tobacco habit  (ALbany Times-Union, March 7, 2019)
Blair Horner discusses the link between legislative pay raises and an on-time budget  (WCNY, March 4, 2019)
Lawmakers Enter The Homestretch On The Higher Education Budget  (WAMC, March 4, 2019)
State Senate's secret mail guidelines revealed  (Albany Times-Union, February 28, 2019)
Is this the year NY government rids itself of corruption and scandals?  (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, February 28, 2019)
Former AG Schneiderman's use of old campaign funds to pay legal fees  (CBS 6 Albany, February 28, 2019)
When it comes to ethics reform, pay attention to oversight  (Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, February 23, 2019)
Cuomo asserts control over Legislature's commissions  (Albany Times-Union, February 18, 2019)
Replace docile state watchdogs with independent body  (Albany Times-Union, February 12, 2019)
Test Of Albany's Commitment To Reform Looms  (WAMC, February 11, 2019)
News Archive
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
10 Common Sense Steps to Better Elections in New York State
New York Sees Decade-High Voter Turnout for Gubernatorial Election
Analysis of NY Voting Trends Shows Huge Drop-Off in NYC Voting In Gubernatorial Elections
New State Board of Elections Data Shows Widening Gap Between Democrats and Republicans
Statement on City's Inactive Voters Mailing
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
Reports & Features Archive