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.
Nuclear bailout costs downstate, offers no benefit  (The Journal News, February 15, 2017)
Study: Yonkers, big cities will pay millions for nuke bailout  (The Journal News, February 13, 2017)
Plan to bail out nuclear power plants will cost cities millions  (The Buffalo News, February 12, 2017)
Attorney General Unveils Sweeping Voting Reform Package  (Gotham Gazette, February 9, 2017)
A.G. Schneiderman Introduces Comprehensive Bill to Protect and Expand Voting Rights in NY  (LongIsland.com, February 9, 2017)
Reader's Letters: Drain the Oily Swamp  (Daily News, February 6, 2017)
Targeting pensions will get our vote  (Niagara Gazette, February 3, 2017)
NYS Exposed: Convicted state Senators get their taxpayer chair for a steal  (WHEC News 10, February 2, 2017)
On Your November Ballot: Stripping Pensions from Corrupt Politicians  (Gothan Gazette, February 1, 2017)
NY voters to decide on pensions for crooked public officials  (WXXI, January 31, 2017)
MTA drops plan to hike subway, bus base fares  (Metro, January 26, 2017)
NYPIRG's Blair Horner on the Capitol Connection  (WAMC, January 26, 2017)
M.T.A. Chief's Departure Leaves Void at Top of Agency at a Critical Time  (The New York Times, January 24, 2017)
Rule Would Require Lawmakers Seek Advisory Opinion Before Receiving Outside Income  (Time Warner Cable News, January 24, 2017)
Cuomo Locks Horns With Lawmakers Over REDC  (WAMC, January 24, 2017)
Audrey Zibelman to step down as chairwoman of state PSC  (Newsday, January 24, 2017)
Governor proposes ambitious ethics reform plan and election changes  (Legislative Gazette, January 20, 2017)
Largely Inactive Senate Ethics Committee Restructures  (Gotham Gazette, January 18, 2017)
Cuomo unveils $162B budget after private meeting with lawmakers  (Saratogian, January 18, 2017)
Cuomo Renews Millionaire's Tax in Proposed Budget  (The Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2017)
News Archive
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
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"
Convention-Land: New Yorkers' Road Map To The Constitutional Convention
Gov't Reform Groups Call for Corruption-Busting Reform Package Now
Albany Money Machine 2016 (PDF)
Albany Money Machine 2016 (MS WORD)
REFORMERS CALL ON GOVERNOR, LEGISLATIVE LEADERS TO HOLD PUBLIC LEADERS' MEETINGS TO OPENLY ADDRESS STATE ETHICS REFORM
NYPIRG REACTION TO SENATOR SKELOS'S CONVICTION
NYPIRG Statement on Conviction of former Assemblyman Silver
NYPIRG & NYC Votes Best In Nation on National Voter Reg. Day
REFORMERS: DRAMATICALLY RESTRICT LAWMAKERS' OUTSIDE INCOME; FOLLOW CONGRESSIONAL SYSTEM (report)
REFORMERS: DRAMATICALLY RESTRICT LAWMAKERS' OUTSIDE INCOME; FOLLOW CONGRESSIONAL SYSTEM (news release)
Reports & Features Archive