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.
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)
Cuomo's ethics plan focuses on procurement, lobbying  (Newsday, February 10, 2019)
Campaign funds should be used for just that  (Utica Observer-Dispatch, February 8, 2019)
Public Advocate Race: CUNY Edition  (Brklyner, February 8, 2019)
NY campaign contribution limits increase as Cuomo seeks to lower ceiling  (Auburn Citizen, February 6, 2019)
How Lawmakers Can Raise Their Own Pay in a Less Controversial Way  (Governing, January 31, 2019)
Blair Horner discusses the first few weeks of the 2019 Legislative session on The Capitol Connection  (WAMC, January 31, 2019)
Campaign cash paid Trump foe's legal bills after #MeToo fall  (The Times-Herald Record, January 30, 2019)
Advocates warn state of toxins in tap water  (Oneonta Daily Star, January 30, 2019)
Former NY Attorney General Used $340,000 in Campaign Donations to Pay Legal Bill After Abuse Allegations  (Newsweek, January 30, 2019)
Former NY AG Schneiderman used campaign cash for legal bills  (ABC News 10, January 29, 2019)
Schneiderman used campaign cash for legal bills  (San Francisco Chronicle, January 29, 2019)
Governor Cuomo's Higher Education Budget  (WAMC, January 28, 2019)
Legislature takes lead over governor, at least for now  (WBFO, January 17, 2019)
New Legislature Active In Albany  (WAMC, January 16, 2019)
Budget React-O-Mat  (Albany Times-Union, January 15, 2019)
As Acting Public Advocate, Johnson Eyes Information Commission Revived by James But Killed by De Blasio  (Gotham Gazette, January 15, 2019)
Make voting easier and more will vote  (Times-Herald Record, January 14, 2019)
It Looks Like New York Is Actually Going To Get Some Voting Reforms  (Huffington Post, January 11, 2019)
News Archive
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
Step-by-Step Guide to Filling Out a Voter Registration Form
Reports & Features Archive