New York Voting Rights Act

Preclearance review under the John R. Lewis New York Voting Rights Act (N.Y. Elec. Law § 17-210) goes into effect on September 22, 2024. If you are an election official, legislative body, or other person or body that can make changes that affect elections or voting, you may need to request preclearance review if you plan to make certain changes on or after this date.

Read the Office of the New York State Attorney General’s preliminary guidance on the entities and practices covered by preclearance and view received comments on preliminary guidance.

For more information about voting in New York State, please visit our voting resources page

The Office of the New York State Attorney General (OAG) promotes and protects the rights of all eligible New Yorkers to vote by investigating and addressing voting rights violations and by ensuring that all New York elections are run fairly and free from discrimination.   

John R. Lewis New York Voting Rights Act (NYVRA)

A state law enacted in 2022, the NYVRA strengthens the voting rights of all New Yorkers including historically marginalized and disenfranchised communities. The law requires OAG to play a role in enforcing these rights. 

The NYVRA removes barriers and protects fair, open, and equal access to the ballot box for all eligible New Yorkers. 

How the NYVRA protects the right to vote

The NYVRA prohibits practices that harm the right to vote. These practices include:

  • Voter suppression refers to laws and practices that make it harder for voters to cast their ballots. Literacy tests, for example, were used in the past to prevent people of color from voting. Today, practices to suppress votes include a lack of poll sites in communities of color.   
  • Vote dilution involves weakening or limiting the voting power of a group, often through the system used to elect representatives. The way electoral districts are drawn, or the rules used to conduct an election, can cause vote dilution.
  • Voter intimidation occurs through the use or threat of force, damage, or other harm to affect a person’s vote or registration. This can occur before, during, or after an election.
  • Voter deception involves giving people false information about voting or elections.
  • Voter obstruction means interfering with voting, the counting of votes, access to a poll site or the election process generally.

The NYVRA introduces new requirements for local jurisdictions in New York, such as, counties, cities, towns, villages and school districts:

  • Some local jurisdictions must submit election changes for preclearance. Some parts of New York have a history of violating voting or civil rights, arresting certain groups at higher rates, or having highly segregated neighborhoods. Those localities have been preliminarily identified by OAG’s Civil Rights Bureau in the OAG’s preclearance guidance. If these localities are considering changing their election procedures in certain ways, OAG or a state court must review and approve the changes before they can be made. This requirement begins on September 22, 2024.
  • Some local jurisdictions must expand support for voters with limited English proficiency. Expanding on requirements under federal law, this applies to any local jurisdiction in New York, for example, a county, city, town, village, or school district, that has a certain number of citizens at least 18 years of age who do not speak or understand English well enough to participate in elections. The locality must provide language assistance, such as translating ballots and voter-registration materials. This requirement begins on June 20, 2025.

View our NYVRA Guidance

The Office of the New York State Attorney General has issued guidance, explaining the NYVRA preclearance process and preliminarily identifying the localities and changes that will be subject to the preclearance requirement when it takes effect on September 22, 2024. 

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