A Citizen's Guide to NYSenate.gov
NYSenate.gov is the most efficient way for New Yorkers to contact their lawmakers in the State Senate.
New York State Senators are tasked with representing 21 million citizens. This platform makes it easier for each and every citizen to participate in the legislative process, providing feedback to lawmakers on issues that matter to them. It also makes it easier for senators and staff to authentically consider and respond to the enormous volume of feedback they receive on a daily basis.
When you use NYSenate.gov to get in touch, senators and staff spend more time considering your point of view and crafting meaningful responses, and far less time sorting and categorizing mountains of message sheets, postal mail, and overflowing email inboxes.
As of May, 2017, more than 120,000 New Yorkers have signed up to participate in the lawmaking process on NYSenate.gov.
Learn about the lawmaking process of New York
If you're here, chances are that you want to get involved in our state government. It’s important to understand a little bit about the lawmaking process. We have prepared a wealth of resources for learning about how it works:
Create an account
After learning about the process, you might feel ready to take action. The first step is to create an account.
We ask for a name, email address, and a home address. Your home address provides us with the information we need to route your concerns to your senator. Your personal information is never shared with third parties.
Registering takes less than a minute (even faster if you log in with Facebook), and it ensures that your message gets to your senator’s office quickly. You only have to do it once. You'll know you've completed the process once you've clicked on the confirmation link that is sent to your email and then created a password.
Find and follow issues
Every year, the senate takes action on a vast array of issues facing New York State. When a senator posts content — whether it be a bill, resolution, an article, or a press release — they often tag it with the issue being addressed.
On NYSenate.gov, you can “follow” the issues you care about. To find them, check out the issue explorer.
From any bill page, you can send a message to your senator on that topic.
When you follow an issue, relevant content will appear on your dashboard. It also allows your senator to notify you about senate activity related to that issue.
Support, oppose, or follow bills
A bill is a proposed change to a New York law. For a bill to become a law, the senate, assembly, and governor must first approve it. You can let your senator know where you stand by visiting any bill page and clicking “aye” or “nay”. You can also "follow" the bill, which allows you to track it as it moves through the senate, assembly, and the governor's office.
When you follow, support, or oppose a bill, your interest is immediately shared with your senator’s office. Your senator can see your support and opposition during all stages of the legislative process. Additionally, senators have access to a statewide tally of support and opposition for bills that they sponsor.
Share additional thoughts on bills
Whenever you support, oppose and/or follow a bill, you can include a message to your senator letting them know why you feel one way or another. Use it to better express your opinion. Many New Yorkers like to use the space to share anecdotes about how an issue or piece of legislation affects their lives. Also, feel free to share links to relevant articles from around the web that are helping to shape your opinion. This context helps your senator better understand where you’re coming from.
Senators create petitions when they want to rally support around a cause they believe in. On NYSenate.gov, you can sign a petition authored by any member of the senate.
As is the case with all your activity on NYSenate.gov, your feedback is only shared with the senator who represents you. That means that even if you sign another member’s petition, your senator will know that you care about the issue.
Stay informed with your personal dashboard
Check your dashboard from time to time, where you can learn about action on bills you’ve supported, opposed, or followed. You can also review a list of all the petitions you’ve signed.
Followed an issue in the past? Whenever a new bill, article, or event is published under that issue, we’ll put it in the issue feed on your dashboard. This is also the place to look for direct messages from senators and/or senate staff.
In the future, we will be introducing email notifications to alert you to new activity on your dashboard.
Frequently asked questions:
Who has access to my information? Read More
By default, your senator and select members of his or her staff have access to information you choose to share on NYSenate.gov. Senators can share this information and reporting with other senate staffers if they so choose. Under NY State law and regulations, senators are not permitted to share information collected on NYSenate.gov with any political campaign committees, including their own.
Can I contact my senator without creating an account? Read More
Of course! All offices still list phone numbers, email addresses, and postal addresses, and you’re welcome to use those methods for contacting senators if that’s your preference. Find your senator using this tool.
Are NY State Senators required to vote according to the feedback gathered on NYSenate.gov? Read More
No. Senators are your elected representatives, and no one can force them to vote one way or another.
That said, all elected officials know the importance of understanding their constituents' concerns, and the your feedback and participation on NYSenate.gov helps them make informed decisions in the senate chamber.
I've signed other online petitions about state government. How is this different? Read More
Petition sites are great tools for raising awareness around certain issues. However, from an elected official's perspective, there are some drawbacks. When we created NYSenate.gov, we tried to improve the experience for both constituents and senators in the following ways:
Fraud Prevention: petition sites are not transparent about where signatures are coming from. It's very difficult for senators to tell whether the signatures are from constituents in their district or that of another senator. Moreover, elected officials have no idea what each platform is doing to suppress fraudulent signatures, diminishing confidence in the validity of the counts. They have to rely on the word and technical competence of the petition organizers or the petition site owners. NYSenate.gov's fraud-prevention tools allow the senators to have confidence in the tallies they see, knowing that signatures represent the concerns of real citizens who live in their district.
Two-way communication: petition sites often withhold contact information of signatories (phone numbers, email addresses) from the elected officials, inserting themselves as the gatekeeper between elected officials and their constituents. On NYSenate.gov, your senator is able to respond directly, letting you get the word straight from the elected official’s mouth.
Reporting: third party sites and platforms don’t give elected officials the high-level reporting that they need for analysis. NYSenate.gov sends your feedback to neat charts and graphs to help them understand the intentions of their constituents on both individual and aggregate levels.
Efficiency: lastly, these other platforms create a great deal of data entry work for senate staff. Unfortunately, when feedback is delivered this way, the data entry bottleneck often prevents your senator from knowing how you felt until well after he or she has cast their vote. With NYSenate.gov, your senator can choose to take your sentiment into consideration right up until his or her vote is cast on the floor.
I'm part of a group of New Yorkers who all seek the same action from the senate. Should we be using NYSenate.gov? Read More
Absolutely! If your group supports or opposes a bill, share the bill link and strongly encourage them to support with "Aye" or oppose with "Nay".
Alternatively, you could encourage them to support an NYSenate.gov petition that is aligned with your group’s interests.