#NYConCon 101: The Process

In New York State we have the opportunity once every twenty years to vote to hold a State Constitutional Convention. In 2017 we will vote November 7th on Proposition 1, you will need to turn over your ballot in order to vote, yes or no. This is our opportunity to let the government know whether or not we are happy with the government. If we feel that there is corruption, vote yes and attempt to create change. Action must also be taken when bills are stalling in the State Senate, discrimination is rampant, or public schools lack funding.

The Constitutional Convention does not immediately commence after a yes vote in November.

The process requires three yes votes for a change to occur:

Step 1: Vote Yes on November 7th, 2017.

When voting we will see this question on the ballot: “shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?”

Step 2: Constitutional Convention delegate campaigning begins.

People will begin to campaign to be either one of the three delegates for their state senate district or one of the 15 at-large delegates. Now, these delegates can run through one of the eight established parties or as an independent with a few additional signatures needed to qualify. For people interested in running, Citizens Union will provide information and answer questions to ensure that everyday New Yorkers can and will run and win.

Step 3: New Yorkers vote for State Constitutional Convention delegates in November 2018.

During this vote, New Yorkers will choose who they want representing them at a Constitutional Convention. In total there will be 204 delegates that will serve New Yorkers in the Constitutional Convention. The convention will then be held in April 2019. The delegates themselves will decide the structure of the convention. This freedom is necessary as technology and life changes drastically over time, so the delegates have the ability to make the Convention efficient and technology friendly.

Step 4: New Yorkers vote to ratify or reject Convention proposed amendments and/or changes.

The delegates have agreed on changes and are ready to submit them not to the legislatures, but to New York voters. Now, these changes can be presented either as one giant change or many small changes that can be voted on individually.
There are three votes and nothing gets set into law without the voters’ approval. Voters decide to have a Constitutional Convention. Then they decide whom to vote for. Finally, they decide whether they wanted the changes implemented or not.

Voters decide to have a Constitutional Convention. Then they decide whom to vote for. Finally, they decide whether they wanted the changes implemented or not.

Citizens Union is in support of the Constitutional Convention as the New York legislature is corrupt and does not function. Since 2000, 34 New York State legislators have been forced from office due to impropriety or corruption. In 2016, only five incumbent state legislators running for re-election did not win their seat.
New York does not have early voting. We must vote in person and only on Election Day. The State Constitution forbids Election Day registration. Instead, a voter must register before the election, if they wish to participate.
The Constitutional Convention provides an opportunity for campaign finance reform, enforceable ethics standards, home-rule, an environmental bill of rights, criminal justice reform, protection of the right of choice, judicial reform, and worker’s rights.
Our State Board of Elections abolished campaign finance caps, currently, individuals can give unlimited amounts of money. Legislators need to be held accountable to their voters. However, currently, the State Legislature can act on any matter that is alone chosen as a matter of State concern. So if your city has a law that helps public schools, but a legislator from another city doesn’t like it, they can go to Albany and get rid of your law.
Union workers make up 25% of New York’s workforce. However, those workers not in a union need protection such as a minimum wage sufficient to raise their families above the poverty level and a possible Worker’s Bill of Rights.
These reforms must happen at the Constitutional level. New Yorkers cannot initiate this process; it must come through the legislature. Several of these reforms could happen without a convention, but the legislature has been stalling and ignoring these issues for years. Bills have been waiting for decades to be voted on.
Are you ready to make change happen?