Vote Yes Toolkit

Vote Yes to the Constitutional Convention (AKA “NY CON CON)

In the November 2017 election, the people of New York State will vote on whether they support convening a State Constitutional Convention. Citizens Union vigorously urges New Yorkers to vote YES. We firmly believe that New Yorkers must stand for a democracy worthy of its promise. A Constitutional Convention provides a once in a generation opportunity to “open” the State constitution and make much-needed reforms to improve the performance of our State government, strengthen the integrity of our political institutions and reform our broken 20th-century voting and electoral systems.

Tool #1: Get to Know the Facts

What’s at stake?

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New York does not have early voting, same day voting registration, meaningful campaign finance laws, enforceable ethics standards, meaningful local home rule, or an accountable Board of Elections.

Albany refuses to act.

Ethics reform appears dead as New York lawmakers near end of session” – Times Union | Albany passes weak corruption reform bill” – New York Post | “Cuomo Appears to Give Up on Legislature Closing LLC Loophole” – Gotham Gazette | “Lack of comprehensive ethics reform overshadows legislature’s success.” – The Buffalo News | Who’s Taking on Ethics in Albany? Not the Ethics Panels” – New York Times 

Other items that can be addressed:

Environmental Bill of Rights, already passed by the State Assembly and stalled in the State Senate | Criminal Justice Reform | Protection of the Right to ChoiceJudicial ReformWorkers Rights

This will be a convention of the people, not politicians.

33 delegates in the 1967 convention had no previous governmental experience. In fact, the body of delegates included a farmer, a clergyman, a UN official, four media professionals, and five professors. (Source: New York Times)

Citizens Union is opposed to the “double-dipping” of elected officials in a Constitutional Convention and advocate for the end of that practice, by an amendment that requires State legislators to vacate their seats if elected as delegates and limit accruing of pensions for all government officials. (Source: Citizens Union)

Citizens Union is committed to requiring publication of voter information pamphlets and voters guides about candidates for convention delegate seats. (Source: Citizens Union)

The New York State Constitutional Convention is necessary.

Amendments are constantly stalled on the floor of New York State Legislature.

We need a convention of delegates that reflects the modern day communities of New York State.

We will be working with an online platform to democratize the process for discussion of the New York State Constitutional Convention

The last convention in 1967 was not called by New Yorkers, it was called by the legislature.

Though Citizens Union supported a convention in 1967, the organization changed course, in the interest of the people of New York, by opposing the proposals which packaged both good reforms and undesirable changes in one “take-it-or-leave-it” ballot question. The voters agreed and turned down the proposed Constitution.

Tool #2: Addressing Critics.

The potential costs of the convention are overblown.

“A 1973 book from the League of Women Voters noted that $800,000 was spent on a preparatory commission and $10 million was allocated for the convention itself. Henrik Dullea, a SUNY trustee who wrote a book about the 1967 convention, thinks there were some additional costs, but doubts expenses topped $15 million.” (Source: POLITICO)

 Labor Rights are not at risk.

With the strength of union membership in New York State being the strongest in the United States, it is doubtful that the population of the State would vote to eliminate the right to unionize and bargain collectively.

Citizens Union greatly values the fundamental rights and protections provided in New York State’s constitution,

including many that provide basic freedoms analogous to those provided in the U.S. Constitution, as well as additional rights and protections in such areas as labor, education, the environment and care for the needy. Citizens Union would not support any effort to weaken or eliminate those valuable rights and protections. (Source: Citizens Union)

Public Support for a New York State Constitutional Convention is strong. New York State voters support 55 – 30 percent a Constitutional Convention to consider changes to the State Constitution, according to a Quinnipiac

Tool #3: Get to know your teammates.

Tool #3: Memes, graphics, and more for you to share with your networks.

New York Says Yes – visit the website, download images for your Facebook page and dive into educational overviews.

Yes for a New York State Constitutional Convention – Visit the Citizens Union site

NY People’s Convention – Visit the site and get a broad overview of the possibilities

Tool #4: Add a ‘New York Says Yes’ Sign on Your Website.

Multiple stories have been running that underscore the broad and diverse coalition of New Yorkers, like yourself, that are ready for a democracy worthy of its promise. Please click here if you would like to sign on with your organization to endorse a “Yes” vote.

Tool #5: Share Positive News About the Convention.

Vote Yes Op-Ed articles:

Addressing the Roadblocks to Reform in Albany

Image by Jim Bowen on Flickr

If You Want To Fix Albany, Dare To Dream Of A Constitutional Convention, Village Voice, March 23, 2017 | The people’s chance to improve Albany, Watertown Daily Times, January 7, 2017 | Thanks to governor, no threat of much-needed reform, Times Union, April 26, 2016 | How to End the Feud Between the Mayor and the Governor, New York Times, August 26, 2015 | Cuomo must seize day, push reform in Albany, Buffalo News, February 2, 2015 | How Cuomo can tame N.Y., Times Union, November 4, 2010 | New York Needs a Constitutional Convention: It’s obvious Albany can’t clean up its own mess, Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2009

Potential and Possibilities

Image by Sally Martinez/Reuters

Constitutional Convention is our chance for reform, Democrat & Chronicle, March 28, 2017 | N.Y.’s democracy needs an overhaul, New York Daily News, February 25, 2017 | Here’s How NY Protects Incumbents From Citizens — And How To Change That, The Daily Beast, January 23, 2017 | The Best Delegate Election Process for a New York Constitutional Convention, Gotham Gazette, November 17, 2016 | For a Better Judicial Nominating Process, Support a Constitutional Convention, Gotham Gazette, September 14, 2016 | The time for term limits has come to state government, Newsday, January 28, 2015 | Independent redistricting: Good enough not good enough, Times Union, October 22, 2014  | People’s Convention could bring about real reform, Buffalo News, February 2, 2010 | Voters have chance to deal with government’s decline, Albany Times Union, June 10, 2007 (via The New York State Constitution Clearinghouse)

Common Sense Conversation about the Convention

Image by Shutterstock

Constitutional convention worthy of consideration, The Daily Gazette, May 1, 2017 | Should Voters OK Referendum for a NY Constitutional Convention?, Long Island Press, April 5, 2017 | The case for a constitutional convention, Auburnpub.com, February 7, 2017 | Another Voice: Constitutional convention is needed to reshape state, The Buffalo News, February 1, 2017 | Let’s make the progressive case for the 2017 New York State constitutional convention referendum, Daily Kos, November 13, 2016 | Unions and the New York State Constitutional Convention Question, City & State New York, August 8, 2016 | Overall, a constitutional convention makes good sense, Times Union, February 28, 2016 | Constitutional commission deserves support, Times Union, January 30, 2016 | Upstate needs a constitutional convention, Star Gazette, January 5, 2016 | Pitfalls of a constitutional convention, AuburnPub.com, July 24, 2015 | Changing state constitution a monumental task, AuburnPub.com, July 22, 2015 | Thinking It Through, Daily Gazette of Schenectady, July 16, 2015 |  It is time for another NYS constitutional convention, Democrat & Chronicle, May 1, 2015 |  Constitutional Makeover, New York State Senator James L. Seward’s Blog, August 21, 2009 | One for All, New York Times, July 13, 2009

Transform Government Corruption into Governance with Integrity

Image by The Governor’s Office on Flickr  

Business Contributions and Campaign Finance in New York: Deep Historical Roots, Gotham Gazette, March 8, 2017 | All Things Political: Why so much corruption in politics?, The Island Now, February 4, 2016 | New York History: Legislative Scandals Often Lead to Meager Reform, Gotham Gazette, December 22, 2015 | CITY VOICES: Is NY government corrupt by design? City Newspaper, February 2, 2015

Vote Yes Editorials:

Fix this government and vote this fall for a Constitutional ConventionNew York Daily, News, May 22, 2017 | Editorial: Update the ways New York votesAM New York, May 7, 2017 | In Our Opinion: New Yorkers need to approve a convention, Daily Star, September 20, 2016 |  No action on constitutional convention, The River Reporter, August 24, 2016 | Constitution flaws must be addressedPress Republican, December 17, 2015 | Honor New Yorkers who fought to govern themselvesAltamont Enterprise, August 6, 2015 | New York can still fix thisAlbany Times Union, July 1, 2015 | Editorial, Leaders failed; let people tryPress-Republican (Plattsburgh, New York), March 29, 2011 | New York State needs a constitutional conventionNewsday, June 24, 2009. (via The New York State Constitution Clearinghouse)


Take a look at this recent debate on the question of the constitutional convention at Civic Hall.