Monday, August 14, 2017

Suit Wants NY Constitutional Convention Question to Be on Front of Ballot

From the New York State Elections Blog that covers New York State News, Legislative Actions, Election Administration, and Litigation. The Blog is a Project of the University at Buffalo School of Law's Jaeckle Center for Law, Democracy, and Governance. The Jaeckle Center focuses on the ways in which Law, Politics, and Principles of Democratic Self-Governance intersect at the State and Local Levels.

A Good-Government and Constitutional Convention Advocate, Evan Davis, is Suing the State to move this November’s Referendum on whether to have a Constitutional Convention (Con-Con) to the front Page of the Ballot where it can’t be as easily be missed by Voters.

It's currently is one of three Referendum Questions on the Back of the Statewide Optical Scanned Paper Ballot.

The Ballot is expected to carry numerous Political Races on the Front of the Ballot.

At the same time, a collection of Good Government Groups is urging the New York Board of Elections (BOE) to place the Question asking Voters whether the State should hold a Constitutional Convention on the Front of this year's General Election Ballot.

The Leaders of the Five Groups: Citizens Union, Committee for a Constitutional Convention, League of Women Voters of New York State, Long Island Association, and the NY People's Convention PAC, worry that the State BOE will place the Question on the Back of the Ballot. The Placement of the Three Ballot Questions and Propositions depends on available space.

Dare Thompson, President of the League of Women Voters of New York State, said the Question regarding the Constitutional Convention is "too important" to place on the Rear of the Ballot. "No one should be deprived of their vote by forgetting to turn the ballot over," she said.

The Coalition is also requesting the addition of Neutral Language to the Ballot Question. The Existing Question is: "Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?"

Opponents of the Constitutional Convention want a Line added informing Voters that if a Majority votes No, there won't be a Convention. "Standing alone this wording doesn't give a sufficient picture of the role of the people in the process," said Bill Samuels, Founder of NY People's Convention PAC. "Delegates to the convention are elected by the people, and any proposals emerging from it must be approved by a public vote in order to take effect." 

The Question about whether to hold a Constitutional Convention appears on the General Election Ballot every 20 Years. It was last on the Ballot in 1997. New York Voters Rejected the Question by more than 600,000 votes.

Polls indicate there may be more of an Appetite for a Constitutional Convention this time around.

A Siena College Poll released in April found 59% of Voters support Holding a Constitutional Convention. 

One challenge for Supporters, though, might be the lack of Information about Holding a Convention. A vast Majority of Voters, 85%, told Siena that they have heard very little, if anything, about the Constitutional Convention Ballot Question.

If Voters allow a Constitutional Convention to be held:

1. Three Delegates from each of the State's 63 State Senate Districts will be Elected in November 2018.

2. - Fifteen At-Large Delegates will be Elected Statewide.

3. - The Convention would be held in April 2019.

4. - Any Amendments authored at the Convention and Approved by a Majority of Delegates will go to the State's Voters for Final Adoption in the November 2019 General Election. 

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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