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Civic Groups Demand Constitutional Convention Question Be on Front of Ballot

 

NYS Board of Elections is Urged to Put November Vote on Whether to Hold a Constitutional Convention on the Front of the Ballot

The Vote, Which Takes Place Every 20 Years, is Mandated by the State Constitution And Should Not be Relegated to the Back Page

New York, NY – May 11, 2017 – Five civic organizations have written a letter to the New York State Board of Elections calling on it to put the vote on whether to hold a Constitutional Convention on the front of the ballot in November, rather than on the back. The New York State Constitution requires that every 20 years voters be asked to decide whether a Convention will be held to propose amendments to the State Constitution. That vote will take place on November 7th.

The five organizations are Citizens Union, League of Women Voters of New York State, Long Island Association, Committee for a Constitutional Convention, and NY People’s Convention PAC. All fivesupport the holding of a Constitutional Convention to reform New York State Government in areas such as ethics and voting reform. The State Constitution provides the public with the option of holding a Convention to amend the Constitution, which otherwise must be amended by the Legislature.

“This is too important a question to be relegated to the back of the ballot,” says Dare Thompson, President of the League of Women Voters of New York State. “No one should be deprived of their vote by forgetting to turn the ballot over.”

The letter to the Board of Elections also urges that the ballot include additional neutral language explaining the Constitutional provision – in addition to the brief prescribed question “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” Bill Samuels, founder of NY People’s Convention PAC, states, “Standing alone this wording doesn’t give a sufficient picture of the role of the people in the process. 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 letter proposes that background on the question be included on the ballot as follows:

The New York State Constitution requires that every 20 years the People decide if a Constitutional Convention should be held to consider amendments to the State Constitution. The purpose of this provision is to provide an alternative to the adoption of constitutional amendments by the State Legislature, which are then submitted for voter approval.

If a majority voting on this Question One votes YES, three delegates from each state senatorial district will be elected in November 2018, along with 15 at large delegates elected statewide. The delegates so elected will convene at the capitol in April 2019. Amendments adopted by a majority of the delegates will be submitted to the electorate for approval or rejection in a statewide referendum.

If a majority votes NO, there will be no Constitutional Convention.

Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union, says, “Not everyone will have taken the opportunity to learn the basics of the Constitutional Convention process by Election Day this November. This is an easy way to bring the information to the attention of all voters.”

A copy of the letter to the Board of Elections has been sent to the State Attorney General because, under Election Law, he must advise the Board as to the form of submission of the convention question and on the wording of an abstract. Evan Davis, manager of the Committee for a Constitutional Convention, states, “The November vote is important to New York’s future. It’s essential that the Board of Elections and Attorney General be involved in addressing this matter.”

For further information, contact:

Dick Dadey, Citizens Union,
ddadey@citizensunionfoundation.org<>

Laura Bierman, League of Women Voters of New York State,
laura@lwvny.org

Matthew Cohen, Long Island Association,
mcohen@longislandassociation.org

Henry Miller, Committee for a Constitutional Convention,
hmiller@highimpactpartnering.com

Morgan Pehme, NY People’s Convention PAC,
mpehme@nypeoplesconvention.org

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