Before you read this, FLIP THE PAGE! And I do not mean on this article. Election Day is merely one week away, and if you are a New York State resident, you might miss one of the most important items on the ballot if you do not flip the page over. This year, the New York Constitutional Convention (Con Con) is being voted upon to be either opened up or kept closed for the next 20 years, when it will be voted upon again. If the majority of New Yorkers vote “yes” on the Con Con, “the convention would be made up of elected delegates…[who] would come together with unlimited abilities to propose amending the constitution in any and all ways they can agree upon,” according to The Village Voice.
A recent survey done by Sienna College revealed that 45% of registered voters are in favor of the Con Con, while 33% are opposed, and 22% are still undecided. According to The New York Times, “For the past half-century, voters have demurred,” so why is this year different?
Well, proponents of the Con Con argue, that the convention will promote “fair elections, honest and ethical government, accountable and balanced government, a more effective court system, robust and functional local government, [and] methodical maintenance of [the] State Constitution,” according to Citizens Union. Although opponents worry that the Con Con would make it possible for state laws to be altered or eradicated wildly fast and easily, advocates claim that this is a pro, as the convention would make sure that the State Constitution was updated for the times. In addition, no changes to the State Constitution can be made without approval of the state. Furthermore, anyone can run for a delegate position in the Con Con, thus limiting political machinery in elections, as proposed by supporters. As a result of the Trump presidency, many voters want to reemphasize federalism, and some believe that reinstating the Con Con will achieve this.
Nevertheless, the opposition remains strong. Adversaries assert that taxes will be raised as a result of the Con Con, resulting in more money in the pockets of politicians. Additionally, an editorial writer from Queens Chronicle argues, “Of the 204 convention delegates, 189 will be elected from the state’s 63 state Senate districts; therefore, many of these delegates could likely be elected officials,” contradicting the idea that the Con Con could be made up by anyone. Many union workers are opposed to the Con Con because of the effects it might have on their places of work.
The last Con Con ballot from 1997 had a majority voting “no.” Will this be the case in 2017?