BRONXVILLE, NY — October 26, 2021 — Voters across the State will be asked to decide the fate of five ballot measures in addition to the normal electoral races on Tuesday, November 2. This November is considered an “off “year as there are no state or federal races on the ballot but we do have five possible changes to the State Constitution.
Per New York State law, in order to change the constitution, back to back separately elected sessions of the legislature have to approve the proposal first and only then does it go to the voters for a final say.
I personally had always relied on the Westchester County League of Women Voters to send their pamphlet delineating the ballot proposals as they researched in a thorough and measured way but I believe they are no longer printing this information.
The following is a compilation of my research on the proposals you will see on your ballot:
Ballot Proposal One
The first amendment concerns the redistricting process and this one in particular has a number of moving parts.
By way of background, in 2014 voters approved a change to the State Constitution that gave control of the redistricting process to an independent commission with 10 members, a mix of Democrats, Republicans and two members who did not belong to a major party.
Ballot proposal one would make a series of changes to the redistricting process agreed upon two years prior which is being implemented for the first time this year.
The changes to the amendment would fix the number of members of the State Senate at 63, preventing lawmakers from adding or removing senators going forward. This would remove a point of controversy that arose in the 2012 redistricting cycle when Republicans added a 63rd district and drew it in a way that was favorable to their party.
Another provision would solidify a state law that requires incarcerated people to be counted at their prior address not at their prison and make clear that all people, regardless of citizenship status, be counted in the redistricting process. This has been the case for decades but the amendment would enshrine it in the State Constitution. Groups such as Common Cause are very much in support of the changes as they wrote, “It will also ensure that all residents, including those who are incarcerated and those who are not yet citizens, are counted.”
Ballot Proposal Two
This would be an amendment to Article 1 of the New York State Constitution (which is actually New York State’s version of a Bill of Rights), establishing the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment. While it may seem largely symbolic, the amendment would afford the ability for New York residents to challenge their government if they are in some way denied clean water or clean air.
In other states with such a provision, citizens and advocacy groups challenged parts of states’ oil and gas laws most notably in Pennsylvania as well as legal challenges over polluted waters dumped in rivers most recently in Montana. Environmental organizations have spent years pushing this amendment.
Ballot Proposal Three
This proposed amendment would delete the current requirement in Article 2 Section 5 that a citizen be registered to vote at least 10 days before an election and would allow the legislature to enact laws permitting a citizen to register to vote less than the 10 day rule.
If the amendment is approved, it would clear the way for the State Legislature to enact same day voter registration -in essence register and then vote immediately.
Across the country, 20 states and the District of Columbia currently allow same day voter registration while the remaining 30 do not.
Supporters of the measure include most legislative Democrats while most legislative Republicans say same day registration will cut down on efforts to confirm a voter’s identity and living location.
Ballot Proposal Four
The proposed amendment would delete the current provision on an absentee ballot that requires a voter to be unable to appear at the polls by reason of absence from the county or illness or physical disability in order to use the absentee option. In essence, passage would allow any voter who wanted to vote by absentee ballot be so permitted.
Proponents see this as positive as people could exercise their right to vote while never having to leave their home.
Ballot Proposal Five
This proposed amendment would increase the New York City Civil Court jurisdiction by allowing it to hear and decide claims for up to $50,000 instead of the current jurisdictional limit of $25,000. Currently anything above $25,000 must be heard at the State Supreme Court level.
The idea behind this amendment is to help alleviate case back logs in State Supreme Court.
This proposal received unanimous support in the legislature as not only would it help decrease the backlog but also account for inflation as the $25,000 cut off has been in effect since 1983. Voters previously rejected an effort in 1995 to increase the threshold; this will simply be another opportunity.
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Mary C. Marvin is the mayor of the Village of Bronxville, New York. Share your thoughts by directing email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE: SOURCE: Margaret Parr | Parking Office Manager | Village of Bronxville | 200 Pondfield Road | Bronxville, NY 10708 | Phone: 914-623-5379.