New York’s Five Ballot Proposals: Explained

[Follow our live coverage of N.Y.C. elections.]

If you are reading this, you are probably well aware of New York City’s mayoral election and the other city races competing this year. But you may be less aware of the five potential changes to the state constitution that you will see when you flip your ballot.

The issues on the ballot paper include measures involving legislative redistribution, changes in voting laws, environmental policy and New York City’s civil courts. All approved will take effect January 1, 2022.

According to the political website Ballotpedia, New Yorkers approved 74 percent of the state’s ballots from 1985 to 2020.

Registered voters can decide on the proposals by voting during the early voting, which runs through Sunday, or on election day, Tuesday 2 November. The Electoral Board’s polling station has information on where and when you must cast your vote.

Here is an overview of the five ballot papers and what they entail. The full text of each can be found on the Election Board’s website.

This measure involves drawing up legislative cards, which take place every 10 years. Among other things, it would limit the number of state senators to 63, require all New Yorkers to be counted in the U.S. census regardless of their citizenship status, and count imprisoned persons at their last place of residence instead of where they are detained.

Michael Li, a senior adviser at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, said it was necessary to maintain the existing number of state senators to prevent gerrymandering, the practice of manipulating congressional district lines of political gain. To freeze the number, Mr. Li, would prevent the creation of new districts that could be used for party political purposes.

The measure would also lift the current requirement that two-thirds of state legislators agree to adopt redistribution plans in favor of a simple majority in both the Assembly and the Senate.

Opponents of the proposal, including The League of Women Voters of New York State, have focused on this point, saying that allowing a simple majority to make such decisions could diminish the voting power of a minority party.

“It does not give other parties a fair chance to have any influence in this process,” said Jennifer Wilson, the group’s deputy director.

Sir. Li argued that it was difficult to say with certainty whether the new district maps would be better or worse for minority parties because the process is complicated.

“We will see how this new system works,” he said. “It may be that New York needs more reform once we’ve seen what the maps look like.”

This measure would give New Yorkers a constitutional right to clean air, water and a “healthy environment.” The language of the proposal is vague as to what a “healthy environment” is or how the standard would be legally enforced.

Eddie Bautista, executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, said the measure was particularly important for black and brown communities because they experience disproportionate levels of pollution.

“We can not exercise our right to freedom of expression if we have trouble breathing,” he said. Bautista. ‘If you want the right to speak, you have the right to breathe. This is a long awaited and welcome addition to the Constitution. “

Critics of the measure have cited its widespread language as a concern, arguing that the lack of specificity could lead to unnecessary lawsuits. State Senator Dan Stec, a Republican representing the North Country region, said in a statement that the proposal would place the burden on law enforcement.

“Businesses, including farms, are very concerned about what this will mean if adopted, especially in a time of enormous challenges and uncertainty due to Covid-19,” said Mr. Stec. “We owe it to the voters to at least offer them something more clearly defined.”

But environmentalists said the language of the proposal only poses a risk to those who know it may be polluting the environment.

The measure, one of two proposals for ballot papers related to voting rights, would remove a rule requiring voters to register at least 10 days before an election.

If passed, the measure would allow state legislators to pass voter registration on the same day, something that 20 states already have.

The measure would be particularly beneficial to voters who do not begin to pay attention to local politics until late in the election cycle, said Jan Combopiano, senior policy director of the Brooklyn Voters Alliance.

“It really hurts people who get activated and interested in a choice late in the game and there is no reason to punish those people,” she said. “They have not been paying attention until maybe the last month – it’s like human nature.”

The second proposed change to the voting process would eliminate the requirement that those requesting missing ballot papers explain why they do so.

Under current law, ballot papers are only allowed for voters who expect to be away on election day or who have an illness or disability that would prevent them from voting in person.

There was an increase in the number of absentee ballots last year due to the coronavirus pandemic; Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued a decree that automatically gave all New Yorkers applications for absentee ballots.

Mrs Combopiano said that if approved, both voting measures would increase turnout by making it easier to vote. Expanding access to absenteeism specifically would make it easier for New Yorkers to take their time and make more informed decisions, she said.

This measure would double the monetary limit for claims filed in New York City’s civil courts to $ 50,000 from $ 25,000. This would allow the courts to consider several small claims, reducing the burden of such cases on the state Supreme Court.

In theory, the measure should make it faster, easier and cheaper for people to resolve disputes legally.

While the change is likely to increase the efficiency of litigation, it could also increase the workload of the city’s civil courts, which are already understaffed, said Sidney Cherubin, director of legal services at the Brooklyn Volunteer Lawyers Project.

If the measure goes through, he said, the state would have to help civil courts deal with the likely increase in cases, perhaps by hiring more judges or increasing funding for the system.

“What we expect is a faster settlement for lawsuits,” Mr. Cherubin. He added: “It will not cure all the problems, but it will take us a step in the right direction.”

Leave a Comment