October 22, 2021
On Election Day, November 2nd, New Yorkers will be voting for our next mayor and other important elective officeholders. We will also be voting on five state constitutional amendments, which will appear on your ballot as proposals. If passed by a simple majority, the proposition will immediately take effect on January 1, 2022 and become part of the state constitution.
Some of the five proposals are simple updates to the state constitution, while others have major implications for the State Legislature and the party in power.
WhoOntheBallot.org has included the proposals below, as well as some background information for each proposal. Please do not forget to turn over your ballot and vote.
Proposal 1 (Amendment): Amending the Apportionment and Redistricting Process
“This proposed constitutional amendment would freeze the number of state senators at 63, amend the process for the counting of the state’s population, delete certain provisions that violate the United States Constitution, repeal and amend certain requirements for the appointment of the co‑executive directors of the redistricting commission and amend the manner of drawing district lines for congressional and state legislative offices. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”
Currently, the Independent Redistricting Commission has a rule requiring that there are two co-executive directors, one appointed by each of the Republican and Democratic commissioners. The amendment would remove this rule and allow for the two co-executive directors to be picked from the same party. It would also shorten the timeline for drawing and resubmitting redistricted maps, reducing the time the Independent Redistricting Commission has to create a consensus and instead more quickly hand the authority to the State Legislature.
This amendment would also allow only a simple majority of lawmakers to approve district maps if 7 of 10 commissioners from the Independent Redistricting Commission approve. The current law requires two-thirds of state legislators for approval.
This amendment would freeze the number of State Senators at its current number, 63.
This amendment would add to the state constitution that all persons residing in the state of New York, including non-citizens or those on Native American reservations, count toward the population in the redistricting process. It also would count prison detainees by their last known address rather than their current location of incarceration. The change in location for counting prisoners would eliminate the practice of disproportionately allocating resources to areas with more prisons.
This proposal would prevent legislators from creating district borders that cut through neighborhoods.
Proposal 2 (Amendment): Right to Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthful Environment
“The proposed amendment to Article 1 of the New York Constitution would establish the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”
This proposal would add the phrase “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment” to the state’s Bill of Rights.
Proposal 3 (Amendment): Eliminating Ten‑Day‑Advance Voter Registration Requirement
“The proposed amendment would delete the current requirement in Article 2, § 5 that a citizen be registered to vote at least ten days before an election and would allow the Legislature to enact laws permitting a citizen to register to vote less than ten days before the election. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”
Currently, you must be registered to vote at least 10 days prior to any election, in order to vote in that election. This amendment would allow voters to register to vote less than 10 days before an election, and could lead to same-day voter registration.
Proposal 4 (Amendment): Authorizing No-Excuse Absentee Ballot Voting
“The proposed amendment would delete from the current provision on absentee ballots the requirement that an absentee voter must be unable to appear at the polls by reason of absence from the county or illness or physical disability. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”
In order to vote absentee, the current law says you must claim illness, disability, or absence from the county of voter registration on election day. The proposal would remove the need to make a claim or explanation in order to get an absentee ballot. This was temporarily enacted during the COVID-19 state of emergency. The proposal would permanently make this change in the constitution.
Proposal 5 (Amendment): Increasing the Jurisdiction of the New York City Civil Court
“The proposed amendment would increase the New York City Civil Court’s jurisdiction by allowing it to hear and decide claims for up to $50,000 instead of the current jurisdictional limit of $25,000. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?”
The New York City Civil Court can currently hear and decide claims for up to $25,000 (the last raise implemented in 1983). Raising the maximum to $50,000 would reduce workload for State Supreme Court judges and speed up the judicial process by allowing claims to be seen at the New York City Civil Court instead of having to wait longer periods for the State Supreme Court to see the case. It would also help adjust for current inflation levels.
The New York State Board of Elections provides the full text for all the amendments. https://www.elections.ny.gov/2021BallotProposals.html
For more information and analysis go to