New York Proposal 1, the Constitutional Convention Question, is on the ballot in New York as an automatic ballot referral on November 7, 2017. A constitutional convention is a meeting of elected delegates who propose amendments to or rewrite the state constitution.
Proposals developed at a convention are put on a ballot for voter consideration. New Yorkers voted on 12 constitutional convention questions during the 239 years between 1777 and 2016. In 2017—which is 240 years after the first constitution was ratified—citizens of the state are voting on the question for the 13th time. Of the 12 questions asked before 2017, seven resulted in constitutional conventions being held and four led to new state constitutions. Prior to 1900, four of five questions were approved. Between 1900 and 1999, three of seven questions were approved, representing a lower rate of approval compared to the previous century. As of November 1, 2017, polling indicated that a plurality of New Yorkers are interested in approving a constitutional convention question in 2017.
As of November 1, 2017, supporters of holding a state constitutional convention organized six political action committees. The committees had raised a combined total of $871,623, as of the latest disclosure reports from October 2017. Bill Samuels, a Democratic fundraiser, was the top contributor to supporters, donating $435,052. Groups that endorsed Proposal 1 include the NY State Bar Association, the NY City Bar Association, League of Women Voters of NY State, Citizens Union, and Forward March NY. Opponents of holding a convention organized as New Yorkers Against Corruption. The opposition PACs had raised $3.23 million, with unions and labor organizations making the five largest contributions. Organizations opposed to Proposal 1 include the NY State AFL-CIO, United Federation of Teachers, Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts, Right to Life, and the NY State Rifle and Pistol Association.
Section 2 of Article XIX of the New York Constitution provides for the automatic referral of a constitutional convention question every 20 years, including in 2017. The ballot question is the first step in the process of calling a constitutional convention in New York. If a majority of voters cast their ballots in favor of holding a convention on November 7, 2017, voters would elect 204 convention delegates on November 6, 2018. Fifteen of the delegates would be elected statewide. Three would be elected from each of the state’s 63 senate districts, totaling 189. The constitutional convention would convene on April 2, 2019, in Albany. Delegates would be allowed to draft a new constitution or amendments to the existing constitution. Referring a constitution or amendment to the ballot would require a simple majority vote of the delegates. Citizens would vote on the convention-proposed changes to the constitution on November 5, 2019. An approved constitution or approved amendments would take effect on January 1, 2020. Below is a flowchart detailing the process:
The contribution and expenditure totals for committees in support of the ballot question were current as of November 1, 2017 in our findings.
The following were the top six donors who contributed to the support committees as of November 1, 2017:
|William C. Samuels||$316,225.00||$118,827.33||$435,052.33|
|Jerome W. Dewald||$30,552.00||$229,714.28||$260,266.28|
|New York State Bar Association||$5,000.00||$25,982.39||$30,982.39|
|Friends of Evan Davis||$10,000.00||$0.00||$10,000.00|
The contribution and expenditure totals for committees in opposition the ballot question were current as of November 1, 2017.
The following were the top six donors who contributed to the opposition committees as of November 1, 2017:
|New York State United Teachers||$600,000.00||$22,000.00||$622,000.00|
|Civil Service Employees Association (CSEA)||$250,000.00||$0.00||$250,000.00|
|New York State Pipe Trades Association||$120,000.00||$19,272.64||$120,000.00|
Social Media Weighing In:
A constitutional convention is a chance to fix EVERYTHING. The vote no ppl don’t emphasize that ALL proposals go to NY voters to be decided.
— Seth Pollack (@sethmpk) November 1, 2017
— Citizens Union (@CitizensUnionNY) October 28, 2017
— VoteNoNY (@VoteNoNY) November 1, 2017
Absolutely. Pensions are not at risk with a convention. Article 1 Sec. 10 US constitution. Fearmongering since 1977. Common Myth #1 https://t.co/bOj5aJb82H
— NYPeople’sConvention (@PeopleVoteYes) October 15, 2017