Constitutional Convention under consideration in New York

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – November elections are drawing closer which means soon voters will have to decide a ballot question that only appears every 20 years whether or not they believe New York should hold a Constitutional Convention.

Evan Davis, a former counsel to Governor Mario Cuomo is suing the state Board of Elections in order to require that the question over whether to hold the convention should be placed on the front of voter’s ballots.

A ruling on this decision is expected in a few weeks, however, a poll by the Siena Research Institute showed that two out of three New York voters say they do not know what the Constitutional Convention even is though 47 percent still said that they would support it.

“It’s an opportunity to open up the Constitution of the state of New York,” Don Levy, Director of Siena College Research Institute, said.

Levy explains from an objective point of view, that a Constitutional Convention would only look into the state of New York’s Constitution.

The convention could look into changing a few of New York’s outdated laws, but its main focus would most likely be much bigger items such as changing the wording on legislator’s pensions, term limits, and even reducing the number of senators and assembly members.

“The fundamental questions of government are more the issue in a full-scale Constitutional Convention.”

If the Constitutional Convention, or the con con, is approved by voters this November, another election would be held in 2018 to decide who would be the delegates, the people voting on what to change in the Constitution.

Levy says that this point is surrounded by some controversy since these delegates would be paid and the convention could last for months.

“People have to run to be those delegates when you stop and think about it, who has the time?”

Then the con con would not actually be held until 2019. The delegates would then vote on whether they want to make changes and put the decision up to voters as one ballot measure or if they want to split up different issues and put multiple measures on the ballot. New York voters would probably then not get a chance to vote on those issues again until 2020.

“There have been cases in the state of New York where there were findings from a Constitutional Convention for example in 1967 that were brought forward and the voters voted them down.”

As a voter, you will be able to decide on November 7 whether you think New York should hold a Constitutional Convention.

Right now, changes can be made to the New York Constitution as long as it is approved by two legislative bodies meaning both the Senate and the Assembly would have to approve it and then a separately elected Senate and Assembly would have to approve it again. That process would take at least three years.

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