New York’s Constitution mandates that every 20 years the state’s voters decide whether to hold a Constitutional Convention.
It has been 20 years since New Yorkers voted down a Constitutional Convention in 1997!
Now, it is time to vote, again.
Listed below are the steps of the process, some of the major arguments for and against NYS Con-Con
(also known as Proposition 1).
HOW DOES THE PROCESS WORK?
Step 1: The state’s voters vote yes or no to the proposal to hold a Constitutional Convention. If “No” wins, then we move on with our lives.
Step 2: If “Yes” wins, then on November 6th, 2018 New Yorkers will elect delegates to represent them at the Convention (3 delegates per State Senate District and 15 at-large).
Step 3: On April 2nd, 2019, the Convention convenes, where over several months, delegates propose amendments to the state Constitution.
Step 4: On November 5th, 2019, New Yorkers would vote on every amendment proposed by the Convention.
ARGUMENTS FOR A “NO” VOTE
- Yes, Albany is broken, but dreams of a Constitutional Convention creating home-rule provisions for NYC are unrealistic with the current political climate.
- This Constitutional Convention would be dictated by the same corrupt, special-interest driven, right-wing forces that have led us to the current circumstances of our state and national government.
- If Proposition 1 passes, the delegates, who will dictate the direction of the constitutional reforms, will be elected predominantly from the Republican-controlled and gerrymandered State Senate Districts. This is not a formula for progressive change. It is a formula for unraveling the progressive protections already in existence.
- Due to weak Campaign Finance regulations, the hedge-fund, real-estate, and other prominent conservative special-interests (Koch brothers, etc.) could flood the system with money to influence politicians, delegates, and voters to adopt constitutional changes that rollback vital public interests that were enshrined in the New York State Constitution during the FDR, New Deal-era.
- We could lose labor protections, pension provisions, environmental protections, reproductive freedoms and many more crucial safeguards and rights.
- The process would be costly for taxpayers (many millions), and the fight would be exhausting for organizers, citizens, and activists. The time and energy needed to engineer campaigns, mobilize, and sustain energy to elect the right delegates, get the right amendments in place, and vote on the propositions would take valuable resources away from what should be the major progressive focus of 2018, recapturing the State Senate and US Congress.
WHO ARE THE POWER PLAYERS AND GROUPS AGAINST IT?
Generally, unions and elected officials both Republicans and Democrats are against, as well as other organizations from across the spectrum.
- New Yorkers Against Corruption – coalition of right and left groups against the con-con, includes Planned Parenthood, Sierra Club, NRA, many unions…
- No New York Convention
- Legal Aid Society – Susan Welber interviewed on this podcast
- NYCLU statement & podcast
ARGUMENTS FOR A “YES” VOTE
- Albany is broken, a Constitutional Convention is our best bet for systemic change. This process could theoretically bring ‘home-rule’ victories for New York City and unshackle the City from upstate control. It could also enshrine reproductive rights, bring about criminal justice reform, voting reform, undo gerrymandering, ethics reforms, etc. These monumental victories are nearly impossible through the regular legislative process.
- This is what Democracy Looks Like—In a heavily Democratic State, it is unlikely that amendments that strip protections will pass a statewide vote. Ultimately, all proposed amendments must be passed by the voters of the state.
- The progressive, grass-roots movement mobilized against Trump and his cronies, can turn this convention into a major victory for New York.
- The fear of special-interest, right-wing money manipulating the process is overblown and there is little evidence that major players like the Koch brothers are even interested in trying.
WHO ARE THE POWER PLAYERS AND GROUPS FOR IT?
- Rockefeller Institute
- Citizens Union
- New Kings Democrats
- NY People’s Convention
- Evan Davis of Cleary Gottlieb, and Henrik Dullea of Cornell University
BELOW ARE ARTICLES AND A VIDEO THAT GIVE ARGUMENTS FOR AND AGAINST CON-CON
- “New York Is About to Vote on a Constitutional Convention: Here’s Why You Should Care”By Ross Barkan
This Village Voice Article lists the Pros and Cons of Con-Con
- “A constitutional convention just isn’t worth the risk: New York’s environment, among other things, could come under threat” By Mark Ruffalo and Roger Downs
-This opinion piece from the NY Daily News argues that the Constitutional Convention, for all its perceived upsides, isn’t worth the risk
- “Constitutional Convention: Thanks, but No Thanks” By Editorial Board
-This NY Times opinion piece argues for a “No” vote based on the argument that the process would taxpayers millions and would be dictated by the political forces of the gerrymandered Senate Districts
- “A New York Constitutional Convention Would Be Good for Democracy” By Richard Keitner
-This article argues that the opportunities presented for transformative progressive change are through the Constitutional Convention