There was a strong sense of “vote yes” down the back of the ballot on Election Day last Tuesday, but some people didn’t have the foggiest Scooby Doo as to what the five proposals on the ballot meant for New York State Constitution.
A quick summary of the five proposals according to the Board of Elections:
1. Reform the redistricting process that determines representation across the state.
After the Census is completed, district lines for elected offices are usually redrawn to reflect changes in population. This process is led by the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission.
As of Tuesday, Nov. 9, according to the BOE’s results, 61.32% of voters chose Yes for this proposal, meaning that the state’s constitution would be amended to have 63 state senators and require the state to count the total population in the Census, regardless of citizenship status or if they are incarcerated.
2. Provide the right to clean air, clean water, and a healthful environment to the state.
This proposal is all about having a better environment and making that change in the New York State Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The state’s constitution as it is doesn’t technically have an “enforceable right” to clean resources, but this proposal make it so people can sue if they believe their rights to clean water, clean air, or a healthful environment are being violated. 82.13% of voters chose yes for this proposal so far.
3. Allow the State Legislature to pass new same-day voter registration laws.
The state’s constitution says that voters have to register at least 10 days before an election in order to vote. This proposal shortens that time frame, meaning that voters can walk up to the polls, register there, and then immediately go vote if they want.
60.33% of voters chose yes for this proposal so far.
4. Allow the State Legislature to pass new laws that give voters the option to vote by mail without providing an excuse. Usually voters have to prove they are out of town on the day of the election, ill, or physically disabled in order to vote by mail. But considering that a substantial number of voters chose to vote by mail due to the risk of COVID-19 in 2020, lawmakers put forth this proposal to permanently expand eligibility. As of now, the votes are still pretty close with 58.84% voting Yes and 41.16% of voters saying No.
5. Allow NYC Civil Courts to hear and decide claims up to $50,000 instead of $25,000.
Right now the Civil Courts are capped at $25,000 claims, but by raising the limits this proposal would allow judges to address a backlog of cases that has grown during the pandemic. So far 77.69% of voters have voted Yes to this proposal.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about culture and politics in New York City for The Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting: https://tinyurl.com/fcszwj8w