Election season is here! Over the next few weeks, New Yorkers will line up and vote for their next Mayor, as well as their Borough President, City Council, Public Advocate, and much more. When you’re at the polls, don’t forget to flip your ballot over and vote on the five referendums proposing changes to our state’s constitution.
This year, there are five statewide referendums on your ballot proposing changes to our state’s constitution that you need to vote “yes” or “no” on. New York voters have the final say on these ballot measures and, if they’re approved, they’ll go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022. These measures are listed in full on the Board of Elections website, but we broke these five proposals down to their bare essentials for you.
Proposal 1: Redistricting
The first ballot proposal includes over a dozen individual questions about constitutional changes to the redistricting process that voters must vote “yes” or “no” on all together. (Redistricting is the process that state lawmakers go through to redraw the boundaries of Congressional and state legislative districts based on the new population numbers reported from last year’s census. Redistricting will shape political representation at the local, state, and national level for at least another decade. Learn more about redistricting at The CITY NYC.) Some of the changes listed in Proposal 1 include:
- Cap the total number of state senators at 63
- Require that incarcerated people be counted at the address where they lived before going to jail or prison for the purposes of redistricting — not where they are being detained
- Move up the timeline by two weeks for when redistricting plans must be submitted to the legislature
- Change the vote total needed to adopt redistricting plans when one political party controls both legislative houses
Proposal 2: Environmental Rights
The second ballot proposal amends the New York State constitution to say “each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”
Proposal 3: Elections
The third ballot proposal would remove the constitutional rule requiring people to register to vote at least 10 days before an election in New York. If Proposal 3 passes, same-day voter registration in New York could become a reality — if the state Legislature approves it down the line.
Proposal 4: Voting
The fourth ballot proposal would abolish the state constitutional rule that requires voters to have an excuse or valid reason to vote with an absentee ballot. If Proposal 4 passes, the state Legislature could vote to make no-excuse absentee voting a permanent option.
Proposal 5: Civil Courts
The fifth and final ballot proposal would raise the monetary limit on claims in the city’s civil court (which is regulated by the state constitution) to $50,000. Currently, only cases involving $25,000 or less may be heard.
The General Election is November 2, 2021. New Yorkers can vote the day of at any poll site, by mail with an absentee ballot, or at their Early Voting poll site through Sunday, October 31st (costume optional, but not required).