East End Voters will have five New York State ballot propositions to consider when they cast their votes on Tuesday. Below, are a brief synopsis of each, and arguments in favor or opposed.
Proposal One, if approved by voters, would amend the State Constitution as it pertains to legislative districts for Congress and the State Senate. It would freeze the number of state senators at 63, and require that State Assembly and senate district lines be based on the total population of the state. It would require that all residents, including non-citizens and Native Americans, be counted, even if the federal census failed to do so. For the purposes of redistricting, it would mandate that incarcerated people be counted at their last residence, not where they are imprisoned.
The proposed amendment, if adopted, would revise the requirements for the appointing of co-executive directors of the redistricting commission. It’s been rebuked by opponents as susceptible to empowering whichever party is in the majority, and preventing the minority party from having input into final redistricting maps.
Proposal Two calls for an amendment to the New York Constitution that would establish the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment. What’s not to love? Opponents feel the measure’s broad language could lead to frivolous lawsuits, and the language gives great flexibility to courts to interpret its provisions. That interpretation could result in unfunded mandates, with the courts ordering municipalities to make expensive improvements to facilities. On the pro side, the amendment would require state and local governments to consider the environment, and their residents’ relationship to the environment in decision making. Supporters feel it would provide a mechanism for combating environmental racism and the disproportionate exposure to pollution in low income communities.
Proposal Three calls for the elimination of voter registration requirements that mandate a citizen be registered at least 10 days before an election. Adoption of the amendment would allow the State Legislature to enact laws allowing citizens to register to vote less than 10 days before an election, even on the same day.
Supporters feel the initiative would encourage more people to participate in the democratic process. It would allow the Legislature to craft laws allowing same-day registration and provide for a more timely updating of voter rolls. For opponents, the potential for same day voting brings with it a greater potential for voter fraud, as a person could register, then vote at multiple sites. Same-day registration could mean logistical difficulties for election officials who would have to intuit how many ballots to have available at any given site.
Proposal Four, if adopted, would change the rules surrounding absentee ballots. Currently, voters have to explain why they need to vote by absentee ballot. The Constitution restricts absentee voting to one of two scenarios: the person must expect to be out of their county of residence on Election Day, or they can’t get to their polling place due to illness or physical disability. The amendment would eliminate the need for an excuse, and enhance voter access. Most states don’t require a reason for using absentee ballots, and supporters feel the change could lighten the load at polling places on Election Day. Opponents cite a potential for voter fraud and loss of anonymity. Reliance on absentee votes could slow down the process of deriving results and cost municipalities extra in printing and postage. Finally, opponents worry about the loss of voting as a community experience.
Proposal Five would increase the jurisdiction of the New York City Civil Court by allowing it to hear and decide claims for up to $50,000, double its current jurisdictional limit. The goal of the move is to reduce backlogs and delays experienced by the New York State Supreme Court, and to adjust for inflation. By contrast, however, the measure could place a burden on the New York City Civil Court by increasing its number of cases.