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Five statewide propositions on Nov. 2 ballot

Oct 27, 2021 5:45 am

Melissa Hale-Spencer is reporting for The Altamont Enterprise in addition to the election of various county and municipal officials on November 2, New Yorkers will vote on five amendments to the state constitution. Any proposal to amend the state constitution must be approved by voters statewide. The amendments put forward this year deal with elections, redistricting, the environment, and the courts. Proposal 1 would amend the apportionment and redistricting process. The number of state senators would be frozen at 63. The process for the state’s population would be amended, deleting provisions that violate the United States Constitution. The state assembly and senate district lines would be based on the total population of the state and the state would be required to count all residents, including non-citizens and Native Americans if the federal census fails to include them. It would also provide for incarcerated people to be counted at their place of last residence rather than at their place of incarceration for the purpose of redistricting. Proposal 2 would add just one sentence to the Bill of Rights in Article I of the New York Constitution: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” Proposal 3 would remove the constitution’s current requirement that a citizen be registered to vote at least 10 days before an election and would allow the legislature to enact laws permitting a citizen to register to vote less than 10 days before the election. Proposal 4 is a no-excuse-needed for absentee voting amendment. It would eliminate the requirement that an absentee voter must be unable to appear at the polls due to absence from the county or illness or physical disability. Currently, the state constitution allows only these two specific circumstances for an absentee ballot. An emergency executive order signed by then-Governor Andrew Cuomo during the pandemic, and then a state law following that, allowed no-excuse-needed absentee voting to stem the spread of COVID-19. If this amendment is approved, no-excuse-needed absentee voting would become part of the constitution, reform long sought by voting-rights advocates. Proposal 5 applies only to New York City Civil Court but must be passed statewide in order to amend the constitution. The amendment would increase the jurisdiction of the city’s civil court, a trial court, to hear and decide claims for up to $50,000 instead of the current limit of $25,000. A detailed  description of the five ballot proposals is available at the state Board of Elections website. Note: the five propositions are printed on the reverse side of the ballot. Read more in The Altamont Enterprise