Explaining New York’s 5 Ballot Proposals

Tomorrow, Nov. 2, is election day. From 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., New Yorkers will be lining up at the polls to cast their ballots for mayor, borough president, City Council, comptroller, public advocate and more. Also on the ballot will be five proposals regarding potential changes to the New York State Constitution. 

The proposals have already been passed by the New York State Legislature, and now it is up to the voters to vote “yes” or “no” to determine whether or not the proposals are accepted. 

Across Bushwick and all of New York City, progressive officials, organizations and politicians, including expected incoming District 37 City Council representative Sandy Nurse and State Senator Julia Salazar, have been advocating for voting “yes” on the measures. 

Let’s break them down. 

Proposal 1: Changing New York’s redistricting process. 

After each census is released, district lines for legislative maps can be redrawn to accommodate changes in population. This proposal would cap the number of state senators at 63, require that all New York residents, including undocumented immigrants, be counted as a part of the total population, and require that all incarcerated individuals be counted as living at their prior home instead of where they are incarcerated. The measure would also amend the voting requirements to pass redistricting plans, pushing for a simple majority vote. 

Proposal 2: Establish the right to clean air, clean water and a healthful environment. 

This measure seeks to add the right to clean air, clean water and a healthful environment to the New York State Constitution’s Bill of Rights. In brief, passing this proposal would legally require New York State lawmakers to consider the impact on clean water, clean air and the broader environment when making legislative decisions. It would also give New Yorkers the right to sue if they believe their rights to clean water, air and a healthful environment are being violated. 

Proposal 3: Allow for same-day voter registration.

Currently, citizens must be registered to vote at least 10 days before an election in order to vote. This measure would do away with that law and give state lawmakers the chance to establish new laws that give New Yorkers more time to register to vote before an election.

Proposal 4: Make it easier to vote absentee

By law in New York, in order to vote absentee, New Yorkers are required to prove that they are out of town, sick or disabled. If they can’t prove this, they are required to vote in person. Although, at this time, all New Yorkers can vote absentee due to the pandemic, this measure would be a step toward making that permanent. It would give state lawmakers the ability to pass new laws enabling New Yorkers to vote by mail without having to provide an excuse or explanation. 

Proposal 5: Allow civil courts to hear higher claims.

Currently, New York City civil courts are only allowed to hear and decide claims up to $25,000. This measure seeks to change that law and allow civil courts to hear and decide claims up to $50,000, which would allow more judges to hear a backlog of cases that has piled up over the course of the pandemic.

Find your polling location here.

Featured image: Unsplash

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