2021 Sate Ballot Proposals

On Election Day, there will be five ballot proposals up for a vote across the state. Whichever ones pass will be written into the State Constitution.

Proposal 1: Redistricting

There are a number of changes rolled into one ballot proposal. You must vote “yes” or “no” for all of them together.

  • Cap the total number of State Senators at 63. Reduces the ability of a supermajority to extremely gerrymander the minority out of existence.
  • 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. Already part of state law, but not the Constitution, this can increase the counted population of New York City.
  • Shorten the timeline. This would accommodate NY’s earlier primaries.
  • Change the vote total needed to adopt redistricting plans when one political party controls both legislative houses. Reduces input needed from minority party.
  • Remove bipartisan co-executive directors of independent redistricting commission. Could reduce the bipartisan nature of the IRC.
  • Count all residents — including non-citizens. Already in state law, but provides more protection to the statute as a Constitutional Amendment.
  • Prevent new districts from splitting neighborhoods. Redistricting would have to adhere more to existing neighborhood boundaries.

The full text of Proposal 1 can be found here from the state Board of Election, Ballotpedia’s guide on the proposal is here and this deep-dive on the measure from Spectrum News is a great resource for understanding the issues at play.

Proposal 2: Right to Clean Air and Water

The second ballot measure would add a broad new right to the state constitution: “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.”

Proponents point to states like Pennsylvania and Montana where similar provisions have been used to successfully stop fracking, for example.

Opponents say the new right is too broad and can invite unnecessary lawsuits and judges creating new rules from the bench.

Proposal 3: Voter Registration

This would eliminate a Constitutional rule that you must register to vote at least 10 days before an election. This would give the legislature a chance to pass laws allowing voter registration to take place much closer to the election, up to and including same-day voter registration.

Proposal 4: Absentee Voting

This proposal would allow no-excuse absentee voting, which means anyone could request a ballot by mail even if they are not going to be out of state on election day. (This was temporarily allowed by Executive Action during the pandemic.)

Proposal 5: Increase Civil Court Claim Limit

$25,000 is currently the limit of claims in Civil Court. The last time this was changed was in 1983. This proposal would increase the claims limit to $50,000. Essentially, this shifts some suits from the State Supreme Court to Civil Court.

References:

https://www.thecity.nyc/civic-newsroom/2021/10/5/22711648/what-the-five-ballot-proposal-questions-mean-for-new-yorkers-this-november

https://gothamist.com/news/five-ballot-proposals-breakdown-november-2021