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Ballot Proposals for the Upcoming Election

October 13, 2021 By State Senator Andrew Gounardes
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This Election Day, there will be five proposals to amend the New York State Constitution on your ballot: Three aim to improve voting rights and the democratic process, one recognizes our fundamental right to clean air and water; and the final one will help New Yorkers quickly seek justice in NYC civil courts.

There is a lot of misinformation about the intent of these ballot amendments, so I encourage you to read more about the proposals below and vote yes on all on November 2nd.

Proposition One: Redistricting Amendment
This Amendment will create a fairer process for determining voting districts. The last time the redistricting process was amended in 2014, Republicans manipulated the process to require a supermajority vote to approve new district lines, but only if Democrats were in power – they held themselves to a lower voting threshold to approve new lines. Additionally, under the old Republican redistricting process, incarcerated people were not counted for population purposes in their home counties, but rather in the county where their prison was located. This made the upstate population artificially higher and disenfranchised NYC voters. This amendment will fix the old redistricting process and make it a more fair and balanced system.

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Proposition Two: Right to a Healthful Environment
This proposed addition to the State Bill of Rights states, “each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment.” As the climate crisis continues to wreak havoc, we must take steps to ensure a clean and safe environment for ourselves and future generations. By adding this Amendment to our Constitution, New York State will be held accountable to protect that right.

Proposition Three: Same-Day Voter Registration
Removing arbitrary and discriminatory barriers to voting is key to maintaining faith and integrity in our democracy. Currently, you have to register to vote 25 days before an election if you want to vote. If you change your registration or move someplace else in the state within those 25 days? Good luck, you probably won’t be able to vote. This amendment would provide New York State the ability to allow people to register on Election Day, thereby removing an outdated requirement that prevents tens of thousands of people from voting every year.

Proposition Four: No-Excuse Absentee Voting
Despite a global pandemic, voter turnout last year was higher than ever before. This was due, in part, to the temporary authorization of no-excuse absentee (mail-in) ballots. Not only did this provision significantly increase turnout, no-excuse mail-in ballots promote a fairer democracy. Taking time off from work and/or finding childcare to go to one’s local polling place for potentially hours to cast one’s vote is a privilege not everyone can afford. By implementing no-excuse mail-in voting, individuals will not have to choose between having their voices heard and potentially losing money or time with family.

Proposition Five: Increasing the Jurisdiction of NYC Civil Courts
The last proposition on the ballot this year increases the jurisdiction of NYC Civil Courts to hear cases regarding monetary issues from $25,000 to $50,000. This would allow these local City courts to hear a greater portion of civil cases, meaning you will get a resolution to your civil matter sooner.

I voted yes on these as bills in the Senate, and now I hope you will do the same. When you vote on November 2nd or by absentee, don’t forget to turn over your ballot and vote for these propositions as well. This is your chance to have a say in the fundamental workings of the New York State government, and to help the New York State government work for all of us.

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