As New Yorkers headed to the polls on Tuesday, city races took up most of the attention, with residents casting their ballots for new City Council members, borough presidents, and even a new mayor. But across the state, voters also had the opportunity to weigh in on five different ballot proposals that presented possible amendments to the state Constitution. The initiatives addressed several popular political issues, from redistricting to the environment to voting.
In New York City, all five proposals received more than 50 percent of the vote in favor, though with fewer votes cast compared to the mayors race. But ultimately, only two of the proposals, 2 and 5, would pass statewide. Proposal 2 would amend Article 1 of the state Constitution to “establish the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment.” Nearly 61 percent of voters voted “yes” in favor of the addition. Proposal 5 was similarly uncomplicated, allowing the New York City Civil Court to rule on claims up to $50,000. Currently, the court is limited to claims of $25,000 or less. Close to 54 percent of New Yorkers backed the change.
But the remaining three proposals, which concerned changes to the state’s voting laws and redistricting process, received the most attention and the least amount of support statewide. Eric Adams, New York City’s mayor-elect, revealed that he voted for all five initiatives and suggested that city residents do the same. On the Republican side, party leaders and members pushed for voters to reject the measures, particularly proposals 1, 3, and 4. State Republican Party chair Nick Langworthy said at an event that the proposals “defy common sense and threaten democracy,” as reported by the Staten Island Advance.
The first proposal would have made several changes to how redistricting is done in New York and altered the Independent Redistricting Commission. It would have required the drawing of district lines to include noncitizen residents in the state population and also allowed for incarcerated people to be counted at their last residence rather than where they’re currently incarcerated.
The question on the ballot itself was wordy, but did not go into specific detail about each of the changes being proposed. Whether there was confusion about the subject of the question is unclear, but 51 percent of voters statewide ended up voting “no.”
Proposals 3 and 4 both dealt with different aspects of voting. The third proposal would have done away with the requirement that a voter be registered to vote ten days prior to the day of the election. This move would have opened up the door to legislation that allowed less time in between registration and voting, even as far as same-day registration, which many Democrats support.
The fourth initiative would have made way for no-excuse absentee voting by removing the requirement that a voter must be ill or physically unable to make it to their polling place, or be out of town on Election Day, in order to receive an absentee ballot. Both proposals failed by 51 percent and 50 percent respectively.