New York State
Amend Article III of the state’s constitution to freeze the number of state senators at 63; allow the members of New York’s Independent Redistricting Commission to appoint its co-executive directors by majority vote and eliminate the requirement that one director be from different political parties; require that state Senate and Assembly districts be based on total population, including non-citizens and Native Americans; prohibit the division of census blocks in cities from being divided into more than one district; and require that inmates be counted, for redistricting purposes, as residents of their place of last residence, not their place of incarceration.
FOR The Democrats in the state Assembly, including Sandy Galef (whose district includes Philipstown) and Jonathan Jacobson (whose district includes Beacon), were nearly unanimous in their vote to put the proposal on the ballot. State Sen. Mike Gianaris of Queens, the resolution’s sponsor, said before the vote that Democrats were “unraveling the grossly unfair redistricting” that Republicans “implemented for decades.” Organizations such as the New York Public Interest Research Group support the proposal.
AGAINST Republicans in the Legislature, including Sen. Sue Serino (whose district includes the Highlands), voted against the proposal. Nick Langworthy, chair of the state Republican Committee, said on Monday (Oct. 25) that the proposal would “strip the independence from the Independent Redistricting Commission.” The League of Women Voters, predicting that passage will weaken the minority party, is among the groups opposed.
Would amend Article I of the state constitution to “establish the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment.” [See The Green Amendment.]
Would amend Article II of the state constitution to remove a requirement that a resident be registered to vote at least 10 days before an election. If passed, it would pave the way for same-day registration. Twenty states and Washington, D.C., allow residents to register and vote on the same day, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
FOR State Senate and Assembly Democrats, including Galef and Jacobson, support it. In voting for the referendum on May 11, Jacobson said: “Voting should be simple and easy. That should be the ultimate goal all the time.” Multiple special-interest groups, including Common Cause New York, support the proposal.
AGAINST Serino voted against the proposal being put on the ballot. State Senate and Assembly Republicans have raised concerns about fraudulent voting and elections boards being inundated with people registering on Election Day.
Would eliminate a requirement that absentee ballots only be allowed when someone will be away from their home county or they have an illness or physical disability that prevents them from in-person voting. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, using his emergency powers, temporarily suspended the provision for last year’s election because of the pandemic, allowing no-excuse absentee voting. New York is one of 16 states that require an excuse for absentee voting, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
FOR Serino, Galef and Jacobson, the latter who said state lawmakers “have slowly chipped away at all the phony restrictions on absentee ballots,” are in favor. Common Cause New York and other special-interest groups support the proposal.
AGAINST A majority of the state Legislature’s Republicans raised concerns about ineligible voters casting ballots.
Would amend Article VI of the state constitution to allow the state civil court in New York City to hear claims of up to $50,000, instead of $25,000.
FOR The proposal was approved unanimously by the Legislature’s Democrats and Republicans.
For more details on the statewide ballot measures, see elections.ny.gov.
Village residents are being asked to decide, in separate proposals, whether to allow licensed businesses where people can buy or smoke marijuana. If voters approve retail operations, the village would receive 75 percent of a 4 percent sales tax.
Under state law, villages, towns and cities can “opt out” of allowing sales or consumption if they act by Dec. 31. Officials in Beacon, Philipstown and Nelsonville are still considering what to do.
Should the Village of Cold Spring prohibit state-licensed establishments that permit the on-site consumption of cannabis?
Should the Village of Cold Spring prohibit state-licensed retail cannabis dispensaries?
FOR Those who favor opting out — that is, a “yes” vote on both measures — say it gives local officials more time to prepare by considering changes to zoning laws or other regulations, since a municipality can later opt in.
AGAINST Those who favor immediately allowing sales and consumption — a “no” vote on both measures — say that since New York State has made marijuana legal to purchase and consume, like alcohol, there is no reason to restrict access or make people travel to another town, village or city.
Voters are being asked to reduce the county Legislature from 25 to 21 seats.
Shall there be approved in the County of Dutchess, Local Law No. ‘A Local Law Amending Article II (Legislative Branch) of the Dutchess County Charter as it Pertains to Section 2.01 which updates the rules and procedures of the Independent Reapportionment Committee and reduces the size of the Dutchess County Legislature from twenty-five (25) members to twenty-one (21) members?
FOR The 15 Republicans on the 25-seat Dutchess County Legislature voted unanimously to put the referendum on the ballot. Both County Executive Marc Molinaro and Legislature Chairman Gregg Pulver have called for a smaller body, saying the Legislature is larger, per capita, than other Mid-Hudson counties.
AGAINST The 10 Democrats, including Beacon legislators Nick Page and Frits Zernike, voted unanimously against the proposal. While Democrats say they are not opposed to a smaller Legislature, they suspect the referendum is tied to Republicans disbanding an independent commission that had been assigned to draw new district boundaries based on 2020 census data. The Republican majority voted to restart the appointment process because of a technical violation by the Democrats in selecting one of the members.