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Judie Gorenstein
Judie Gorenstein

We are pleased to have Judie Gorenstein, Vice President of the League of Women Voters, Huntington, as a guest blogger! She wrote an informative piece for us in September about the upcoming elections and their primaries. Now, she wants you to learn about the important proposals on the BACK of the ballot, where to get an absentee ballot if you need one, and where you can find out more. Check it out! 

Election Day is November 7th. Register to vote by October 13th

 It is important that voters show up at the polls on November 7 and cast their ballots.  On the front of the ballot will be the candidates running for county, town, and local offices.  On the back of the ballot will be three New York State proposals.  Often voters do not know about the proposals and do not vote on them but the proposals ARE very important. We urge people to become knowledgeable. Have YOUR voice heard.

Proposal Number One: An Amendment

Shall there be a Constitutional Convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?

    What will this amendment do if approved?

The NYS Constitution requires that every 20 years the people decide if a Constitutional Convention should be held to consider amendments to the State Constitution.  This proposal gives the voters of NY the opportunity to to decide if there should be a convention.  If the majority of voters vote NO, then there will not be a convention.  If a majority vote YES, there will be a convention held in 2019 and two more opportunities for the voters to have a say in what happens.   In Nov. 2018, the voters will elect the delegates to this convention. These delegates will meet in 2019 and adopt amendments that will be submitted to the voters.  The voters will vote on whether to accept the amendments in November 2019.

     Proponents  for the constitutional convention see it as not only  an opportunity to streamline our State Constitution but to effect election, ethics and voting reform, which has been avoided by the state legislature. Other areas of change could be judicial reform, environmental issues, healthcare and women’s issues and protections for vulnerable populations.  Opponents of the proposal argue that a convention will allow for a complete overhaul of the Constitution and may remove or revise clauses protecting state pensions, the Adirondack forest preserve and school funding.  They also argue that funding from outside interest groups could play a major role in delegate selections resulting in the convention being influenced by the special interests.

Proposal Number Two: An Amendment

Allowing the complete or partial forfeiture of a Public Officer's Pension if he or she is convicted of a certain type of felony.

           What will this amendment do if approved?

The N.Y.S. Constitution now provides that the benefits of a public pension or retirement system cannot be reduced or impaired.  This proposed amendment would allow a court to reduce or revoke the pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the  performance of the public officer’s duties.  The court would need to consider the public officer’s crime, the  proportionality of a reduction or revocation to the crime, whether the forfeiture would result in undue hardship to dependent children, spouse or other dependents, and any other factors required by the legislature.

     Proponents of this amendment believe it is necessary to discourage elected officials from engaging in unethical behaviors.  After a string of corruption charges at local and state levels the legislature did pass this amendment to deter public officials  from committing crimes while in office.  The crimes eligible for pension forfeiture would only include crimes related to the public officer’s official duties. Opponents believe that forfeiture can unfairly hurt the families of those who committed the crimes.

Proposal Number Three: An Amendment

Authorizing the Use of Forest Preserve Land for Specified Purposes

     What will this amendment do if approved?

New York State’s Constitution protects the State’s forest preserve as wild forest land and generally prohibits the lease, sale, exchange, or taking of any preserve land.  The Adirondack forest preserve is protected under the “Forever Wild ” clause of the NYS Constitution.   The proposed amendment will allow counties and townships to conduct repairs on roads and bridges.  It would also allow for the installation of new bike paths , broadband internet, and water well infrastructure. 

     The amendment will create a land account with up to 250 acres of forest preserve land eligible for use by towns, villages, and counties that have no viable alternative to using forest preserve land to address specific health and safety purposes.  Second, it will allow bicycle paths and specified types of public utility lines to be located within the certain highways that traverse forest preserve land. Supporters of this amendment feel it is necessary to in order for these regions to maintain the safety of residents and ensure that quality of life is maintained.

     Although environmental advocacy groups typically oppose amendments to the “Forever Wild” clause, they did support this amendment and there are no known groups opposing it.

Learn More

You can read more about these proposals by going to the LWVNYS website. You can also find more information on your ballot including candidates by going to vote411.org.  Become an educated voter.

If you  think or know you will be unable to get to the polls on Election Day because you will be away, have  an illness or disability, or caregiver duties that will prevent you from voting that day, apply for an absentee ballot as soon as possible and before Oct. 31.  You can get application at post office, library, town hall or on line.  Mail it to your county board of elections and they will mail you back your ballot which you must then mail back by November. 6. 

Absentee ballots count and  they are counted.  Be a voter!