In the November 2017 election, the people of New York State will vote on whether they support convening a State Constitutional Convention. Citizens Union vigorously urges New Yorkers to vote YES. We firmly believe that New Yorkers must stand for a democracy worthy of its promise. A Constitutional Convention provides a once in a generation opportunity to “open” the state constitution and make much-needed reforms to improve the performance of our state government, strengthen the integrity of our political institutions and reform our broken 20th-century voting and electoral systems.
Citizens Union wants a state government that is not corrupt and lacks the regrettably all too common “pay to play” culture in which campaign contributions unduly influence legislative outcomes and the awarding of contracts. New Yorkers have a right to that. New Yorkers also deserve fairer and more competitive elections, where candidates can get on the ballot easier, and more ways and days to cast ballots. Fairer and simpler elections would increase voter turnout, improve accountability, and decrease corruption. A “cleaner” democracy will result in better schools and healthcare, a stronger economy, a cleaner environment, and a safer and freer state.
In our effort to achieve a YES vote, Citizens Union will be, over the coming year, mobilizing a movement of New Yorkers in support of a Constitutional Convention. We will articulate a positive vision for political reform and a government that works for ALL New Yorkers. We will offer the promise of HOPE for what is possible and how we can better serve all who live in the city and state. In the past, too many New Yorkers succumbed to negative campaigns and fear mongering, leading them to reject previous calls for a State Constitutional Convention in 1957, 1977, and 1997. Our campaign will be an optimistic one aimed at bringing civic-minded New Yorkers together in coalition to effect positive change.
Citizens Union greatly values the fundamental rights and protections provided in New York State’s constitution, including many that provide basic freedoms analogous to those provided in the U.S. Constitution, as well as additional rights and protections in such areas as labor, education, the environment and care for the needy. Citizens Union would not support any effort to weaken or eliminate those valuable rights and protections.
After a YES vote, Citizens Union will work to ensure that the convention would focus on a platform for democratic reform. An unlimited Constitutional Convention provides the opportunity to construct governmental systems that improve representative democracy through increased accountability, transparency, effectiveness, and ethical conduct.
With a better functioning democracy, New Yorkers will create a more accountable state government that will more efficiently serve the public interest than ever before.