In addition to voting for candidates in 2014, New Yorkers may also have the opportunity to vote on whether to amend specific provisions of the New York State Constitution via referenda, otherwise known as ballot proposals.
Gotham Gazette will update this page with the information about specific proposals which will appear on the ballot in the 2014 general election.
What Are Ballot Proposals?
The state constitution, like the United States Constitution, lays out government structures, citizens' rights, and the process through which the constitution can be amended.
According to the NYS Constitution, Article XIX, it can only be amended either by constitutional convention, or by referendum. For the constitution to be amended by referendum – where voters are asked for a "yes" or "no" vote to a proposal that appears on the ballot – this process must be followed:
1. A member or members of each the NYS Assembly and Senate must propose the amendment (through a resolution), and refer it to the NYS Attorney General for review.
2. The Attorney General must submit a written opinion with 20 days of referral to both the Assembly and Senate, which will explain any effects the proposed amendment would have on other provisions of the constitution. (But this is the only step which, if not completed, would not invalidate the amendment.)
3. Both the Assembly and Senate must vote on the proposed amendment, and it must receive a majority of votes in both houses of the legislature, and the "aye" and "nay" votes must be recorded.
4. In the next regular legislative session, the members of the Assembly and Senate must again vote on the proposed amendments, and it again must receive a majority of votes in both houses of the legislature.
5. The legislature must submit each proposed amendment to the NYS Board of Elections to appear on the next general election ballot.
6. The NYS Board of Elections must certify the language of the proposals - and their abstracts, or official summaries - by early August, 3 months before the General Election.
7. New Yorkers must approve the amendment proposal with a majority vote in the general election.
If a ballot proposal to amend the constitution receives a majority of votes from NYS citizens, it would be incorporated into the constitution on January 1, 2015.
*Texts of Questions, Abstracts, and Resolutions reprinted from the NYS Board of Election website.