New Yorkers have a chance to vote on state constitutional convention

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — “We have the power to decide whether we want to take New York in our hands and get it back in good running order,” said Peter Galie, Canisius College Emeritus professor of Political Science.

Every 20 years people throughout New York state have a chance to vote on making changes to the state constitution through a “constitutional convention.” This November, it will appear on the ballot.

The last state constitutional convention was back in 1967. New Yorkers voted no against it when they had a chance in 1997.

“We have a list of things that could be done in almost every branch of the government. The care for the needy, the criminal justice system, all of these need to be changed and brought up to date and they haven’t been and this is our chance,” said Galie.

Some local voters believe the New York state constitution could use some tweaking.

“Term limits would be a good thing,” said Christine of Kenmore.

However several unions argue a constitutional convention could repeal protections.

On a Niagara Falls billboard the Niagara Falls Police Club and Firefighters Association are urging voters to vote no.

Galie says in state history, a constitutional convention has never taken away a major right.

“Our tradition has been not to take rights away but to add them. So if history is any guide, we would be well served by another constitutional convention,” said Galie.

If people vote yes, delegates would be elected in 2018 and the convention would be held in 2019. Then voters decide whether to approve it or not.

“Whatever happens at the national level, we can see that our state does everything we can in New York to protect the environment. That’s one example of the kinds of things we can do at a constitutional convention independent of what happens at the national level,” said Galie.

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