Pros, Cons of Voting for a Constitutional Convention

November 2, 2017. On Election Day, New York’s voters will have their first opportunity in 20 years to call for a state constitutional convention via ballot proposition. Nearly 100 Capital District voters packed the auditorium at the Guilderland Public Library last Tuesday night for a panel discussion titled “Would New York State Benefit from a Constitutional Convention?” The event, co-presented by the League of Women Voters of Albany County and the Women’s Press Club of New York State, was moderated by Susan Arbetter, host of WCNY’s “The Capitol Pressroom,” a syndicated public radio program about state politics.

Ronald Deutsch, executive director of the Latham-based Fiscal Policy Institute, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit research and education organization committed to improving public policies and private practices to better the economic and social conditions of all New Yorkers, is equally dissatisfied with the status quo. However, he views this ballot proposition as a means of opening up the state constitution as a whole to extensive scrutiny by extremists on both sides of the political spectrum. While he says good things could result from the people calling for a convention, he’s frightened about the “really bad things [that] could happen,” citing the conservative climate now prevalent in politics at both the state and national levels which has the potential to revert or even repeal existing protections, such as the Forever Wild provision.

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