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Vote ‘No’ For Constitutional Convention

Hidden on the back of your ballot on Election Day will be a proposition asking if New York should host a constitutional convention to rewrite the state constitution.

Western New Yorkers should remember to flip their ballot and vote no.

The idea behind a constitutional convention is a good one. Every 20 years, New Yorkers have the option of opting for a constitutional convention to more easily make changes to the state constitution. In theory all of the state-mandated shackles that Western New York residents feel hold Western New York back can be hashed out on the floor of a constitutional convention.

It isn’t likely to be that simple. Gov. Andrew Cuomo told The New York Daily News he hasn’t heard a plan that doesn’t include many of the delegates being existing state legislators. It is a good point. Most of the regular citizens who should serve on such a panel have regular jobs and can’t spend weeks or months shuttling around the state on constitutional convention business. If the convention is populated by the status quo, it isn’t likely much would change and, actually, there is a chance things could get worse without the moderating presence of the Republican-led state Senate in the mix.

Imagine all of the costly, pie-in-the-sky ideas that come out every year in the State of the State address being on the table without the legislative process to keep things at least slightly in check. A constitutional convention could cost New York state millions of dollars in costly new regulations and programs that then can’t easily be repealed because they are part of the state constitution. As an example, remember how hard it has been to strip pensions from state legislators convicted of corruption. That is something extraordinarily popular statewide, yet it has taken getting legislation passed through the state Legislature and then two ballot propositions to make it a reality. Imagine how difficult it would be to remove something from the constitution that is loved by downstate residents and opposed by upstate residents.

One would think it is a good thing the ballot proposition for the constitutional convention is on the back of the ballot. It is not. It means the convention could be approved merely because only those who want it to pass search it out and then vote yes. It is important to flip your ballot on Election Day and vote no to a constitutional convention. We may not have much luck with the legislative process here in Western New York, but at least it gives us a fighting chance.

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