Coalition Fighting To Make Voting Easier

A video from Capitol Tonight featuring Susan Lerner of Common Cause here.

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Rally for Voting Rights! (and full Day of Action)

On  Tuesday, June 10th, a wide coalition of grassroots activists and citizens will rally in Albany to demand passage of meaningful voting reform.

From  a press release: “(a)fter decades of disenfranchised New Yorkers and delay in reform, the group is rallying so that reforms get passed this legislative session in time for the next election primary in 2018.”

https://www.facebook.com/events/1481886185196418/

In addition to the rally, sponsors are organizing a petition, tweet storms, call-ins and faxes ongoing.

https://www.easyelectionsny.org/action-of-the-week/

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Alan Chartock’s The Capitol Connection: Constitutional Convention A Chance For Real Change

Alan Chartock supports the constitutional convention proposal, arguing that  New Yorkers “have lost faith and that’s when democracy goes south. Incredible numbers of people don’t know who their legislators are. They tell their children, “They’re all a bunch of crooks.” As a result, the people have no real way of holding their legislators accountable. Most of these elected officials can’t be voted out of office because of the money that self-serving people and special interest groups invest in their campaigns. It’s been documented over and over again. So, do we give up?”

 

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NYC Campaign Finance Board Announces 2017 Debate Program Sponsors and Schedule

Press release – Today, the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) announced the sponsors and schedule for the NYC Debate Program for the 2017 elections. The CFB has administered the Debate Program in every citywide election since 1997. The program is a core component of NYC Votes, the CFB’s nonpartisan voter engagement campaign.

“In this fall’s citywide elections, New Yorkers have the opportunity to vote for the kind of city they want to live in. Voters want information about where the candidates stand on the issues that matter most in their everyday lives, from jobs to schools to the cost of living. The CFB’s Debate Program is a critical part of our effort to get that information to voters and help them get ready to cast an informed ballot,” said Amy Loprest, Executive Director of the NYC Campaign Finance Board.

The CFB administers the Debate Program, and individual debates are sponsored by media outlets, civic groups, and academic institutions. After a thorough, competitive process, the CFB has selected two sponsor groups, in order to reach as wide and diverse an audience as possible. The sponsor groups are as follows:

  • WCBS, WLNY 1055, NewsRadio 880, 1010 WINS, Daily News, Common Cause/NY, City University of New York (CUNY), New York Immigration Coalition, Rock the Vote
  • Spectrum News NY1, WNYC, POLITICO, Citizens Union, Civic Hall, Intelligence Squared, Latino Leadership Institute
The first mayoral primary election debates will take place on August 16 and 23rd, and the mayoral general election debates will take place on October 10th and on November 1st. Each debate will be broadcast on television, on the radio, and online. The complete schedule  and criteria for participation are available on the CFB website.

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NYC Campaign Finance Board Announces 2017 Debate Program Sponsors & Schedule

Press release: The NYC Campaign Finance Board (CFB) will announce the sponsors and schedule for New York City’s official Debate Program for the 2017 elections at a press conference this Thursday, June 8, at 2 PM on the steps of City Hall.

The Debate Program is a cornerstone of the CFB’s voter education efforts, providing New Yorkers with the opportunity to compare the candidates side-by-side as they discuss issues. The program helps New Yorkers make informed choices at the polls.

While individual debates are sponsored by media, civic, and academic groups, the CFB has administered the Debate Program since 1997. Candidates for citywide office who are Campaign Finance Program participants and meet nonpartisan and objective criteria are required to participate in the debates. Sponsors also may invite non-participants who meet the same criteria.

You can check out debates from 1997200120052009, and 2013 on the CFB’s YouTube channel.

NYC Votes is the nonpartisan voter engagement initiative of the New York City Campaign Finance Board (CFB) and its Voter Assistance Advisory Committee (VAAC). In addition to promoting voter registration, participation, and civic engagement in New York City through its many programs and partnerships, NYC Votes sponsors the city’s official Debate Program and produces the citywide Voter Guide.

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State BOE: Sugarman Subpoenas Said To Be Keyed On Amedore Assistance

In the Times Union, Chris Bragg reports “subpoenas issued by the state Board of Elections’ enforcement counsel seek a wide array of documents from the New York Senate Republicans’ campaign committees, with a focus on agreements between the committees and various campaign vendors it has employed, court records show.”

Senator George Amedore’s 2014 race of of particular interest.

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Board Of Elections: 2017 Proposed Constitutional Amendments

Below is a listing of the statewide ballot proposals which will be voted on at the General Election so far this year. The language below is DRAFT language provided by the State Attorney General and will not be official until adopted by the State Board of Elections. Once this text is official we will be able to provide translations in additional required languages. The proposals shall be numbered consecutively on the voting machine or ballot. The number of each proposal shall appear in front of its designation as an amendment, proposition or question in the following form: “Proposal one, an amendment; proposal two, a proposition; proposal three, a question”.

Each of the proposals appears below, along with the question as it will appear on the ballot, the abstract summary as well as the full text of the resolution or Constitutional provision responsible for each proposal. Until the State Legislature adjourns for the year, this listing is subject to change. Please send comments to: INFO@elections.ny.gov

Question _____ – Constitutional Convention

Form of Submission of Question Number _____ — Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?

Abstract: The New York State Constitution requires that every 20 years the people decide if a Constitutional Convention should be held to consider amendments to the State Constitution. The purpose of this Ballot Question is to allow the voters of New York State to determine whether a Constitutional Convention will be held according to the procedure provided by the State Constitution.

If a majority voting on this Question votes NO, there will be no Constitutional Convention.

If a majority votes YES, three delegates from each state senatorial district will be elected in November 2018, along with 15 at-large delegates who will be elected statewide. The delegates will convene at the Capitol in April 2019. Amendments adopted by a majority of the delegates will be submitted to the voters for approval or rejection in a statewide referendum, at an election held at least six weeks after the Convention adjourns. Any amendments that the voters approve will go into effect on the January 1 following their approval.

If a majority votes in favor of a Constitutional Convention, then the delegates will receive for their services the same compensation as that payable to Members of the Assembly. The delegates also will be reimbursed for actual traveling expenses while the Convention is in session, to the extent that Members of the Assembly would be entitled reimbursement during a session of the Legislature.

The delegates will have the power to appoint the officers, employees, and assistants that they deem necessary and to fix the compensation of those officers, employees, and assistants. The delegates also will have the power to provide for the expenses of the Convention, including the printing of its documents, journal, and proceedings. The delegates will determine the rules of their proceedings, choose their officers, and be the judge of the election, returns, and qualifications of their members. A vacancy in an office of district delegate will be filled by a vote of the remaining delegates representing the district in which the vacancy occurs; a vacancy in the office of a delegate-at-large will be filled by a vote of the remaining delegates-at-large.

TEXT OF SECTION TWO OF ARTICLE XIX OF NY CONSTITUTION AUTHORIZING SUBMISSION OF QUESTION EVERY TWENTY YEARS

§2. At the general election to be held in the year nineteen hundred fifty-seven, and every twentieth year thereafter, and also at such times as the legislature may by law provide, the question “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” shall be submitted to and decided by the electors of the state; and in case a majority of the electors voting thereon shall decide in favor of a convention for such purpose, the electors of every senate district of the state, as then organized, shall elect three delegates at the next ensuing general election, and the electors of the state voting at the same election shall elect fifteen delegates-at-large. The delegates so elected shall convene at the capitol on the first Tuesday of April next ensuing after their election, and shall continue their session until the business of such convention shall have been completed. Every delegate shall receive for his or her services the same compensation as shall then be annually payable to the members of the assembly and be reimbursed for actual traveling expenses, while the convention is in session, to the extent that a member of the assembly would then be entitled thereto in the case of a session of the legislature. A majority of the convention shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and no amendment to the constitution shall be submitted for approval to the electors as hereinafter provided, unless by the assent of a majority of all the delegates elected to the convention, the ayes and noes being entered on the journal to be kept. The convention shall have the power to appoint such officers, employees and assistants as it may deem necessary, and fix their compensation and to provide for the printing of its documents, journal, proceedings and other expenses of said convention. The convention shall determine the rules of its own proceedings, choose its own officers, and be the judge of the election, returns and qualifications of its members. In case of a vacancy, by death, resignation or other cause, of any district delegate elected to the convention, such vacancy shall be filled by a vote of the remaining delegates representing the district in which such vacancy occurs. If such vacancy occurs in the office of a delegate-at-large, such vacancy shall be filled by a vote of the remaining delegates-at-large. Any proposed constitution or constitutional amendment which shall have been adopted by such convention, shall be submitted to a vote of the electors of the state at the time and in the manner provided by such convention, at an election which shall be held not less than six weeks after the adjournment of such convention. Upon the approval of such constitution or constitutional amendments, in the manner provided in the last preceding section, such constitution or constitutional amendment, shall go into effect on the first day of January next after such approval. (Formerly §2 of Art. 14. Renumbered and amended by Constitutional Convention of 1938 and approved by vote of the people November 8, 1938; further amended by vote of the people November 6, 2001.

Proposal _____ – Allowing the Complete or Partial Forfeiture of a Public Officer’s Pension if He or She is Convicted of a Certain Type of Felony

Form of Submission of Proposal Number _____, An Amendment — The proposed amendment to section 7 of Article 2 of the State Constitution would allow a court to reduce or revoke the pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s duties. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

Abstract: New York’s Constitution now provides that the benefits of a public pension or retirement system cannot be reduced or impaired. The purpose of the proposed amendment is to allow a court to reduce or revoke the pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony that has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s duties. A court would determine, after notice to the public officer and a hearing, if a public officer convicted of such a felony would lose part or all of his or her pension. In reaching this determination, the court must consider the seriousness of the public officer’s crime, the proportionality of a reduction or revocation to the crime, whether forfeiture would result in undue hardship or other inequity to dependent children, spouse, or other dependents, and any other factors required by the Legislature. The Legislature must enact law that puts this proposal into effect, taking into account principles of fairness.

The proposed amendment would define “public officer” to mean the following:

  • A person filling an elected office within New York;
  • A person holding an office that is filled by appointment by the New York Governor, whether or not that appointment has to be confirmed by the Senate;
  • A county, city, town, or village manager or administrator, or equivalent position;
  • The head of any state or local government department, division, board, commission, bureau, public benefit corporation, or public authority in New York who is vested with authority, direction, and control over that entity;
  • The chief fiscal officer or treasurer of a municipal corporation or political subdivision in New York;
  • A judge or justice of the Unified Court System; and
  • A legislative, executive, or judicial employee who directly assists in the formulation of legislation, rules, regulations, policy, or judicial decision-making and who is designated by law as a policy-maker.

If approved, the amendment will apply only to crimes committed on or after January 1, 2018.

TEXT OF PROPOSAL NUMBER _____, AN AMENDMENT

CONCURRENT RESOLUTION OF THE SENATE AND ASSEMBLY

proposing an amendment to section 7 of article 5 of the constitution, in relation to the public pension of a public officer Section 1. Resolved (if the Senate concur), That section 7 of article 5 of the constitution be amended to read as follows:

§ 7. (a)After July first, nineteen hundred forty, membership in any pension or retirement system of the state or of a civil division thereof shall be a contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a) of this section, the public pension of a public officer, as defined in paragraph (c) of this section, who stands convicted of a felony for which such felony has a direct and actual relationship to the performance of the public officer’s existing duties, may be reduced or revoked, following notice and a hearing by an appropriate court, as provided by law. The court determination whether to reduce or revoke such pension shall be based on the consideration of factors including the severity of the crime and the proportionality of a reduction or revocation of such pension to such crime. When a court issues an order to reduce or revoke such pension, the court shall consider and determine specific findings as to the amount of such forfeiture, if any, and whether forfeiture, in whole or in part, would result in undue hardship or other inequity upon any dependent children, spouse or other dependents; and other factors as provided by law. The legislature shall enact legislation to implement this amendment taking into account interests of justice.

(c) For the purposes of paragraph (b) of this section, the term “public officer” shall mean: (i) an official filling an elected office within the state; (ii) a holder of office filled by direct appointment by the governor of this state, either upon or without senate confirmation; (iii) a county, city, town or village administrator, manager or equivalent position; (iv) the head or heads of any state or local government department, division, board, commission, bureau, public benefit corporation, or public authority of this state who are vested with authority, direction and control over such department, division, board, commission, bureau, public benefit corporation or public authority; (v) the chief fiscal officer or treasurer of any municipal corporation or political subdivision of the state; (vi) a judge or justice of the unified court system; and (vii) a legislative, executive, or judicial employee of this state who directly assists in the formulation of legislation, rules, regulations, policy, or judicial decision-making and who is designated as a policymaker as set forth in statute.

(d) Paragraph (b) of this section shall only apply to crimes committed on or after the first of January next succeeding the date upon which the people shall approve and ratify the amendment to the constitution that added this paragraph.

§2. Resolved (if the Senate concur), That the foregoing amendment be submitted to the people for approval at the general election to be held in the year 2017 in accordance with the provisions of the election law.

 

EXPLANATION—Matter underscored is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted.

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