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Long IslandPoliticsSpin Cycle

Most NYers unaware of chance to change constitution, poll shows

ALBANY — A new poll shows a plurality of New York voters support a constitutional convention that could overhaul how Albany works, although most voters still haven’t heard about the referendum question that will be on ballots in November.

Registered voters support a constitutional convention by 45-33 percent, according to a Siena College Research Institute poll released Monday.

However, just 19 percent of voters said they heard “some” or a “great deal” about a constitutional convention, while 21 percent said they haven’t heard much and 58 percent said they had heard “nothing at all.”

Voters will decide on Nov. 7 whether to authorize a constitutional convention. Delegates to be elected statewide could rewrite the state constitution and change the law on issues including ethics, corruption, campaign spending, abortion, gun control and lawmakers’ term limits.

“Compared to July, support is down among Democrats — from 30 points to now 13 points — up among Republicans to now break-even, and strongest among independents, 52-30 percent,” said pollster Steven Greenberg.

Assembly Republican leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua), who backs a convention, said opponents are using “fear tactics.” Kolb said he expects support to build.

“All the competing forces of the status quote don’t want this to happen, in both houses,” said Kolb, who is exploring a run for governor.

The Rockefeller Institute of Government, which is neutral on the referendum, is among several groups seeking to publicize the vote.

“Clearly, the recent poll results illustrate that there is more work to be done,” said Jim Malatras, president of the Rockefeller Institute. “Like our partners, we will roll our sleeves up and get back to work to make sure voters are informed.”

Most labor unions, business groups, political leaders and incumbents oppose the convention, which could take on issues that have been blocked in the legislature. The groups have recently run advertising and set up lawn signs seeking a “no” vote in November.

Voters get to decide whether to hold a constitutional convention every 20 years.

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