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Ballot proposals merit attention

Five amendments to the state constitution are on

Five amendments to the state constitution are on the ballot in November. Credit: Howard Schnapp

There are five proposed amendments to the state constitution on the November ballot. Make your voice heard on these important issues.

PROPOSAL 1: Albany's Democratic supermajority is trying here to tinker prematurely with New York's new system for drawing state and federal legislative district lines. An 11-member Independent Redistricting Commission is just now working to draft lines for 2022. The process has months to play out, but partisan change is already on the ballot. This proposal would make the panel and the overall process more susceptible to one-party control.

For example, the commission's co-executive directors could come from the same party. And the dominant party could overrule the commission's work more easily. Prop 1 allows a smaller legislative majority — 60% rather than the current two-thirds — to trash the commission's work and draw its own maps. Some elements of the proposal that have merit, such as counting prison inmates in the districts where they lived before incarceration, can be passed as separate measures in the future. Vote no.

PROPOSAL 2: This would put every New Yorker’s right to "clean air and water and a healthful environment" on a par with free speech, worship and assembly. It would require regulators to consider clean air and water rights in approving development projects and help environmental justice communities plagued with incinerators and other polluting projects. Vote yes.

PROPOSAL 3: Expanded ballot access is crucial to New York’s civic health. That is one benefit of this proposal, which would eliminate the requirement that prospective voters be registered at least 10 days before an election. Approval of this proposal would allow legislation setting up same-day voter registration, if lawmakers pass it. Let's at least have a debate in Albany to discuss the concerns and benefits of such a law. Vote yes.

PROPOSAL 4: This also addresses voting access, removing the requirement that voters need an excuse, such as being out of town or ill, to use an absentee ballot. Those ballots, which were a boon during the pandemic, provide an efficient alternative option for voting for those who cannot make it to the polls for many life and work schedule reasons. Vote yes.

PROPOSAL 5: This measure, which only applies to lawsuits in New York City, would allow its Court of Claims to hear cases involving amounts up $50,000, an increase from the current maximum of $25,000. It is a long-overdue adjustment for inflation and would shorten the time from many months to weeks for these matters to be resolved. Vote yes.

ENDORSEMENTS ARE DETERMINED solely by the Newsday editorial board, a team of opinion journalists focused on issues of public policy and governance. Newsday’s news division has no role in this process.