Election day is Tuesday, November 2nd with early voting occurring from October 23, 2021 until October 31, 2021.  Because it is an odd numbered year, almost every candidate on the ballot will be running for a local office, such as town board, city council, and any one of several different judicial offices.  In addition to the local office races on which you will vote, it is important to know that there will also be five different ballot initiatives included on every ballot that you will also be voting on.

Some states (like California) use voter-initiated ballot questions regularly to determine public policies, to recall elected officials, and other such purposes.  In contrast, New York does not allow voters to initiate ballot questions, and it only uses ballot initiatives for very narrow purposes such as approving state bonds and amending the state Constitution once approved through the legislative process. 

This year, New Yorkers will be asked to vote on five different proposed amendments to the state Constitution as follows:

  • Ballot Question 1 - This proposed constitutional amendment would freeze the number of state senators at 63, amend the process for counting the state’s population, delete certain provisions that violate the United States Constitution, repeal and amend certain requirements for the appointment of the co-executive directors of the redistricting commission and amend the manner of drawing district lines for congressional and state legislative offices. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
  • Ballot Question 2 - The proposed amendment to Article 1 of the New York Constitution would establish the right of each person to clean air and water and a healthful environment. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
  • Ballot Question 3 - The proposed amendment would delete the current requirement in Article II, S 5 that a citizen be registered to vote at least ten days before an election and would allow the legislature to enact laws permitting a citizen to register to vote less than 10 days before the election. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
  • Ballot Question 4 - The proposed amendment would delete from the current provision on absentee ballots the requirement that an absentee voter must be unable to appear at the polls by reason of absence from the country or illness or physical disability. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?
  • Ballot Question 5 - The proposed amendment would increase the New York City Civil Court’s jurisdiction by allowing it to hear and decide claims for up to $50,000 instead of the current jurisdictional limit of $25,000. Shall the proposed amendment be approved?

As you can read, some of these ballot initiative questions are intricate and have layers of complexity to them.  If you are interested in more information about these ballot initiatives, New York State of Politics published a helpful guide, which you can find here: https://nystateofpolitics.com/state-of-politics/new-york/politics/2021/09/24/new-york-s-november-ballot-questions---1---amending-the-state-s-redistricting-process-.  To find details on your local races and where to vote, you can visit this link to find your local county board of elections website, which will have relevant voting information.

As always, we will continue to share any additional information of importance as it is released. If you have additional questions about this update, please reach out to a member of our Government Affairs practice group for assistance:

Amy J. Kellogg
John M. Jennings


Attorney Advertising. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. This publication is provided as a service to clients and friends of Harter Secrest & Emery LLP. It is intended for general information purposes only and should not be considered as legal advice. The contents are neither an exhaustive discussion nor do they purport to cover all developments in the area. The reader should consult with legal counsel to determine how applicable laws relate to specific situations. ©2021 Harter Secrest & Emery LLP

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