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League of Women Voters of New York State Constitutional Convention Delegation Selection Process Position Update Prepared by the League of Women Voters.

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Presentation on theme: "League of Women Voters of New York State Constitutional Convention Delegation Selection Process Position Update Prepared by the League of Women Voters."— Presentation transcript:

1 League of Women Voters of New York State Constitutional Convention Delegation Selection Process Position Update Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

2 How does the New York State Constitution get amended? Article XIX of the New York State constitution defines two methods: 1. Passage by two consecutively elected legislatures 2. By constitutional convention In either case, a proposed amendment does not become effective until the voters of New York State, by referendum, approve it. 2 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

3 When is a Constitutional Convention held? There are two ways to call a constitutional convention. Article XIX: 1.provides that every 20 years, there shall be submitted to referendum the question, “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” 2.authorizes the Legislature to put the convention question to referendum at other times. 3 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

4 What is the role of the public? The public must vote on: Whether to hold the convention, The election of delegates, and Approval of any amendments to the constitution. 4 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

5 What is the current LWVNYS position? CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION Statement of Position As announced by the State Board, February 1993, revised June 1993 The League of Women Voters of New York State does not support or oppose the holding of a constitutional convention. The League of Women Voters of New York State recognizes that a constitutional convention is an acceptable (legal) method of amending the New York State Constitution and that the provision requiring periodic mandatory submission of the question of calling a convention is a proper procedure. The impetus for a convention between the mandated twenty-year referenda should come from the public. However we feel that certain principles are essential throughout the process: Education and involvement of the public must be an integral part of each phase of the process. Planning should be given adequate time and sufficient funding. Nonpartisanship is essential. 5 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

6 What is the current LWVNYS position? CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION Statement of Position As announced by the State Board, February 1993, revised June 1993 (continued) The League believes that specific conditions should be incorporated in the policies and procedures established for constitutional conventions: Pre-Convention Commission: A preparatory commission should be appointed with adequate time to study the issues, establish the agenda and procedures and prepare position papers for the convention. Such a commission should provide ongoing information to the public and solicit its participation. Convention delegates: A delegate body of workable size should be elected by a fair, nonpartisan process. In accord with League principles, delegates should reflect our society with representation of women, ethnic, racial, socioeconomic minorities. The candidates’ positions on issues and convention goals should be widely publicized to enable voters to cast informed votes at their election. Present office holders should not be eligible to serve as delegates; however, they might be considered as consultants. A constitutional amendment will be necessary to meet some of these criteria. Convention process: Procedures must be put in place to reduce partisanship, by assuring that committees and committee chairmanship are beyond party control. 6 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

7 What is the current LWVNYS position? CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION Statement of Position As announced by the State Board, February 1993, revised June 1993 (continued ) Reasonable time limits must be placed on the length of the convention and its costs. The issues to be considered must be determined in advance by the pre-convention commission and researched by position papers, which are complete and available at the time of the convention. Meetings of the delegates should be open, held at acceptable convenient hours, with full media coverage. Ballot Issues: Widespread public hearings and adequate voter education are necessary prior to the placement of referenda on the ballot. Constitutional amendments recommended by a convention should be submitted to the voters as separate issues. 7 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

8 What part of the position are we discussing today? Just one section: Convention delegates: A delegate body of workable size should be elected by a fair, nonpartisan process. In accord with League principles, delegates should reflect our society with representation of women, ethnic, racial, socioeconomic minorities. The candidates’ positions on issues and convention goals should be widely publicized to enable voters to cast informed votes at their election. Present office holders should not be eligible to serve as delegates; however, they might be considered as consultants. A constitutional amendment will be necessary to meet some of these criteria. 8 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

9 Why are we considering updating it? The purpose of this update is to determine whether there is member agreement on updating the Delegate Selection portion of the League 1993 Constitutional Convention position. To make it more flexible and adaptable for the future (bringing it more in line with most League positions), and To clarify how the board should consider any reforms or lack thereof to the delegate selection process as part of the decision on whether or not to support the proposal for a constitutional convention when it comes up again for a vote in This update is not intended to consider whether or not the League will support or oppose the proposal. The state board will decide that question in light of current policy concerns and the entire League position. 9 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

10 But, why are we considering updating it? The last time the proposal for a constitutional convention was on the statewide ballot was 1997 and it was voted down. The League was one of the main groups opposing the 1997 proposal under the 1993 Constitutional Convention position. The wording of the current position implies that unless all those changes to the delegate selection process were previously enacted in the constitution, the LWVNYS board cannot support a Constitutional Convention. The board minutes and reports indicate changes to the delegate selection process were factors to be considered in the decision whether or not to support a convention, not as necessary to that decision. Additionally, public financing was approved, but left out of the final position. If approved, this update will put the position in clearer language and make the above distinction part of the position. 10 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

11 Why do we want changes to the delegate selection process? The last Constitutional Convention was held in 1967: The 1967 convention was the result of legislative initiative (as opposed to the vote every 20 years) The convention leadership was the legislative leadership The public rejected the constitution it produced at the polls (it was presented as a package) There were: concerns expressed prior to the 1967 vote over the delegate selection process criticism of the 1967 convention process as “closed” 11 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

12 In that case, why would we support a convention without an improved selection process? Reform of the delegate selection process is entirely in the hands of the state Legislature Requiring the Legislature to pass specific delegate selection reforms as a prerequisite to calling for a constitutional convention gives the Legislature a means of blocking the only process by which citizens can directly change the constitution. 12 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area Reform Convention =

13 What concerns does the updated position address? Clarifies that these reforms are a consideration, not a necessary component, in deciding whether or not to support a constitutional convention. Drops the ambiguous “workable size” and revises the representation language. Adds public financing for delegates, as was intended to be in the position according to contemporary materials. 13 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

14 What is the updated position on delegate selection? The League supports the following reforms as positive factors in deciding on support for a constitutional convention. Delegates should be elected by a fair nonpartisan process that complies with federal voting rights provisions and eases ballot access to encourage participation by racial and other minorities. Public financing should be provided for candidates and positions on issues and convention goals should be widely publicized to enable voters to cast informed votes at their election. Statewide office holders, state or federal legislators, and state judges should not serve as delegates. (Position is in a paragraph format; bullets added for clarification) 14 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

15 Consensus Question We support the updated position on convention delegates or We wish to retain the current position 15 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area

16 THANK YOU! 16 Prepared by the League of Women Voters of the Rochester Metropolitan Area


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