Ballot proposals can be confusing to even the most informed voter. Often this is intentional – political insiders prefer it that way. Many NY voters cast their ballot without ever seeing the Proposals, because you have to physically turn over your ballot to see the proposals on the back side of the page. Below is my take on the NY State ballot proposals this Tuesday, November 4th. I hope you find them helpful.
VOTE NO ON PROPOSAL ONE (Phony Redistricting “Reform”) – This is Exhibit A of an intentionally misleading proposal. It sounds like an anti-gerrymandering law. In fact, it enshrines partisan gerrymandering into the NYS Constitution, I strongly support real redistricting reform, this is not it.
Rather than an independent panel, Prop 1 sets up a commission of partisan appointees – and will undoubtedly result in grossly undemocratic districts for years to come. In fact, a court barred advocates from including the word “independent” in the proposal.
Gerrymandering is a serious threat to American democracy – right after the corrupting influence of big money. For New York, it’s long been a bipartisan scam. In a 50-year backroom deal, Republicans draw the State Senate to keep their majority and Democrats draw the Assembly to prevent primary challenges from progressive reformers. The Senate map is particularly egregious. Statewide and locally, communities were spliced – weakening their representation. Bizarre almost non-contiguous districts snake along highways, bridges and rivers to protect or weaken certain politicians and communities. Districts that are drawn to be uncompetitive guarantee legislators who are unresponsive to anyone but big money and party machines.
This process desperately needs reform. Unfortunately, Prop 1 is not it. Virtually every newspaper in NYS opposes Prop 1, including the New York Times, the Albany Times-Union, Newsday and others. So do most “Good Government” groups like Common Cause and the NYCLU.
The good news is, we’ve got 7 or 8 years to get this right next time. And I believe it can be done. But not if we entrench this sham into our constitution. On Tuesday, please VOTE NO ON PROP 1.
In addition to Prop 1, you’ll find two other proposals when you turn over your ballot to vote. They are less existential, but matter nonetheless. Here’s my take:
Vote Yes on Proposal Two (Electronic Distribution of Legislative Bills) – This would allow the legislature to distribute proposed legislation as a PDF instead of on paper. Not a huge deal, but will save some time, trees and money.
Vote NO on Proposal Three (“Smart” Schools Bond Act) – This would borrow $2 Billion for technology in schools. While I support technology in schools, this proposal does not specify if the money is for public, private or parochial schools. Furthermore, it is a 30-year taxpayer debt obligation for equipment that will be obsolete in a few years. For two of those years, it will bring the state dangerously close to our debt limit. The legislature should properly fund NY public schools, and not to privatize them or rely on long-term debt for short-term operating costs.
Polls are open from 6AM-9PM this Tuesday, November 4th. You can find your poll site at https://www.votinginfoproject.org/projects/vip-voting-information-tool/. And don’t forget – the proposals are on the back side of the ballot.