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Constitutional convention rally finds women in support on 100th anniversary of right to vote

The constitutional convention proposition should be approved by

The constitutional convention proposition should be approved by New York voters, state Sen. Liz Krueger argued during a rally on the steps of City Hall on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. Photo Credit: Alison Fox

A couple dozen women on Monday rallied for a proposition that would create a state constitutional convention, the first for New York in decades.

Laura Ladd Bierman, executive director of the League of Women Voters of New York, attended the rally and said opening up the Constitution to change will encourage more women to potentially run for office.

“We are asking the same people, the people in the Legislature right now, to change the laws that make it easier for them to get elected and easier to raise money ... We think no wonder we can’t get this done,” she said. “We think this constitutional convention provides a bypass or another opportunity to try and get those changes made.”

The proposition, nicknamed “Con-Con,” is offered to New York voters once every 20 years. Monday’s rally on the steps of City Hall came on the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote in the state.

The proposition has inspired fierce debate. Groups such as public labor unions have urged their members to vote no, believing that a convention would open up long-held labor protections to potentially adverse changes. The New York Civil Liberties Union also opposes the convention.

“It puts the entire document, everything that is written into our state’s fundamental law up for grabs,” NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman said in a message on the group’s Facebook page. “We would be putting all of our fundamental rights as New Yorkers on the block to be decided by a group of people that is really not a reflection of the people of the state of New York.”

On the other side, supporters argue a convention is the only way to reform dysfunction and the corruption scandals that have plagued Albany.

“It gives the people an actual bite at the apple to draft proposals. Then the people, the people, get a final bite at the apple when they decide whether or not to support or disapprove the recommendations that come out of the convention,” State Sen. Liz Krueger said at the rally. “If you don’t like a permanent government controlled by lobbyists and special interests, that’s what we have now ... the constitutional convention gives us the opportunity for a new set of eyes and voices to give us a 21st century Constitution.”

The referendum was last approved in 1967, but the product of the convention was voted down, according to the New York Public Interest Research Group.

If voters approve the proposition on Tuesday, potential delegates would have a year to campaign. Each of the 63 state Senate districts would select three delegates to represent their interests at the convention during the general election on Nov. 6, 2018. Fifteen statewide delegates would also be voted on.

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