On election day, New York voters will have six ballot measures to decide in addition to local races.
When asked by host Rafael Pi Roman if it’s unusual to have that many ballot measures, New York Times editorial board member Eleanor Randolph responded, “Not really…The real problem here is that New York State has a terrible constitution.” She described it as being overly detailed – a perfect example of which is Proposition 6 to raise the age limit for state supreme court justices.
“They want to raise the age of judges from 70 to 80. Well when that was put in the constitution, people didn’t live until 70, 50 was considered old almost, and so what you have here is a constitution that’s just larded up with detail.”
Randolph said that many of the issues that end up on the ballot – like the land swap in the Adirondacks – should be solved in court, not sent back to the voters for a referendum, and that they become ballot measures because it’s actually easier for politicians in Albany to solve the issues that way.
There is an opportunity every 20 years – a constitutional convention – during which the constitution could be “cleaned up” so that “you don’t have to have a constitutional amendment every time a certain community wants to borrow money for their sewage plant,” she said.
But at least one of the measures – casino expansion – merits statewide attention according to Randolph.
“The problem with that is that there’s a 150-page bill attached to this amendment and most people have not really seen what that is,” she said. Randolph also noted that according to procedure the measure should have been last on the ballot instead of first and that it should have been written in straightforward manner instead of including reasons to support it. “It’s really skewed to get the voters to say yes,” she said.
But will any of this matter in the end? When asked if people will actually vote for or against and of the measures, Randolph pointed out that they’re at the bottom of the ballot in tiny type and said “People get ballot fatigue and I don’t know whether they’ll get there or not.”