Fifty progressive and community organizations in New York on Wednesday are set to release a letter urging voters to approve a trio of constitutional amendments to be put to a referendum this November.
The amendments backed by the groups, if approved, would make changes to the state's upcoming redistricting process, key for foundational political power in Albany and Washington, as well as allow for same-day registration for voting on Election Day and create no-fault absentee voting in New York.
“These three ballot questions offer critical reforms to increase voter access and improve democracy in New York,” said Theo Oshiro, the co-executive Director of Make the Road New York. “A ‘yes’ vote on each of these questions is a vote for ensuring that immigrant, Black, brown and working-class community members’ voices will be heard at the polls and in the redistricting process.”
The groups expect to engage "hundreds of thousands of voters" leading up to the November 2 vote in an off-cycle election year when turnout is usually down compared to presidential election years.
The redistricting amendment, among provisions like counting incarcerated people in the district they last lived in and capping the number of state senators at 63 members, would also overhaul the approval process for the new maps.
The provision would reduce the threshold for approval of new legislative boundaries when one party — currently the Democrats — controls the two chambers of the state Legislature from a two-thirds vote to a simple majority.
The move partially reverses a 2014 amendment to the constitution meant to add more independence to the process and place limits on the party in power when it holds majorities in the state Senate and Assembly.
Creating no-fault absentee balloting in New York would carry over what had been a temporary provision during the COVID-19 pandemic as state officials allowed virtually any voter to request an absentee ballot rather than cast a vote in person.
New York currently only allows for a narrow set of reasons for why a voter would cast a ballot through the absentee process.
Same-day registration has long been part of a push by good-government organizations and progressive groups in the state in order to boost participation in elections.
“We urge New Yorkers to vote Yes this November to expand voting rights and ensure a fairer redistricting process,” said Melody Lopez, Executive Director of the New York Civic Engagement Table. “This package of reforms will increase voter participation and representation of communities across New York.”