New Yorkers reject redistricting and voting ballot measures, approve environmental rights amendment

On November 2, voters in New York passed two constitutional amendments and rejected three.  The approved measures were Proposal 2, an environmental rights amendment, and Proposal 5, a judicial measure. Voters rejected Proposal 1 concerning redistricting processes and Proposal 3 and Proposal 4, which would have allowed for same-day voter registration and no-excuse absentee voting.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Proposal 2 received 68.9% of the vote. Proposal 2 added a right to clean water, clean air, and a healthful environment to the New York Constitution’s Bill of Rights. As of 2021, at least six state constitutions included language on environmental rights, including neighboring Pennsylvania. 

Proposal 5 received 62.9% of the vote. It allowed the New York City Civil Court to hear and decide lawsuits involving claims of $50,000, rather than the current threshold of $25,000. The New York City Civil Court is a trial court with jurisdiction in New York City. The NYC Civil Court’s original jurisdiction was on claims of $10,000 or less. Voters approved a constitutional amendment in 1983 that increased the court’s jurisdiction from $10,000 to $25,000. In 1995, voters rejected a constitutional amendment to increase the NYC Civil Court claims jurisdiction from $25,000 to $50,000.

Proposal 3 and Proposal 4 addressed voting policies and were rejected by 57.7% and 55.8% of voters, respectively, according to results on election night. Proposal 3 would have removed the requirement that persons must register to vote at least ten days before an election, thus authorizing the state legislature to pass a statute for a requirement of fewer than 10 days, such as same-day voter registration. Proposal 4 would have authorized the state legislature to pass a statute for no-excuse absentee voting.

Proposal 1 would have made several changes to redistricting in New York. With 99% of precincts reporting, 55.8% voted “No” on Proposal 1. The constitutional amendment would have changed the vote thresholds for adopting redistricting plans when one political party controls both legislative chambers. It would have also

  1. required that incarcerated persons be counted at the place of their last residence for redistricting;
  2. required the state to count residents, including people who are residents but not citizens, should the federal census fail to do so;
  3. removed the block-on-border requirement for Senate districts;
  4. capped the number of state senators at 63; and
  5. moved up the timeline for redistricting and repealed inoperative language.

Between 1995 and 2020, New York voters addressed 25 constitutional amendments, approving 19 (76%) of them. At the 2021 election, voters approved 2 of 5 amendments or 40%.