PRESS RELEASE

June 27th, 2017

Albany, NY—As an overwhelming majority of New Yorkers are fed up with the mess in Albany that has prevented needed change in how our democracy is practiced and how our state government meets the needs of its citizens, a number of civic groups today launched a coordinated campaign to support a constitutional convention to deliver the change New Yorkers demand. The campaign will remind New Yorkers why the status quo of our political system has failed to meet a wide range of needs of 21stcenturyNew Yorkers. The groups will urge New Yorkers to vote “Yes” this November to hold a constitutional convention, which gives voters a real voice in reforming our government.  The coordinated campaign currently includes Citizens Union; the Committee for a Constitutional Convention, Forward March NY, New Kings Democrats and NY People’s Convention but will grow in numbers in the weeks ahead. READ FULL RELEASE

August 11th, 2o17

KAYLA BREEN/STAFF PHOTOEvan Davis, chairman of the Committee for a Convention, discusses the process for holding a statewide convention during a recent interview with the Press-Republican Editorial Board.

SUIT FILED AGAINST NYS BOARD OF ELECTIONS TO PUT CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION ON FRONT OF BALLOT IN NOVEMBER

New York, NYAugust 11, 2017 – Evan A. Davis, former Counsel to Governor Mario Cuomo, has sued the New York State Board of Elections to obtain a court order requiring that the Constitutional Convention Question be placed on the front rather than the back of the ballot in November. The State Constitution requires that the Convention Question – whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention – be submitted to voters every 20 years, as a means for the public to make reforms in Albany that the Legislature has not otherwise made.

In response to the suit, filed yesterday, Acting Justice Denise A. Hartman scheduled a hearing for next Thursday, August 17, at 10:00 am.

Davis’s suit contends that the constitutional mandate to submit the Convention Question to the voters carries with it the obligation to do so in an effective way. Placing the Convention Question on the back of the ballot is not effective, because it will not be seen by voters who fail to turn over the ballot. Also, such placement is not effective because it suggests that the constitutionally mandated Convention Question is of lesser importance than the local races that will appear on the front of the ballot.

Davis also contends that while the Constitution expressly gives the Legislature discretion as to the manner of submitting constitutional amendments proposed by the Legislature, no such discretion exists with respect to the constitutionally mandated Convention Question, which the framers of Article 19 recognize might need to be considered by the voters over the opposition of the Legislature. He urges that because the Constitutional Convention Question is only 13 words it can easily be accommodated on the front of the ballot.

“This once-in-a-generation chance to reform State government is too important not to be on the front of the ballot,” said Evan Davis. “The public won’t have another chance until 2037.”

Prior to 2010, voting at the polls in New York was by voting machine. Since then, paper ballots have been used. Since the last time that the Convention Question was put to the voters was in 1997, there is no precedent for whether the Convention Question should appear on the front or back of the paper ballot distributed at the polls.

Davis has since May of this year been urging the State Board to place the Convention Question on the front of the ballot. On August 4, he was informed by the Board’s Counsel that the Convention Question would appear on the back of the ballot at the general election on November 7.

Davis is the Manager of the Committee for a Constitutional Convention, which is comprised of civic leaders from across the State who are advocating for a YES vote this November on the Convention Question. The Committee believes that a Convention is needed because reforms in such areas as corruption, fair and competitive elections, home rule and court reform have repeatedly been rebuffed by the Legislature for self-protective reasons, and that these reforms cannot be achieved through the normal amendment process, which the Legislature controls.

The Constitution specifies the wording of the Convention Question: “Shall a convention be called to revise the constitution and amend the same?” If a majority of the voters voting on the question vote yes, Convention Delegates will be elected in November 2018 and the Convention will convene in April 2019. Any proposal for constitutional change adopted by majority of Delegates must be approved by the voters before it becomes part of the Constitution.

Davis served as Counsel to Governor Mario M. Cuomo from 1985 to 1990 and as President of the New York City Bar Association from 2000 to 2002.

For more information or to speak with Evan Davis, contact Henry Miller at 917-921-8034 or henrymiller412@gmail.com.

August 14,2017

Readers sound off on the constitutional convention

Periodic review of our constitution was prioritized by the founders of the state of New York, because as years pass, society changes, and we have a responsibility to ensure governance reflects the governed. READ MORE

August 18,2017

Connections: Is this the year New York State holds a constitutional convention, part one

This fall could be the first time since 1967 that a constitutional convention will be held in New York State. New York voters have an opportunity to hold a convention every 20 years. It gives New Yorkers a chance to reexamine how our state works, and to make improvements and changes to the state constitution. READ MORE

August 18,2017

Fight to change state constitution comes to Bronx

The last time a convention actually took place, Lyndon B. Johnson was in the White House and the Green Bay Packers had just won the first Super Bowl. You have to go back even further to the last time the state constitution was actually changed was in 1938 — three years before the United States entered World War II. READ MORE

September 8,2017

New York Has a Chance to End Political Corruption Once and For All

In the state with the worst political corruption and the most economic inequality in the country, it would seem like a no-brainer that the voters would vote “yes” on holding a constitutional convention. READ MORE

September 11,2017

A Guide to New York City’s Municipal Primary Elections for the Barely Informed Voter

In November, New York voters will decide whether or not to hold a state constitutional convention. Such a convention might be captured by monied interests or abused by entrenched incumbents—but it also could be our best chance in a generation to fundamentally reform the way this state elects politicians, if enough people are willing to fight to make that happen. READ MORE

September 15,2017

NY constitutional convention is the only way to clean up Albany (Commentary)

Albany has been home to far too many opportunists, posing as lawmakers, willing to trade official action for personal benefits, and in spite of many good people serving as effective and responsible lawmakers. READ MORE

September 16,2017

Fearlessly seize the chance to launch a state constitutional convention

And tune out the fearmongering by lobbying groups determined to protect Albany’s ugly status quo. When one examines the facts, instead of caving to panic, it’s clear that there’s nothing to be afraid of — and much to gain — by voting yes on Nov. 7. READ MORE

September 20,2017

The non-profit group Generation Citizen is releasing new lesson plans on the constitutional convention. The lessons are geared toward eighth-through-12th grade students, most of whom will not be voting on the ballot measure this November. But voting is just one aspect of the democratic process, said DeNora Getachew, Generation Citizen’s New York executive director. READ MORE

September 29,2017

Constitutional Convention can put the people in charge: Editorial

We’ll stand for putting faith in a process that emphasizes the people’s choice, as we remind New Yorkers that this opportunity needs all our close attention, this year and throughout the process. READ MORE

October 5, 2017

Vote ‘YES’ for constitutional convention

I believe a substantial majority of voters would welcome term limits. A constitutional convention is the only avenue available to even consider that option. Our voting system needs to be modernized to include early voting and online registration. Voting districts need to be set by an impartial body, not the sitting legislators who draw convoluted districts to ensure their return to Albany. READ MORE

October 6, 2017

Why has the “No” vote for New York’s constitutional convention adopted Steve Bannon’s playbook?

If you vote “No”, you vote “Yes” to our sole reliance on the Governor to circumvent the stalled legislative process that forces him to achieve important policy wins as amendments to the budget — at least for as long as he remains Governor. You vote “Yes” to legislative paralysis caused by cynical alliances like the IDC who ignore the will of the voters who elected them. You vote “Yes” to an imbalance of power where the legislature controls voters, more than voters control the legislature. READ MORE

October 9, 2017

Onetime Albany insiders give to constitutional convention campaign

Former top judges, onetime aides to the late Gov. Mario Cuomo and a couple of former senators are among the donors to a committee pushing for a yes vote on a referendum to hold the first constitutional convention in 50 years. READ MORE