A “green amendment” added to the state constitution

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ALBANY – Voters in the state have broadly endorsed a constitutional amendment guaranteeing New Yorkers the right to “clean air, water and a healthy environment,” but appear to have rejected changes to the process. redistribution and two amendments expanding voter access.

The first change, known as the “Green Amendment,” was approved by a greater majority than any of the other four changes under consideration, 61% to 26%, according to preliminary statements just after 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night, when more than three-quarters of the votes were reported by the state’s Council for Elections.

Although it mirrors legislation passed by Pennsylvania and a handful of other states, its roots in New York City lie in the Capital Region: in the aftermath of the toxic contamination crisis in Hoosick Falls, residents and state advocacy groups demanded a constitutional right to safe drinking water.

The constitutional amendment was supported by environmentalists, Democrats, many unions and even a handful of Republicans. The state Republican Party and a number of business groups opposed it, who warned it would lead to unnecessary regulation and costly litigation. Agricultural interests claimed that this could conflict with the right to cultivate.

Supporters of the change, however, argued that it would still be framed by law and judged by the courts in balance with other constitutionally guaranteed rights.

The green amendment could work more particularly at the local level: certain zoning and development decisions could be the subject of proceedings which would give the courts the opportunity to define the scope of the amendment.

Feedback was much less favorable for three election-related amendments pushed hard by Democrats and equally vigorously opposed by Republicans.

Voters rejected a voting question that would have brought a host of changes to the state’s redistribution process; it lost 39 percent to 47 percent. This would have reduced the influence of political parties over the process by a decade and sped up the time frame within which the Independent State Redistribution Commission must submit its legislative and congressional maps to the state legislature for approval. or rejection before June. primary.

The redistribution amendment would also have set the number of state senators at 63; include non-citizens and Native Americans on political maps of the state, whether or not the federal census counts them; and counted those incarcerated in their last place of residence, not where they were held.

The change met with opposition from the state’s Republican Party and the Non-Partisan League of New York Voters, who felt it downplayed the role of minority parties. Supporters, including Common Cause New York, have said they believe this will make the process less partisan overall.

The redistribution process is currently underway, but in the grip of a considerable impasse. Another round of future adjustments or a complete overhaul of the process could be proposed before the 2030 census.

Voters also rejected two proposals that will remove barriers to voting, even if the margins were narrow.

A change would have allowed same-day voter registration in New York City by removing the requirement to register at least 10 days before an election. He was losing 39 to 50 percent.

Another rejected change would have paved the way for absentee voting without excuse, which is similar to what the state temporarily adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic. He lost 39% to 48% in the first comebacks. Turnout has generally increased in states, like New York, which have expanded postal voting practices to reduce transmission of the coronavirus.

Some Republicans have warned that these changes would increase the risk of voter fraud.

A fifth constitutional change has been approved, expanding the adjudicative powers of the civil courts in New York City.


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