Press Releases

City Bar Recommends Changes in Procedures for Selecting Delegates to Potential New York State Constitutional Convention

Method Should Not be “Determining Factor” in Deciding Whether Convention Should be Held 

The New York City Bar Association, led by its Task Force on the New York State Constitutional Convention, has issued a Report on Delegate Selection Procedures.

In November 2017, New York State voters will be asked whether the state should convene a constitutional convention to amend the state constitution. This question is placed on the ballot every 20 years. Should voters approve calling a convention next year, delegates to the convention would be elected in 2018.

The Task Force’s report examines the procedures currently in place for selecting delegates to the convention and makes certain recommendations for statutory change, with an eye toward making the process more open, less subject to the control of political leaders and more likely to result in a convention reflective of the will of the State’s population.

“Although the Task Force thinks these changes would improve the process,” said Margaret Dale, co-chair of the Task Force along with Hon. Michael Sonberg, “we do not believe that whether or not such changes are implemented should be a determining factor when deciding if a convention should be held.”

The Task Force recommends that:

  • Judges, legislators and other state and local government officials should have the opportunity to run for constitutional convention delegate.
  • Though the Task Force has concerns about whether government officials elected as delegates should be able to accept the delegate salary in addition to the salaries they earn from their government position, current constitutional provisions lead to the conclusion that all public officials should be entitled to collect delegate salaries in addition to their other salaries, as has been done at past conventions.
  • Service as a constitutional convention delegate should not count as credited time under any public pension system.
  • Voters should be able to cast votes for up to three candidates in the election of district delegates.
  • There should be no slate voting for the 15 at-large delegates; the names of the candidates for delegate should appear on the ballot. Voters should be able to cast votes for up to 15 of the at-large candidates, with no more than one vote cast for a particular candidate.
  • Petition signature requirements should be reduced for candidates for convention delegates; the requirement that at-large candidates collect at least 100 signatures from half of the congressional districts in the state should be eliminated. Petitioning requirements should be further eased.
  • There should not be a shift to nonpartisan elections for convention delegates.
  • While ideally there should be a system for public financing of all state elections, including the election of convention delegates, and such a system has been proposed by the Governor, if there is no state public financing system ultimately put in place, the Task Force believes that the difficulty of setting up a public campaign financing system solely for the delegate election is so great that we cannot recommend such a one-time program be created.
  • If the voters choose to hold a constitutional convention, there should be a voter guide printed for the delegate selection election of 2018, and a voter guide also should be prepared for the ballot questions that are submitted to the voters by the constitutional convention.

The report can be read here:

Read more about the Task Force here: