I heard a discussion of a possible NYS constitutional convention on Sunday, Oct. 18, on The Capitol Connection on WSKG radio. Two political scientists, host Dr. Alan Chartock and guest Dr. Gerald Benjamin, debated the question of a constitutional convention. Dr. Benjamin explained that a constitutional convention is the only avenue in NYS law to badly needed government reform and therefore the opportunity should be seized however imperfect. Dr. Chartock noted that as current legislators in Albany would be expected to dominate the convention under current law, any hope for improvement is negligible. You can listen to the discussion at the link below.
The NYS League of Women voters has long opposed a constitutional convention unless reforms in delegate selection are enacted. More recently, perhaps agreeing with Dr. Benjamin that the legislature is unlikely to agree to reforms limiting the influence of State Officials on delegate selection, the NYS League has softened its position. The League’s proposed position statement reads:
The League supports the following reforms as positive factors in deciding on support for a constitutional convention. Delegates should be elected by a fair nonpartisan process that complies with federal voting rights provisions and eases ballot access to encourage participation by racial and other minorities. Public financing should be provided for candidates and their positions on issues and convention goals should be widely publicized to enable voters to cast informed votes at their election. Statewide office holders, state or federal legislators, and state judges should not serve as delegates. (emphasis added) (I haven’t determined if this statement was formally adopted.)
What the League calls “positive factors” are not currently in place.
The question of a convention will appear on the ballot in 2017. What do readers think? Is a constitutional convention a good idea under current law or must we continue with our flawed state government indefinitely?