Constitutional convention and New York’s 2017 ballot proposal results

New York Public Library

Constitutional convention and New York’s 2017 ballot proposal results

New York’s 2017 ballot proposal results
November 7, 2017

There were three proposals on the ballot this year, and the one that drew the most scrutiny – whether or not to hold a convention to amend the state constitution – was defeated decisively.

On the other questions, New Yorkers supported harsher penalties for corrupt lawmakers and an easier path for infrastructure in certain upstate towns. Here’s a look at what was decided.


“Shall there be a convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?”

No: 76.68%
Yes: 16.25%

(at 11:56 p.m. with 12,505 of 15,502 election districts reporting)

It was a crushing defeat for proponents of a state constitutional convention. Right out of the gate, early returns showed that a lopsided result was in store. The outcome was a resounding victory for New Yorkers Against Corruption, the lobbying alliance that marshaled a war chest of $1.6 million and poured money into the effort to convince voters that a convention was not in their best interests.

Voters will not have another opportunity to amend the constitution for 20 years, in 2037. The campaigns surrounding the proposal were described as “hope versus fear.” In one of the biggest decisions on Election Day, voters decided whether to open up the document to revisions and updates, if not a complete overhaul. While there were strident voices that were pro and con con con, those hopeful that new rights and privileges would be enshrined in the legal bedrock of the state voted yes and those who feared that hard-won rights and privileges could be lost – particularly labor unions – voted no.

New Yorkers have voted on the issue 12 times in the history of the state, and seven of those times voters cast their ballots in favor of a convention, and four times those conventions resulted in a new constitution. Not this time around.

RELATED: The pros and cons of a constitutional convention


"Allow a court to revoke the pension of a public official convicted of a felony?"

Yes: 64.02%
No: 27.14%

(at 11:56 p.m. with 12,505 of 15,502 election districts reporting)

Voters made a decisive choice to allow a court to reduce or revoke the public pension of a public officer who is convicted of a felony, as long as that crime has a direct relationship to their official duties.

Against the backdrop of Norman Seabrook’s ongoing corruption trial – with Jona Rechnitz’s pay-to-play allegations against New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio still reverberating – and the overturned corruption convictions of Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos fresh in voters’ minds, the electorate chose to give judges the power to strip public officers of their pensions if they engage in criminal activity related to their official duties.

The voting public decided that the era of public officials being convicted of felonies, going to jail, and then having the state subsidize their retirement is over.


Yes: 45.59%
No: 42.93 %

(at 11:56 p.m. with 12,505 of 15,502 election districts reporting)

By a slim margin, voters decided to allow upstate towns to cut into neighboring forest preserves in order to repair infrastructure and make improvements. Some reports showed that New York City voters were tipping the scale against the proposal, and the final vote will likely be within a few percentage points.

The proposal will give towns, villages and counties use of up to 250 acres of forest preserve land to more easily make repairs to roads and bridges as well as add bike lanes or power lines if they have no other options “to address specific public health and safety concerns.” Another 250 acres of land will then be claimed as forest preserve to make up for the land used.

Frank Runyeon
Frank G. Runyeon
is a freelance investigative reporter in New York City.