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New York Votes on a Question It Faces Every 20 Years: Whether to Rewrite Its Constitution

New Yorkers head to the polls on Tuesday. Allison Joyce—Getty Images

Once every 20 years, New York voters have the chance to decide whether to rewrite the state constitution. Tuesday is that day.

New Yorkers from Manhattan to Rochester will take to the polls to vote yes or no to holding a constitutional convention to redraft the document that was most recently updated in 1938.

The state’s last constitutional convention was held in 1967, when Robert F. Kennedy was New York’s junior senator, but voters eventually rejected the proposed changes.

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A “yes” vote on Tuesday would trigger a two-year-long process: In 2018, voters would select delegates to the constitutional convention—three from each senate district and 15 statewide “at-large” delegates. The convention itself would take place in April 2019, when delegates would propose amendments and agree on which ones to put before voters.

The debate over whether to support a convention has divided groups that are otherwise allies, like the League of Women Voters of New York and Planned Parenthood. The former sees the convention as an opportunity to celebrate the 100th anniversary of women’s suffrage in New York with a strong message to the capital while the latter warns that the process is “complicated, expensive, and potentially dangerous.” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has put his thumb on the scale for the “no” side, stating publicly that he will vote against the measure after initially indicating support of it.

The latest polls show overwhelming opposition to the constitutional convention, and according to the FiveThirtyEight Politics Podcast turnout is expected to be low.

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