A new poll finds that the ballot question on whether to hold a constitutional convention in New York has become widely unpopular with voters.
The Siena College poll finds likely voters in the Nov. 7 elections are leaning against Proposition One “by a better than two-to-one margin,” said Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg.
The numbers are a change from earlier in the year, when a poll showed the majority of voters said they were in favor of holding a constitutional convention, despite the fact that they had not heard much about it.
And the negativity about the proposed convention is widespread. Fifty-six percent of voters who identify as liberals and 60 percent of New Yorkers who say they are conservative are against the idea.
Sixty percent agreed with the statement that the event would be a “waste of time and money.”
One difference in the months since the first polls on the topic — $1.5 million has been spent by a broad coalition that is against holding the convention. It includes unions, the state’s Conservative Party and groups on both sides of the abortion debate. All say they fear a revision of the constitution could be harmful to their interests.
They’ve purchased TV ads portraying the convention as potentially corrupt and controlled by lawmakers who already hold power.
Greenberg said the anti-convention campaign has had an impact. Voters say they haven’t heard much in support of the event.
“Campaigns take place,” Greenberg said. “And campaigns educate voters.”
Supporters of the constitutional convention, including Randy Mastro of the reform group Citizens Union, said he has faith in New Yorkers’ ability to take back their government by holding a convention, and he predicted that there will be yes votes on Election Day.
“We have a chance to take our state back, to bring good government to New York, and this constitutional convention is our chance,” Mastro said. “And they’re going to grab it.”
The likely voters who were polled do support the second proposal on the ballot by an overwhelming margin. It would allow a judge to revoke the pensions of some public officials convicted of felonies.
But Greenberg said they are mostly confused by the third ballot question, concerning land use in the Adirondack and Catskill parks. It would create a land bank of 250 acres and allow withdrawals of small amounts of land to fix bridges and lay cable lines for internet access.
“Right now, voters are sort of divided,” said Greenberg, who added the poll finds 46 percent support the proposal, and 35 percent say they are against it, with 18 percent undecided.
Voter turnout is once again expected to be light, so those opposed to the convention might be more motivated to come out to the polls. They could swing the vote against the convention.