News or Noise: Post says state votes for you if voters don't mark choice on convention

September 27, 2017 11:56 PM

New Yorkers have the opportunity to vote on a constitutional convention this November.

Every twenty years, New Yorkers are given the option to hold a convention -- where appointed delegates can propose changes to the state constitution.


However, you've likely seen posts on Facebook claiming that if you don't vote either "yes" or "no" then the state votes for you. But is this claim news or noise?

A post reads: "How sneaky and underhanded is this ... to put a vote on the BACK OF A BALLOT and if you do not mark it, it counts as a YES."

It's true; the referendum for a possible constitutional convention will appear on the back of the ballot along with two other statewide propositions. But that's not sneaky or underhanded considering all referendums have been on the back of the ballot since 2006 – when the state switched to paper ballots.

As to how blank votes are counted -- it's clearly outlined in New York State Election Law.

On page 334 the law says "if for any reason it is impossible to determine the voter's choice of a candidate or candidates for an office or party position or his or her vote upon a ballot proposal, his or her vote shall not be counted ... but shall be returned as a blank vote." 

That means, unless you clearly mark "yes" or "no" on the referendum – your vote for that particular question will not be counted. 

So when you see your friends share this post on social media – make sure to tell them – it's all noise.


Jennifer Mobilia

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