Guest Opinion: On Tuesday, turn over your ballots. Our democracy depends on it

Assembly Republican Leader Will Barclay. Photo courtesy of the New York State Assembly.

Guest column from Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay

Voters across New York state will be heading to the polls to make critical decisions regarding which candidates will represent them in the coming term. This year, it is especially important residents get out and vote as elections featuring local candidates, typically, have a lower turnout than in statewide election years.

This year, there are also referendum propositions on the back of the ballot for consideration. Five extremely important measures will be presented for consideration. Perhaps the most concerning include changing the voter-approved redistricting process, eliminating the 10-day-advance voter registration requirement and authorizing no-excuse absentee ballot voting.

A brief breakdown of each of the proposals on the back of this year’s ballot:

  • Prop. 1: Amends the Apportionment and Redistricting Process – initially approved by New Yorkers in 2014 by a 58-42 margin, voters are being asked to throw out the existing rules before the legislative- and voter-approved process was even implemented.
  • Prop. 2: Right to Clean Air, Clean Water, and a Healthful Environment – sounds innocuous, but opens the door to widespread litigation in the future and fails to establish a baseline standard for what’s “clean” or “healthy.”
  • Prop. 3: Eliminates Ten-Day-Advance Voter Registration Requirement – could create a logistical nightmare for poll workers trying to verify residency and eligibility, thereby subject to voter fraud and implementation obstacles.
  • Prop. 4: Authorizes No-Excuse Absentee Ballot Voting – One in five mail-in ballots were disqualified in the 2020 New York City primary. Yet once again, expanding the absentee option potentially overburdens boards of elections and opens the door to fraud by increasing the opportunity for deceitful “ballot harvesting.”
  • Prop. 5: Increases the Jurisdiction of the New York City Civil Court – would allow the court to hear and decide claims for up to $50,000.

Voting for the people and laws that govern our communities, our state and our nation is a tremendous privilege. Through this process, each voter has a chance to impact a wide range of policies that affect our day-to-day lives. The opportunity to vote up or down on specific laws is a rarity, and those chances should not be ignored or taken for granted.

If you have any questions about voting guidelines or how ballot propositions work, be sure to speak with a representative from the Board of Elections, or consult with another official government-sanctioned resource. More detailed information about each of the five propositions can be found on the state’s election website.

I am hopeful all eligible New Yorkers make their way to the polls and make their voices heard. And when you vote, please remember to turn over your ballot and sound off on these critical propositions – our democracy depends on it.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office. My office can be reached by mail at 19 Canalview Mall, Fulton, NY 13069 and by email at You may also find me, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay, on Facebook or on Twitter at @WillABarclay.

Will Barclay, a state legislator elected to the state Assembly in 2002, is the leader of the Assembly Minority Conference. He represents the 120th Assembly District, and lives in Pulaski, Oswego County.