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NY State Constitution

Current Constitution

New York's constitution consists of a preamble and 20 articles. It was last amended on January 1, 2018.


We The People of the State of New York, grateful to Almighty God for our Freedom, in order to secure its blessings, DO ESTABLISH THIS CONSTITUTION.

Article I: Bill of Rights

Article I establishes the rights and personal freedoms of the people, as well as the responsibilities and limitations of the government. Many of the provisions in this article are similar to those in the Constitution of the United States. Some provisions included are freedom of speech, a trial by jury, freedom of worship, habeas corpus, and security against unreasonable search and seizures.

Article II: Suffrage

Article II describes the rights and requirements involved in voting. All citizens over eighteen are allowed to vote if they have been a resident at least 30 days before the date of an election. Any form of bribery or compensation to compel the giving or withholding of a vote is not allowed. The article also establishes the general operation of absentee ballots, voter registration, and elections.

Article III: Legislature

Article III establishes the powers and limitations of the bicameral New York State Legislature, which consists of a Senate containing 50 members initially, and an Assembly containing 150 members. Except for Senators elected in 1895 who served three-year terms, every legislative member is elected to two-year terms. The current number of Senators is set by State Law §123, and the number of Senate districts is set at 63 by State Law §124; currently, there are 63 Senate seats. The legislative process, such as the passage of bills, is also described in this article.

The article includes rules and processes for drawing legislative districts and making apportionments. The United States Census is used to determine the number of inhabitants; if it is not carried out or fails to provide this information, then the state Legislature has the power to enumerate its inhabitants. Whenever districts must be amended, an "independent redistricting commission" composed of ten members (two appointed by the temporary president of the Senate, two appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly, two appointed by the Senate Minority Leader, two appointed by the Assembly Minority Leader, and two appointed by the eight other appointed members) is created. Drawing of district lines must not violate racial or language minority voting rights. Each district must contain "as nearly as may be an equal number of inhabitants"; if it does not the commission must provide a reason. Additionally, districts must consist of a contiguous territory and be "as compact in form as practicable".

Emergency powers are described in Section 25. The legislature is granted the power to enact measures allowing the continuity of government, and "provide for prompt and temporary succession" of public offices if they were to become unavailable in the event of an emergency caused by "enemy attack or by disasters (natural or otherwise)". The final paragraph states: "Nothing in this article shall be construed to limit in any way the power of the state to deal with emergencies arising from any cause".

Article IV: Executive

Article IV states that executive branch powers are vested in the governor and lieutenant governor, who are elected jointly to serve four-year terms. The governor can veto legislative bills, is the commander-in-chief of the state's military, can convene the legislature "on extraordinary occasions", and has the power to grant pardons for all offenses except treason and impeachment. The order of succession has the lieutenant governor first in line, and then the temporary president of the Senate.

Article V: Officers and Civil Departments

Article V describes the roles of the comptroller and attorney-general as well as the operation of the civil departments, of which there can be at most 20.

Article VI: Judiciary

Article VI describes the judicial branch, including the court systems, the operation of trials, and the conditions for appointing and removing judges and justices. It contains 37 sections, more than any other article.

Article VII: State Finances

Article VIII: Local Finances

Article IX: Local Governments

Article X: Corporations

Article XI: Education

Article XII: Defense

Article XIII: Public Officers

Article XIV: Conservation

Article XV: Canals

Article XVI: Taxation

Article XVII: Social Welfare

Article XVIII: Housing

Article XIX: Amendments to Constitution

Article XX: When to Take Effect

Article XX describes the day that the constitution will take effect, which is January 1, 1939.[3]


NY State Constitution

Admitted: June 1, 1796
Population: 77,262
Prior time as territory: 6 years
Journey to statehood: Took place without congressionally approved "enabling act," and in so doing blazed a trail for six future states that would similarly barge into the Union without first being invited. Tennessee's first two "senators" were denied entry to Congress, but the territory later lobbied successfully for admission. Its first officially recognized congressman, Andrew Jackson, was elected in August 1796.


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