J.H. Snider's Blog

Rockefeller Institute Launches Major Multi-Year Program to Educate Public on Upcoming Constitutional Convention Referendum

by | Jan 19, 2016

The Albany-based Rockefeller Institute has launched a major multi-year program, including a website, TV documentary, public history program, polling effort, and series of think tank discussions, to educate the public about New York’s Nov. 7, 2017 statewide constitutional convention referendum.

This is a huge development. No other state with a periodic constitutional convention referendum has done anything like it in recent decades.

This can partly be attributed to New York’s extraordinary resources. Of the fourteen states with the periodic constitutional convention referendum, New York is the biggest, and its public policy and public history infrastructure is unrivalled.

But even in New York, no think tank or other nonprofit has ever before undertaken such a wide-ranging constitutional convention education effort, especially one focused on educating the general public.

One can only hope that the Rockefeller Institute’s education program will become a model for nonprofits in other states with upcoming constitutional convention referendums. Meanwhile, New York is very lucky to have such an educational resource.

If New York can get beyond soundbite-sized campaigns for and against calling a convention—a goal that might seem implausible in today’s media environment—it will be a great triumph.

Disclosure: Three of the team members working on the Rockefeller Institute’s constitutional convention project, Gerald Benjamin, Peter Galie, and Christopher Bopst, are iSolon.org board members. iSolon.org is the parent organization of The State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse, which includes The New York State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse.