Two citizens groups are calling on the New York State Board of Elections to resign over wording of a ballot proposal about casino gambling. One is based in Ulster County, where casino supporters have their hopes set on seeing a casino built.
On Tuesday, New Yorkers will vote on a ballot proposition about whether to allow up to seven resort-style gambling casinos statewide. While the arguments have been expressed both for and against casino gambling, there is also opposition to the wording of Proposition 1 itself. Dr. Stephen Shafer is with the Coalition Against Gambling in New York. His group, along with No Saugerties Casino, has written to the state Board of Elections asking the two co-chairman and two commissioners to resign over the issue, saying that by crafting pro-amendment language, the Board has betrayed the public trust.
What the Board approved was language considered by opponents to be rosy and far from neutral. It reads: “The proposed amendment to the constitution would allow the legislature to authorize up to seven casinos in New York State for the legislated purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated. Shall the amendment be approved?” Again, here’s Shafer.
Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, who supports the proposal and hopes the Nevele Resort, Casino & Spa comes to fruition in his county, believes the wording is fair, and accurately reflects the intent of the amendment.
Requests for comment from the Board of Elections were not returned in time for this broadcast. Shafer says he would have liked to see the following ballot language:
Supporters of allowing casino gambling in upstate New York, including Hein, say opposition to the ballot language comes from those opposed to casino gambling, yet the New York Public Interest Research Group, which has not taken a position on the actual proposal, says the proposal’s language should be neutral and, as is, contains advocacy language.
But a lawsuit challenging the wording was thrown out when a judge said it was filed too late.
Shafer’s letter references a September 30 Siena Research Institute poll, which found that when the ballot proposal is worded as is, support for the amendment increased from 49 percent to 56 percent.