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Voting in Cato on election day.

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen

By an overwhelming margin, New York voters rejected a proposed constitutional convention Tuesday. 

With 83 percent of precincts reporting, more than three-quarters of voters — 76.66 percent — opposed the convention. Only 16.25 percent voted "yes." 

The campaign against the convention was led by labor unions and special interest groups. The well-funded coalition cited several reasons for opposing a convention ranging from the possibility of public employee pensions being reduced or eliminated to how delegates would be selected. 

Mario Cilento, president of the New York State AFL-CIO, called the defeat of the constitutional convention proposal a "tremendous victory" for unions. He attributed the success of the campaign to educating the public on their concerns about the convention question.

"This is a defining moment for the labor movement as it demonstrates what can be accomplished when we all work together, from the public sector, private sector and building trades unions, to the Central Labor Councils and Area Labor Federations," he said. 

Polls in recent years and in early 2017 indicated strong support for a constitutional convention. But the sentiment changed as labor groups and other stakeholders mounted a campaign against the proposal. 

The effort included "vote no" yard signs urging New Yorkers to reject the constitutional convention. The good government groups and reform advocates supporting the proposal couldn't match the campaign's reach. 

Bill Samuels, founder of the NY People's Convention and a leading advocate for the ballot proposition, expressed disappointment with the vote. 

"The defeat of the constitutional convention is a triumph for all of the enemies of reform in Albany: Andrew Cuomo, the political bosses in the state Legislature, and the lobbyists and special interests who thrive in New York's pay for play culture of corruption," Samuels said. 

The constitutional convention question appears on the statewide ballot every 20 years. In 1997, the proposal was rejected by a 37 to 22 percent margin. A plurality of voters — 40 percent — left it blank. 

The last convention was held in 1967. 

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