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  • Improving the New York State Constitution: A Practical Solution for Choosing a New Attorney General and Comptroller During a Vacancy

    In the state of New York, the offices of the comptroller and attorney general are powerful positions, independently elected by the people. However, there is a major flaw in the state constitution pertaining to vacancies in both offices. This flaw, as demonstrated by recent vacancy appointments, often gives rise to political appointees who may not be the best person for the position. In March 2010, three out of six of the statewide officeholders (U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch, and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli) were appointed to their position because of vacancies.1 A New York Times editorial remarked that the process for filling statewide vacancies is “highly undemocratic” because it contains “[n]o election, no public participation, just a predetermined vote by a heavily politicked Legislature.” This paper explores the history of filling vacancies for the comptroller and attorney general, analyzes the current state law provisions, and proposes a policy solution to change the state constitution.