The Constitutional Convention Question
What is a State Constitutional Convention?
It’s when a group of elected individuals gather to write the governing document for a state. Alaska’s first constitutional convention was in 1955-56. The document was written by 55 delegates and was adopted after a vote by the general public. Though Alaska’s Constitution has been amended 28 times since it was originally written, there has not been another constitutional convention.
Why does that matter now?
Every 10 years, the state’s constitution mandates that Alaskans are asked whether or not they want to host another constitutional convention. The question “Shall there be a Constitutional Convention?” is on the ballot this November.
What happens if a majority of people vote in favor of holding another convention?
Then there will be another convention during which elected delegates will meet and vote on potential changes to the constitution. This could include everything from small amendments to a complete overhaul of the document.
After the delegates vote on the changes, the new constitution must be approved by voters in Alaska. It’s possible for the majority of people to vote against the proposed changes. If that happens, the constitution will remain unchanged.
What would the timeline for the convention be?
Much of the exact timeline is still unclear. It depends on the actions of the Legislature and potential legal challenges to the constitutional convention process. People will likely get to vote on delegates during the next statewide general election in 2024. The entire process will take years.
How much would a convention cost?
That is also unclear. It would depend on the timeline, the space, how much delegates would be paid, how many staff need to be hired, and many other factors. It would likely cost many millions of dollars from the state’s budget. Defend Our Constitution, a bipartisan group that opposes the convention, estimates it could cost about $17 million.
What happens if a majority of people vote against holding another convention?
Then the state constitution remains the same. It is legally possible for the Legislature to call for a convention at any time, but it has never considered doing it. It is also possible for the Legislature to propose and vote on amendments to the state’s Constitution. Those amendments must then be approved by voters. Since the state was founded, 28 amendments have passed and 12 have failed.
When is the election?
Tuesday, November 8. Early voting begins on October 24.
Do you have other questions about the convention or other elections related issues?
Email Anne Hillman at firstname.lastname@example.org