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Montana Constitutional Convention Question (2010)

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Montana Constitution
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IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVSchedule
The Montana Constitutional Convention Question was on the November 2, 2010 ballot in the state of Montana as an automatic ballot referral, where it was defeated.Defeatedd

The measure asked whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention in the state of Montana. The question appears every twenty years on the ballot.[1]

In 1970, residents voted nearly 2-1 in favor of rewriting Montana's original 1889 constitution. The vote resulted in a convention that included 100 elected delegates and 56 staffers. In 1990, voters voted 82 percent to 18 percent against another convention.[2]

Election results

See also: 2010 ballot measure election results

Official results of the measure follow:

Con Con
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No198,66458.5%
Yes 140,869 41.5%

Results via Montana Secretary of State

Text of measure

Ballot language

The ballot language that voters saw on their ballot read:[3]

Article XIV, sections 3 and 4, of the Montana constitution requires the question of holding an unlimited constitutional convention to be submitted to the people at the general election in each 20th year following its last submission. If a majority of those voting on the question answer in the affirmative, the legislature shall provide for the calling thereof at its next session.

[ ] FOR calling a constitutional convention.

[ ] AGAINST calling a constitutional convention

Constitution

The Montana Constitution stated, pertaining to a constitutional convention:

The legislature, by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members, whether one or more bodies, may at any time submit to the qualified electors the question of whether there shall be an unlimited convention to revise, alter, or amend this constitution.[4]

Support

Supporters

  • As in 1990, when the measure was last placed on the ballot, no political committees organized for or against the measure. According to Senator Joe Balyeat, "My guess is that there probably won’t be anything organized for it, unless there’s something organized against it."[5]

Arguments

  • Supporters of the measure stated in the official voter information pamphlet, "Many experts believe additional valuable provisions should be added to Montana’s constitution: taxation and spending limits, supermajority requirements to raise taxes, judicial term limits, government transparency requirements, property rights guarantees, etc."[6]
  • Arguments in the pamphlet also stated, "While our visionary US Constitution has proven its brilliance over 220 years, the Montana constitution’s brief 38-year history net result is assault with a deadly weapon on Montana’s economy and jobs."[6]

Opposition

Opponents

  • As in 1990, when the measure was last placed on the ballot, no political committees organized for or against the measure.[5]
  • Bob Brown, former president of the Montana Legislature stated in an opinion column about the proposed constitutional convention, "Is doing over the state constitution something we should do? After adapting to it and applying it for forty years, does it make sense to throw it out and start all over? I don’t think so."[7]
  • Jean Bowman, who was elected to the 1972 Constitutional Convention and also elected to be the secretary of the convention, stated that the state did not need to pass the measure. Bowman argued, "The 1972 constitution is not perfect. A new constitution won’t be perfect either. The delegates who wrote the 1972 constitution had great faith in the intelligence of the citizens of our wonderful state to make necessary changes. We gave them more individual rights than citizens of any other state enjoy. We gave them a mandate to provide a system of education that will develop the full educational potential of each person, and guarantees equality of educational opportunity."[8]

Arguments

  • In the argument against the measure found in the official voter pamphlet, the argument stated that the Montana Constitution was effective just the way it was written. The statement said, "This Constitution works. It does what it is supposed to do. Art. VIII, Section 8, bluntly commands that “[a]ppropriations by the legislature shall not exceed anticipated revenue.” They do not. Borrowing to cover a shortfall is prohibited. These words speak not of any exception, and none has ever even been remotely proposed. Montana’s budget balances, always, because the Constitution says so."[6]
  • The statement went on to say, "This ballot question should be a clarion call for voters to read, and revere, what our Constitution says, and to vote no on holding a convention to rewrite it. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it."[6]
  • Senator Larry Jent stated about the measure, “Montanans have always been independent, individualistic and insightful. The traits which make us a people and the things we value are enshrined and protected in our Constitution. This Constitution works...If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”[2]

Other perspectives

  • A symposium was planned to be held on October 7 and 8, 2010 at the University of Montana's University Center. The symposium was used as a way to inform voters of what they would be voting on as far as the proposed constitutional convention was concerned. The event was to be sponsored by The Law Review at The University of Montana. According to Megan McCrae, symposium editor, "Our main goal is just to inform voters. We're not taking a position one way or the other, but we're trying to make a neutral symposium where both viewpoints are represented." 50 speakers, among them including attorneys, judges, politicians and professors from across the country, were scheduled to speak at the meeting. Reports stated that each speaker analyzed details of the constitution, including rights to privacy, ways the document could be amended, and other issues.[9]

Media endorsements

See also: Endorsements of Montana ballot measures, 2010

Opposition

  • The Bozeman Daily Chronicle stated its opposition to the measure, arguing, "Voters will get the chance to pass judgment on Constitutional Convention Call 2 on Nov. 2, but they should say no to this one. Rewriting the constitution would be an enormously expensive undertaking and there is simply no call for radical changes in the document at this juncture."[10]
  • The Great Falls Tribune was against the measure, stating, "The fact that the Constitution has been amended a number of times and the fact that this very ballot issue is mandated by the Constitution every 20 years are measures of the document's strength, not its weakness. We hope Montanans will resoundingly vote againstcalling for a constitutional convention."[11]

Path to the ballot

The measure is automatically sent to the ballot every twenty years, as per the state constitution. This can be found in Article XIV, Section 1 of the Montana Constitution.

Similar measures

Constitutional conventions on the ballot in 2010
Nevada 2010 ballot measuresUtah 2010 ballot measuresColorado Fetal Personhood, Amendment 62 (2010)New Mexico 2010 ballot measuresArizona 2010 ballot measuresMontana 2010 ballot measuresCalifornia 2010 ballot measuresOregon 2010 ballot measuresWashington 2010 ballot measuresIdaho 2010 ballot measuresOklahoma 2010 ballot measuresKansas 2010 ballot measuresNebraska 2010 ballot measuresSouth Dakota 2010 ballot measuresNorth Dakota 2010 ballot measuresIowa 2010 ballot measuresMissouri 2010 ballot measuresArkansas 2010 ballot measuresLouisiana 2010 ballot measuresAlabama 2010 ballot measuresGeorgia 2010 ballot measuresFlorida 2010 ballot measuresSouth Carolina 2010 ballot measuresIllinois 2010 ballot measuresTennessee 2010 ballot measuresNorth Carolina 2010 ballot measuresIndiana 2010 ballot measuresOhio 2010 ballot measuresMaine 2010 ballot measuresVirginia 2010 ballot measuresMaryland 2010 ballot measuresMaryland 2010 ballot measuresRhode Island 2010 ballot measuresRhode Island 2010 ballot measuresMassachusetts 2010 ballot measuresMichigan 2010 ballot measuresMichigan 2010 ballot measuresAlaska Parental Notification Initiative, Ballot Measure 2 (2010)Hawaii 2010 ballot measuresCertified, constitutional conventions, 2010 Map.png

According to reports, the state of Montana is one of 14 states that ask voters once in a decade or more whether or not to hold a constitutional convention. The other states that have this requirement in their constitutions are:

Every 10 years

Five states have a Constitutional Convention question on the statewide ballot every ten years:

Every 16 years

One state has a Constitutional Convention question on the statewide ballot every sixteen years:

Every 20 years

Eight states have a Constitutional Convention question on the statewide ballot every twenty years:

See also

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