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Difference between revisions of "Amending state constitutions"

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* Constitutional amendment can be accomplished via a {{lrcafull}}.  Placing such a proposed amendment on the ballot must be approved by a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the [[Alaska State Legislature]].
 
* Constitutional amendment can be accomplished via a {{lrcafull}}.  Placing such a proposed amendment on the ballot must be approved by a two-thirds vote of each chamber of the [[Alaska State Legislature]].
* [[Alaska Votes on Constitutional Amendments (1974)]] stipulates that amendments can only be voted on in general elections.
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* [[Alaska Votes on Constitutional Amendments, Amendment 1 (August 1974)|Alaska Votes on Constitutional Amendments, which was approved as Amendment 1 in 1974,]] stipulates that amendments can only be voted on in general elections.
 
* The constitution can also be amended via a [[constitutional convention]].   
 
* The constitution can also be amended via a [[constitutional convention]].   
 
:* Article 13 says that an [[automatic ballot referral]] to ask the voters of the state whether they wish to convene a statewide constitutional convention must be placed on the statewide ballot every ten years.
 
:* Article 13 says that an [[automatic ballot referral]] to ask the voters of the state whether they wish to convene a statewide constitutional convention must be placed on the statewide ballot every ten years.

Revision as of 22:46, 4 April 2014

StateConstitutions Ballotpedia.jpg
Legislative amendmentsInitiated amendments
Constitutional conventionsCommission referrals
Judicial action
AlabamaAlaskaArizonaArkansas
CaliforniaColoradoConnecticutDelaware
FloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdaho
IllinoisIndianaIowaKansas
KentuckyLouisianaMaineMaryland
MassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippi
MissouriMontanaNebraskaNevada
New HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew York
North CarolinaNorth DakotaOhioOklahoma
OregonPennsylvaniaRhode Island
South CarolinaSouth DakotaTennessee
TexasUtahVermontVirginia
WashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsinWyoming
Publication requirements
Each American state has its own rules and procedures that govern how its constitution can be amended.

The ways a state constitution can be amended or revised are:

State constitutions can also be changed through judicial action. This can happen when a federal court declares that part of a state's constitution is unconstitutional under the U.S. Constitution and must be removed or treated as null. It can also happen when a state court declares that an amendment to the state's constitution is unacceptable.

Frequency of amendment

The Maryland State Constitutions Project reported in 2000 that "there have been almost 150 state constitutions, they have been amended roughly 12,000 times, and the text of the constitutions and their amendments comprises about 15,000 pages of text."[1]

Amendment procedures

Legislative amendments

See also: Legislatively-referred constitutional amendments

Every state except Delaware allows its state legislature to propose legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. 36 states permit an amendment to be submitted to the state's voters after one passage through the legislature. Eleven states require two passages, often with the requirement that a state legislative election intervene between the two times the amendment is considered in the legislature. Three states (Connecticut, Hawaii, and New Jersey) have an either/or system: a proposed amendment must be passed by simple majority in two separate legislative sessions, or by a supermajority vote of one session.

The Delaware Constitution can be amended by a two-thirds vote by two consecutive legislatures but there is no ratifying vote of the people.[2]

Initiated amendments

See also: Initiated constitutional amendments

Eighteen states allow voters the right to amend their constitution through the ballot initiative process.

These states are Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and South Dakota.

As a practical matter, it is considered nearly impossible to meet the ballot qualification standards in Illinois, Massachusetts, Mississippi and Oklahoma. In recent years, additional hurdles of also been enacted in Florida, Montana and Nebraska.

In Nevada, voters must approve a constitutional amendment in two separate elections before it goes into effect.

Constitutional conventions

See also: Constitutional conventions

44 states have laws that lay out how a constitutional convention can be called in their state. The main differences between these laws are:

  • In some states, a ballot measure asking the people to approve or disapprove of holding a convention appears automatically on the ballot every ten or (in some states) twenty years.
  • In some states, the state legislature can act to place on the ballot a question asking the voters whether they wish to call a convention. These states vary with respect to:
  • What percentage of those in the state legislature must vote to place such a question on the ballot.
  • Whether the legislature must vote in favor of placing such a measure before the people in one or more legislative sessions.
  • Once a constitutional convention question has been placed before the voters, what percentage of them must approve it for it to become part of the state's constitution.
  • In some states, the legislature can call a convention without having to ask the voters for their approval of a convention.

Commission referrals

See also: Commission-referred ballot measure
  • With the passage of Amendment 4 in 1996, New Mexico created a process where a commission can develop and submit proposals for constitutional amendments to the state legislature.

Judicial action

Court rulings can change (amend) a state's constitution. One way a court ruling can do this is when a federal court decides that a voter-approved amendment to a state's constitution is in conflict with the U.S. Constitution and must therefore be removed from that state's constitution and declared null-and-void.

State courts have also altered state constitutions by ruling that a voter-approved amendment to the state's constitution conflicts with the rest of the constitution or is in some other way unacceptable to the court and therefore must be removed from that state's constitution and declared null-and-void.

Procedures by state

Alabama

Main article: Article XVIII, Alabama Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Alabama

Article XVIII of the Alabama Constitution defines two ways to amend the state constitution:

  • If both houses of the Alabama State Legislature by a three-fifths (60%) vote agree, then a proposed constitutional amendment shall go on a statewide election ballot. If that amendment is approved by a simple majority of those voting in that election, it becomes part of the constitution.
  • Amendments can initiate in either the Alabama State Senate or the Alabama House of Representatives.
  • Amendments can be voted on either at the next general election, or at a special election date determined by the state legislature. Any such special elections must take place "not less than" three months after the final adjournment of the session of the legislature during which the amendment(s) was proposed.
  • Notice of the fact that an election on a proposed amendment is going to take place must be published in each county of the state for at least eight successive weeks prior to the election.
  • If both chambers of the state legislature agree by a simple majority vote, then a ballot question about whether to have a statewide constitutional convention can be placed on the ballot; if that question is approved by a majority of those voting in that election, then a constitutional convention will be called.

Alaska

Main article: Article XIII, Alaska Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Alaska

Article 13 of the Alaska Constitution defines these ways to amend the state constitution:

  • Article 13 says that an automatic ballot referral to ask the voters of the state whether they wish to convene a statewide constitutional convention must be placed on the statewide ballot every ten years.
  • Article 13 also allows the state legislature to call constitutional conventions whenever they wish.

Arizona

Front cover of the Arizona Constitution adopted in 1891
Main article: Article 21, Arizona Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Arizona

Article 21 of the Arizona Constitution allows three methods of amending the Arizona Constitution:

  • Initiated constitutional amendments. These go on the Arizona ballot if an initiative petition is signed by qualified electors equalling 15% of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election.
  • Legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. Either chamber of the Arizona State Legislature is allowed to propose an amendment. A majority of members of both chambers must approve it; if they do, the proposed amendment goes on a statewide ballot for a popular vote of the people where if a simple majority approves it, it becomes part of the constitution.
  • The Arizona Secretary of State is required to publish a copy of the proposed amendment in a newspaper in each of Arizona's 15 counties for a period of at least ninety days before the election.
  • Proposed amendments must be voted on separately.
  • The state legislature is allowed to call a special election for the purposes of voting on proposed amendments. If no special election is called, amendments are voted on in the next statewide general election.
  • A constitutional convention may be called by a statewide vote of the people. In the absence of such a vote, the state legislature is not allowed to call a convention. Any proposed changes to the constitution that are reported out of a constitutional convention must be submitted to a statewide popular vote where, if approved by a majority of those voting, become part of the constitution.

Arkansas

Arkansas Constitution
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Amendments
Main article: Section 22, Article 19, Arkansas Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Arkansas

The Arkansas Constitution can be amended in these ways:

  • Amendments can be proposed by either house of the Arkansas General Assembly.
  • To qualify for the ballot, the proposed amendment must be approved by a simple majority of both the Arkansas State Senate and the Arkansas House of Representatives.
  • Any such proposed amendments must be published "in at least one newspaper in each county" for the six months preceding any general election at which Arkansas senators and representatives are elected.
  • If any such proposed amendment is approved by a simple majority of those voting in such an election, it becomes part of the state's constitution.
  • Proposed amendments are to be submitted in such a way that electors can consider and vote on each proposed amendment separately.
  • The Arkansas General Assembly is only allowed to submit up to three amendments for any one election.

California

Main articles: Article II, California Constitution, Article XVIII, California Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in California

The California Constitution can be amended in these ways:

  • Two-thirds of the membership of each chamber of the California State Legislature must propose an amendment, which then goes on a statewide ballot to be ratified or rejected by the state's voters.
  • The state legislature is allowed to propose revisions (not just amendments) to the constitution.
  • If measures conflict, and they both get more than 50% of the vote, the one with the highest number of votes prevails.
  • Ratified amendments take effect the day after the election.

Colorado

Colorado Constitution
800px-Flag of Colorado.svg.png
Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVIIXVIIIXIXXXXXIXXIIXXIIIXXIVXXVXXVIXXVIIXXVIIIXXIXSchedule
Main articles: Section 1, Article V of the Colorado Constitution, Article XIX, Colorado Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Colorado

The Colorado Constitution can be amended in these ways:

  • Either chamber of the general assembly can propose an amendment.
  • Two-thirds of each chamber must vote affirmatively for the proposed amendment in order for it to go on the statewide ballot for potential voter ratification.
  • Ratification occurs through simple majority vote.
  • Elections on legislatively-referred constitutional amendments must take place on the same days that general elections are held for members of the Colorado General Assembly.
  • No one general assembly is allowed to propose amendments to more than six of the Colorado Constitution's 29 articles.

Connecticut

Connecticut Constitution
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Preamble
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IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIV
Main articles: Article XII, Connecticut Constitution, Article XIII, Connecticut Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Connecticut.

The Connecticut Constitution can be amended in these ways:

  • If an amendment is approved by a majority (but less than 75%) of the total membership of each chamber, it is then continued to the next session of the legislature. If the amendment is again approved by a majority, it is then put to a statewide vote of the people. If they approve it by a simple majority vote, it becomes part of the state's constitution.
  • However, if the proposed amendment is approved by a 75% or more vote of both chambers of the legislature, it doesn't have to be considered in two consecutive legislative sessions and can instead be put to a vote of the people at the next November general election.
  • Elections on proposed amendments are to take place in Novembers of even-numbered years.
  • Two-thirds of each legislative chamber must vote for a convention.
  • The legislature is not allowed to do this less than ten years after a prior convention.
  • Any proposed amendments that arise out of a convention are to be put to a statewide vote where, if they are approved by a simple majority of those voting, become part of the state's constitution.
  • Article XIII provides for an automatic ballot referral to the state's electors of whether to hold a constitutional convention; these questions are to be put before the people at intervals not exceeding every twenty years.

Delaware

Main article: Article XVI, Delaware Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Delaware

Article XVI defines the paths by which the Delaware Constitution can be amended:

  • The Delaware General Assembly can amend the constitution. Unlike in any other state, the state legislature can amend the constitution without a vote of the people. For the legislature to amend the constitution:
  • Two-thirds of all the members elected to each chamber can vote in favor of a proposed amendment.
  • The Delaware Secretary of State then must publish the proposed amendment(s) three months prior to the next general election in at least three newspapers in each county.
  • The subsequent General Assembly then votes again on the proposed amendment(s) and if an amendment receives the two-thirds approval of all members of each chamber, it becomes part of the constitution.
  • By a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the state legislature, the question, "Shall there be a Convention to revise the Constitution and amend the same?" can go on a statewide ballot. If a simple majority of those voting on the question vote "yes," then there will be a convention.

Florida

750px-Flag of Florida.svg.png
Main article: Article XI, Florida Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Florida

There are more paths to amending the Florida Constitution than are available in any other state. Article XI specifies these different methods:

Georgia

Georgia Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXI
:: Main article: Article X, Georgia Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Georgia

Article X of the Georgia Constitution establishes two ways in which the constitution can be altered, revised or amended over time, either via legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or constitutional conventions.

Some noteworthy features of Article X:

  • It contains a prohibition found in very few state constitutions in that it explicitly restricts the type of amendment that can be offered by saying, "Only amendments which are of general and uniform applicability throughout the state shall be proposed, passed, or submitted to the people."
  • The governor is also explicitly forbidden from vetoing acts of the legislature to propose amendments or call conventions.
  • Newly approved amendments or revisions are effective on the first day of January following their approval.
  • The state legislature can vote to put an entire new constitution on a statewide ballot, rather than just an amendment.
  • Unlike in many other states that allow for constitutional conventions, the legislature can unilaterally call for a convention without submitting that proposal to a vote of the people.

Rules for proposed amendments offered by the Georgia General Assembly include:

  • An amendment can be proposed starting in either chamber of the assembly, i.e., the House of Representatives or the Senate.
  • A proposed amendment must be approved by 2/3rds of the membership of each chamber before going to the state's voters.
  • Proposed amendments are to be voted on during general elections of even-numbered years.
  • Article X establishes a Georgia Constitutional Amendments Publication Board which is charged with ensuring that the state's voters have adequate notification that an election is to occur on a proposed amendment(s).
  • The General Assembly can put a measure on the ballot that is either an amendment to the existing constitution, or an entirely new constitution.
  • The General Assembly is allowed to repeal a previous vote to put a proposed amendment on the ballot if they do so with a 2/3rds vote of both chambers and at least two months before the election would have occurred.

Rules for a constitutional convention include:

  • Unlike in many other states, the state legislature can unilaterally call for a convention as long as 2/3rds of the members of each chamber vote in favor of doing that; the people of the state do not have to be further consulted.
  • Any proposed amendments or revisions arising out of a convention must be put to the state's voters.

Hawaii

Hawaii Constitution
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Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVXVXVIXVIIXVIII
:: Main article: Article XVII, Hawaii Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Hawaii

According to Article XVII of the Hawaii Constitution, there are two methods by which the state's constitution can be revised or amended: the constitutional convention or the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

The Hawaii State Legislature can propose a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment under these conditions:

  • Through a two-thirds vote in both the Hawaii State Senate and the Hawaii House of Representatives, held in one legislative session.
  • Through a simple majority vote in both chambers, held in two successive sessions of the legislature.
  • Any such proposed amendments must then be placed on a statewide ballot, where they can be approved under these conditions:
If approved by a majority of all the votes tallied upon the question if this majority constitutes at least 50% of the total vote cast at the election, or,
If approved at a special election by a majority of all the votes tallied upon the question, if this majority consists of at least 30% of the total number of registered voters in the state at that time.

A constitutional convention can be held under these conditions:

  • If the Hawaii State Legislature puts the question, "Shall there be a convention to propose a revision of or amendments to the Constitution?" on the ballot.
  • If the legislature does not act to place such a question on the ballot, the question shall go on the ballot as an automatic ballot referral every ten years.

Idaho

Main article: Article XX, Idaho Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Idaho

Article XX of the Idaho Constitution establishes two ways in which the constitution can be altered over time, either via legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or constitutional conventions.

Either house of the Idaho State Legislature can propose an amendment. If the amendment is agreed to by two-thirds of the members of both the Idaho State Senate and the Idaho House of Representatives, the proposed amendment goes on the next general election ballot. The amendment becomes part of the constitution if it is approved in a simple majority.

A constitutional convention can be called if:

  • Two-thirds of the members of each house of the legislature vote to place before the people a question as to whether the people want to call a convention.
  • If a majority of all the voters voting at the election vote for a convention, the legislature must arrange to have a convention.

Illinois

Illinois Constitution
Flag of Illinois.png
Preamble
Articles
IIIIIIIVVVIVIIVIIIIXXXIXIIXIIIXIVSchedule
Main article: Article XIV, Illinois Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Illinois

Article XIV lays out four different routes that can be taken in order to change the constitution over time.

  • The legislature can only propose to amend up to three articles of the constitution in any one election.
  • The legislature is not allowed to propose any amendments when a constitutional convention has been called up through the time that an election is held on any proposed amendments or revisions that arise from that convention.
  • It can only apply to "structural and procedural subjects" contained in Article IV of the Illinois Constitution.
  • Signatures equal to 8% of the total vote cast for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election must be collected.

Whether the question at hand is about holding a constitutional convention, ratifying an amendment proposed by the Illinois General Assembly, or adopting an initiated constitutional amendment, these ballot questions are only considered successful if voters say "yes" by a supermajority vote of 60% of those voting on the question or a majority of those who cast a ballot for any office in that election.

Indiana

Indiana Constitution
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Preamble
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Main article: Article 16, Indiana Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Indiana

The amendment procedures available under the Indiana Constitution are more restrictive than in those of nearly any other state. Only one system is allowed (the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment), and this procedure in Indiana is itself more restrictive than in most states, since any proposed amendment must be approved by two successive sessions of the Indiana General Assembly before it can go to a vote of the people. Article 16 also does not say anything about how a constitutional convention could be held or called; whereas, the constitutions of more than 40 other states do lay out in their constitutions how that process would work in their state.

Details of how the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment process works in Indiana, as defined in Article 16, are:

  • An amendment can be proposed in either chamber of the Indiana General Assembly.
  • An amendment must be agreed to by a simple majority of the members elected to each of the two chambers.
  • If that happens, the same amendment can be proposed in the next session of the legislature that convenes after a general election has taken place.
  • If the amendment is approved by a simple majority vote of both chambers of the general assembly in that second legislative session, the amendment is then to be submitted to a statewide vote of the people at a general election.
  • If a majority of those voting on the question approve it, the proposed amendment then becomes part of the Indiana Constitution.

Iowa

Main article: Article X, Iowa Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Iowa

Article X of the Iowa Constitution governs the ways in which the state's constitution can be changed over time.

Article X allows:

  • Two successive general assemblies must vote to put the proposed amendment on a statewide ballot, by majority votes.
  • Amendments can be proposed in either chamber.
  • Once an amendment is on the ballot, in order to become part of the constitution, it must be approved by "a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the general assembly, voting thereon."

Kansas

Kansas Constitution
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OrdinancePreambleBill of Rights
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Main article: Article 14, Kansas Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Kansas

Article 14 of the Kansas Constitution governs the ways in which the state's constitution can be changed over time.

One path is the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. Either house of the Kansas State Legislature can propose an amendment to the state's constitution. Two-thirds of the members of each chamber must approve the resolution. If they do, the proposed amendment goes on either the next statewide ballot during which members of the state legislature are elected, or on a special election ballot if the legislature agrees to have a special election for this purpose.

  • If a simple majority of the electors of the state who vote on the proposition agree with it, it becomes part of the constitution.
  • The legislature must say what the measure's ballot title will be in their resolution authorizing it.
  • If there is more than one proposed amendment, voters must be able to vote on them separately.
  • At most five amendments can be proposed for one election.
  • An amendment is allowed to revise one entire article of the constitution, "except the article on general provisions."

Another path is through a constitutional convention. If two-thirds of the members of each house of the state legislature vote in favor, the question "Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the constitution of the state of Kansas?" or "Shall there be a convention limited to revision of article(s) ________ of the constitution of the state of Kansas?" shall be placed on a statewide ballot. If a simple majority of those voting on that question say "yes," there shall be a convention. Any amendments or revisions that come out of the convention must go before the state's voters.

Kentucky

Main article: Mode of Revision, Kentucky Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Kentucky

There are two ways to amend the Kentucky Constitution:

A legislatively-referred constitutional amendment can be proposed in either house of the Kentucky General Assembly.

  • If 60% of the membership of each chamber approves, the proposed amendment goes on the ballot at the next general election during which members of the state legislature are up for election.
  • If a proposed amendment is approved by a simple majority of those voting on the question, it becomes part of the constitution.
  • The state legislature is not allowed to put more than four proposed amendments on any one ballot.
  • Proposed amendments "may relate to a single subject or to related subject matters and may amend or modify as many articles and as many sections of the Constitution as may be necessary and appropriate in order to accomplish the objectives of the amendment."

A constitutional convention can be called if:

  • A majority of all the members of each of the two chambers of the state legislature agree to place a question before the state's voters about whether to have a constitutional convention.
  • In the next session of the legislature, a majority of the members again agree to place this question before the state's voters.
  • A majority of those voting on the question say "yes" and if the number of voters voting "yes" is "equal to one-fourth of the number of qualified voters who voted at the last preceding general election."

Louisiana

Main article: Article XIII, Louisiana Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Louisiana

There are two ways to amend or revise the Louisiana Constitution:

If 2/3rds of the members of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature vote in the affirmative, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment can be placed on a statewide ballot. If approved by a simple majority, it becomes part of the constitution in twenty days, unless the amendment itself has a different date that it will become effective.

  • Amendments to the constitution can be proposed that directly affect voters in just part of the state. If an amendment affects five or fewer parishes it has to be approved by a majority statewide vote and by a majority vote in the parishes it affects. The same thing is true for an amendment that affects five or fewer municipalities in the state.
  • Resolutions of the state legislature authorizing a proposed amendment to be placed on the ballot for voter ratification must specify an election. The legislature can decree a special election for this purpose.
  • Proposed amendments must cover just one subject with the exception that the legislature is allowed to put an amendment on the ballot that, if approved, would alter or revise one full article of the constitution. In the case of such an amendment, it can cover multiple subjects.

Two-thirds of the members of both houses can call for a constitutional convention. The results of such a convention have to go before the state's voters for ratification. Unlike most other states that allow for constitutional conventions, the Louisiana legislature can directly order up a convention without having to submit the question of whether or not to hold one to the state's voters.

Maine

687px-Flag of Maine.svg.png
See also: Article IV--Part Third, Maine Constitution, Article X, Maine Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Maine

The Maine Constitution may be amended in two ways:

  • According to Section 15 of Part III of Article IV, the legislature can, by a 2/3 concurrent vote of both branches, call a constitutional convention. Maine has never called such a convention; however, two "constitutional commissions" were impanelled, one in 1876 and one in 1962, but neither led to significant changes.[3]
  • According to Section 4 of Article X, if the Maine House of Representatives and the Maine State Senate both vote by at least a 2/3rds majority, a proposed amendment to the constitution can be placed on the statewide ballot on the Tuesday following the first Monday of November after the state legislature acts. Amendments proposed in this way become part of the constitution if they are approved by a simple majority vote of the state's electorate.

The Maine Constitution of 1819 was the first state constitution in the United States that only required one legislative proposal followed by a vote of the people in order to amend itself. All other state constitutions up to Maine's required two legislative actions.[4]

Maryland

Main article: Article XIV, Maryland Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Maryland

Article 14 of the Maryland Constitution defines these ways to amend the state constitution:

  • Section 2 of Article 14 says that an automatic ballot referral to ask the voters of the state whether they wish to convene a statewide constitutional convention must be placed on the statewide ballot every twenty years starting in 1970.
  • Article XIV allows for the possibility that some proposed constitutional amendments may apply to only one county (or the City of Baltimore, which is governed independently of a county structure). In this case, Article XIV says that in order to become part of the constitution, the proposed amendment must be approved by a majority vote not just statewide, but specifically in the county (or Baltimore) to which it exclusively applies.

Massachusetts

Main article: Article XLVIII, Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Massachusetts

The process of amending the Massachusetts Constitution is governed by Article XLVIII, Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution, which is itself the 48th amendment to the state's constitution.

Initiated amendments

Article 48 allows only the indirect initiative amendment and imposes a number of restrictions on such proposed amendments:

  • Petitions that relate to "religion, religious practices or religious institutions" are prohibited.
  • Petitions that relate to the "appointment, qualification, tenure, removal, recall or compensation of judges" are prohibited.
  • Petitions that would reverse judicial decisions are prohibited.
  • Petitions relating to the "powers, creation or abolition of courts" are prohibited.
  • Petitions that apply only to "a particular town, city or other political division or to particular districts or localities of the commonwealth" are prohibited.
  • Petitions that would make "a specific appropriation of money from the treasury of the commonwealth" are prohibited.
  • Any petition relating to Amendment 18 is prohibited through citizen initiative; however, Amendment 18 was altered through other paths.
  • Petitions "inconsistent with" a list of "rights of the individual" are prohibited; those rights include:
  • "The right to receive compensation for private property appropriated to public use."
  • "The right of access to and protection in courts of justice."
  • "The right of trial by jury."
  • "Protection from unreasonable search unreasonable bail and the law martial."
  • "Freedom of the press."
  • "Freedom of elections."
  • "The right of peaceable assembly."
  • The sections of the constitution that prohbit various matters from being taken up by citizen initiative are also, themselves, prohibited from change through the process.
  • Petitions that are "substantially the same as any measure which has been qualified for submission or submitted to the people at either of the two preceding biennial state elections" are prohibited.
  • The Massachusetts General Court is allowed to refer an alternative substitute measure to the ballot to compete with the proposed citizen initiative.
  • The state legislature is allowed to amend the text of an initiated constitutional amendment through a three-fourths vote in joint session.
  • 25% of the members of two successively elected sessions of the Massachusetts General Court must support the proposed amendment in order for it to go on the ballot. There are 200 legislators altogether -- 40 in the Massachusetts State Senate and 160 in the Massachusetts House of Representatives -- so a proposed amendment must earn 50 positive votes. The proposed amendment does not need to earn a 25% vote from both chambers, but rather, from a joint session. (This means, for a hypothetical example, that if 50 members of the state house voted in favor of an amendment, it would require no support from any state senator to qualify for the ballot.)

Constitutional conventions

There have been four constitutional conventions in Massachusetts:

  • From 1779–80. This led to the adoption of the Massachusetts Constitution, which is the oldest state constitution continuously in effect.
  • From 1820-21. This convention yielded the Articles of Amendment, 1-9.
  • 1853. This convention led to a proposal for an entirely new constitution and seven proposed amendments. They were submitted to a vote of the people, and they all lost.
  • 1917–19. This constitution proposed 22 amendments and a revised draft of the existing constitution. Voters approved all these proposals.

Michigan

Main article: Article XII, Michigan Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Michigan

The Michigan Constitution can be amended in these ways:

Minnesota

Main article: Article IX, Minnesota Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Minnesota

The Minnesota Constitution can be amended via two different paths:

  • Through a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment as established in Section 1 of Article IX. These can be proposed in either chamber of the Minnesota State Legislature. Proposed amendments must be agreed to by a majority of the members of each chamber of the legislature. Elections on proposed constitutional amendments can only occur on a general election date. Proposed amendments on different subjects must be split into more than one proposed amendment.
  • Through a constitutional convention as established in Section 3 of Article IX. For a constitutional convention question to go on the Minnesota ballot, 2/3rds of the members of each chamber of the Minnesota legislature must vote in favor. Any amendments that are proposed by a constitutional convention must go before the state's voters and there, must be approved by a 60% supermajority vote.
  • A unique feature of Minnesota's law is that it takes a higher percentage vote (60%) to approve amendments proposed by a constitutional convention than amendments proposed by the legislature. The ballot statement about proposed amendments must include "a conspicuous notice shall be printed stating that a voter's failure to vote on a constitutional amendment has the effect of a negative vote."[5]
  • By statute, proposed constitutional amendments in Minnesota are printed on a pink ballot.[5]

Mississippi

Mississippi Constitution
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See also: Article XV, Mississippi Constitution and Laws governing the initiative process in Mississippi

The Mississippi Constitution can be amended via two different paths:

  • For a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment to go on the ballot, two-thirds (2/3) of each house of the Mississippi State Legislature must vote to put it there. The absolute number of those voting in favor must be equal to at least a majority of the members elected to each house.
  • More than one amendment can be submitted for an election, and voters must be able to vote on them separately.
  • The legislature can call a special election for the purposes of voting on one of its proposed amendments.
  • Proposed amendments that are approved by a simple majority become part of the constitution.
  • Signatures equalling 12% of the vote for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election must be collected in a period not to exceed a year.
  • A tough distribution requirement such that signatures of the qualified electors from any congressional district shall not exceed one-fifth (1/5) of the total number of signatures required to qualify the measure for the ballot.
  • initiated constitutional amendments cannot be about altering in any way the Bill of Rights of the Mississippi Constitution.
  • They also can't be about the Mississippi Public Employees' Retirement System.
  • They can't be about amending or repealing the constitutional guarantee that the right of any person to work shall not be denied or abridged on account of membership or nonmembership in any labor union or organization.
  • They can't modify the initiative process for proposing amendments to the Constitution (for example, to make it easier).
  • The state legislature can place a competing measure on the ballot.
  • To pass, an initiative must receive a majority of the votes thereon and not less than forty percent (40%) of the total votes cast at the election at which the measure was submitted to be approved.
  • No more than five initiatives can appear on any one ballot.
  • If an initiative is rejected, it (or a similar measure) can't go on the ballot again for at least two years.

Note: Mississippi has no provision for a constitutional convention.

Missouri

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See also: Article XII, Missouri Constitution and Laws governing the initiative process in Missouri

The Missouri Constitution can be amended via three different paths:

  • Through a constitutional convention as established in Section 3a of Article XII. A question about whether to hold a constitutional convention is to automatically appear on the state's ballot every twenty years. The first of these automatic referrals under the Constitution of 1945 (Missouri's current constitution) was in 1962, 1982 and 2002.[6] The next will be in 2022. In 1942, under an older version of the Missouri Constitution, voters were asked about having a constitutional convention and said "Yes." It was that convention that led to the Missouri Constitution of 1945, the state's current constitution.

Votes on proposed amendments can take place at a general election or a special election.

A unique feature of Missouri's law governing constitutional amendments is a provision in Section 2(b) of Article XII saying that proposed amendments should be published if possible "in two newspapers of different political faith in each county."

Montana

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See also: Article XIV, Montana Constitution and Laws governing the initiative process in Montana

The Montana Constitution can be amended through initiated constitutional amendments, legislatively-referred constitutional amendments and constitutional conventions.

Montana offers three different paths to having a constitutional convention. They are:

  • Section 1, Article XIV says that the Montana State Legislature, "by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of all the members ... may at any time submit to the qualified electors the question of whether there shall be an unlimited convention to revise, alter, or amend" the constitution.
  • Section 2, Article XIV says that the state's electors can put a question about whether to hold a convention on a statewide ballot if a petition is signed by at least ten percent of the qualified electors of the state, including at least ten percent of the qualified electors in each of two-fifths of the legislative districts.
  • Section 3, Article XIV says that a question about whether to hold a convention shall automatically go on the ballot every twenty years if it has not otherwise appeared on the ballot.

The Montana State Legislature can put a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment on the ballot, according to Section 8 of Article XIV. Any member of the legislature can propose an amendment. The amendment must then be adopted by an affirmative roll call vote of two-thirds of all members of the legislature.

The electors of the state can qualify an initiated constitutional amendment, according to Section 9 of Article XIV. Proposed initiated amendments go on the ballot if petitions are signed by at least ten percent of the qualified electors of the state, including at least ten percent of the qualified electors in each of at least one-half of the counties.

Nebraska

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See also: Article XVI, Nebraska Constitution, Article III, Nebraska Constitution, and Laws governing the initiative process in Nebraska

Nebraska offers three different paths to amending its constitution. They are:

  • 60% of the members of the state legislature must vote for the proposed amendment.
  • The legislature can call a special statewide election to vote on the proposed amendment, but 80% of the members of the state legislature must vote for any such special election.
  • If no special election is called, the proposed amendment must go on the next general election ballot that includes elections for members of the state legislature.
  • The amendment becomes part of the constitution if it wins a majority vote and it wins the votes of at least 35% of those voting in the election for any office.
  • A constitutional convention can be held to "revise, amend, or change" the constitution if 60% of Nebraska's legislators agree to put a question about whether to have such a convention before the state's voters. A convention will be held if the question wins by a majority vote as long as those voting in favor equal at least 35% of those voting in the election.
  • An initiated constitutional amendment. The rules for this are set out in Sections 2 and 4 of Article III. The rules have changed over time in a way that makes the requirements more difficult; specifically, the number of signatures required to qualify an amendment for the ballot has gone from 10% of those who voted for governor in the most recent gubernatorial election to 10% of the state's registered voters.

Nevada

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See also: Article 16, Nevada Constitution, Article 19, Nevada Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Nevada

The Nevada Constitution can be amended via three different paths: a constitutional convention, a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment or an initiated constitutional amendment.

Section 1 of Article 16 governs how the Nevada State Legislature can propose an amendment to the constitution.

  • An amendment can be proposed in either chamber of the state legislature.
  • A majority of the members of both chambers must approve the proposed amendment.
  • After the next general election for members of the state legislature, the proposed amendment must be considered again, and again approved by a majority of the members of both chambers.
  • The state legislature can call a special election for the proposed amendment(s) if they wish.
  • The amendment is then put to a vote of the people. If "a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members of the Legislature voting thereon" vote in favor of it, the measure becomes part of the constitution unless it is precluded by Section 2 of Article 19.
  • If two amendments are proposed at the same election that contradict each other, the one that gets the most votes becomes part of the constitution.

Section 2 of Article 16 governs constitutional conventions.

  • If two-thirds of the Nevada State Legislature votes in favor, a question about whether to hold a constitutional convention goes on a statewide ballot. That election must be held at the same time as an election is being held for members of the state legislature (that is, a constitutional convention question can't go on a special election ballot).
  • A majority vote -- but not a simple majority vote -- of the statewide electorate is required to generate a convention: "In determining what is a majority of the electors voting at such election, reference shall be had to the highest number of votes cast at such election for the candidates for any office or on any question."

Sections 2 and 3 of Article 19 govern initiated constitutional amendments.

  • Signatures equalling 10% of the number of voters who voted at the last preceding general election must be collected to qualify an amendment for the ballot, and these signatures are subject to a distribution requirement
  • If an initiated constitutional amendment wins in one election, it must win again at the next general election in an even-numbered year for it to become part of the constitution.
  • Nevada is the only state that requires that a citizen-initiated amendment be voted on twice. The same requirement does not apply to legislatively-referred constitutional amendments in the state.

Note: The Nevada State Legislature has proposed that Sections 2 and 3 be amended. This election will occur in November 2010. Section 2 (Proposed) and Section 3 (Proposed) will take effect on November 23, 2010 if they are approved by the statewide electorate.

New Hampshire

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See also: Article 100 of the New Hampshire Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in New Hampshire

There are two paths to altering the New Hampshire Constitution: A legislatively-referred constitutional amendment or a constitutional convention.

Part II, Article 100 says that a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment can go on the ballot if approved by a 60% vote of each house of the New Hampshire General Court. Once on the ballot, a proposed amendment must be approved by 2/3rds of those voting in order to become part of the state's constitution.

Article 100 says that a constitutional convention question can go on the ballot in two different ways:

  • Through a majority vote of both houses of the New Hampshire General Court.
  • A question about whether to have a convention also goes on the ballot automatically every ten years.
  • In each case, the wording of the question is, "Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the constitution?"
  • A majority of those voting must approve it.
  • Delegates to that convention can propose amendments by a 60% vote.
  • A 2/3rds supermajority vote of qualified voters is required to adopt any such proposed amendments.

New Jersey

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See also: Article IX, New Jersey Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in New Jersey

There's only one way to amend the New Jersey Constitution, and that is through a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. New Jersey is one of six states that has no provision for a constitutional convention.

New Jersey has several unusual requirements for proposed amendments:

  • It has an either/or system for qualifying a proposed amendment for the ballot. A proposed amendment can be passed by simple majority in two separate legislative sessions, or by a 60% supermajority vote of one session. Connecticut and Hawaii have a similar "either/or" requirement, except that Connecticut requires a 75% supermajority and Hawaii requires a 2/3rds supermajority.
  • If a proposed amendment fails, it (or a similar but not identical amendment) can't go back on the ballot "before the third general election thereafter."

New Jersey has several common requirements as well:

  • Proposed amendments must adhere to the single-subject rule.
  • Once on the ballot, a simple majority of voters must approve a measure for it to go in the constitution.

New Mexico

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See also: Article XIX, New Mexico Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in New Mexico

The New Mexico Constitution can be amended through a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment or through a constitutional convention.

Rules regarding legislatively-referred constitutional amendments are:

  • They can be proposed in either house of the New Mexico State Legislature.
  • It takes a majority vote "of all members elected to each of the two houses voting separately votes in favor thereof" for a proposed amendment to qualify for the ballot.
  • Starting with Amendment 4 in 1996, an independent constitutional revision commission can submit proposed amendments to the state legislature.
  • Notification that a proposed amendment will be on the ballot must be published in each county in the state and in both English and Spanish when newspapers in both languages are published in a particular county.
  • When the state legislature votes to put a proposed amendment on the ballot, it is allowed to call a special election for that purpose.
  • A simple majority vote of the statewide electorate is required to ratify an amendment.

There is an unusual subject-matter restriction on the right of the state legislature to propose an amendment:

  • Amendments proposed by the legislature cannot "restrict the rights created by Section 1 or Section 3 of Article VII or Section 8 and Section 10 of Article XII "unless it be proposed by vote of three-fourths of the members elected to each house and be ratified by a vote of the people of this state in an election at which at least three-fourths of the electors voting on the amendment vote in favor of that amendment."

The New Mexico State Legislature can put a constitutional convention question on the statewide ballot by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to each house.

Finally, although the New Mexico Constitution does not allow for initiated constitutional amendments, it contains a provision that pre-emptively limits what such amendments could do, if the citizens of the state ever were accorded that right, saying "If this constitution be in any way so amended as to allow laws to be enacted by direct vote of the electors the laws which may be so enacted shall be only such as might be enacted by the legislature under the provisions of this constitution."

New York

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See also: Article XIX, New York Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in New Mexico

According to Section 1 of Article XIX, the New York State Legislature has the power to propose amendments to the constitution as follows:

  • Any proposed amendments must be referred to the New York Attorney General, who is required to provide a written opinion as to how the proposed amendment fits in with other provisions of the constitution.
  • If both chambers of the legislature (the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly) agree with the proposed amendment by a simple majority vote, the proposed amendment is then referred to "the next regular legislative session convening after the succeeding general election of members of the assembly."
  • If that next session of the legislature agrees with the amendment by a simple majority vote of both chambers, "it shall be the duty of the legislature to submit each proposed amendment or amendments to the people for approval in such manner and at such times as the legislature shall prescribe."
  • If a general statewide vote approves the amendment by a simple majority vote, it becomes a part of the constitution on the "day of January next after such approval."[7]

The New York Constitution can also be amended through the constitutional convention process:

  • According to Section 2 of Article XIX, a question as to whether there shall be a convention is to appear on the statewide ballot every 20 years beginning in 1957.
  • The New York State Legislature can also refer a question to the ballot about whether to hold a convention.
  • The New York Constitution is the only state constitution that describes the constitutional convention process that specifically says what to do should a delegate to the convention die while the convention is still ongoing.

North Carolina

See also: Article XIII, North Carolina Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in North Carolina

There are two paths to amending the North Carolina Constitution; the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment and a constitutional convention.

Section 4 of Article XIII says that a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment is to go on the ballot if 60% of "all the members of each house" of the North Carolina State Legislature adopt an act submitting the proposed amendment to a statewide vote. The legislature can determine the date of the election on a proposed amendment.

Section 1 of Article XIII says that a constitutional convention can be called if:

  • There is a 2/3rds vote of both houses of the state legislature to put a convention question on the ballot.
  • A majority of those voting affirm the idea of having a convention.
  • Amendments or revisions proposed by a convention go to a statewide vote of the people for ratification.

North Dakota

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See also: Article III, North Dakota Constitution, Section 16 of Article IV and see also Laws governing ballot measures in North Dakota

There are three paths to amending the North Dakota Constitution: initiated constitutional amendments, legislatively-referred constitutional amendments, and constitutional conventions.

  • Section 1 of Article III explicitly says that the initiative petition process can be used to call a constitutional convention. It is unusual for a constitution to explicitly address this issue. The North Dakota Constitution provides no mechanism under which the state legislature can initiate a call for a convention.
  • Section 16 of Article IV is about legislatively-referred constitutional amendments. It very simply says, "Any amendment to this constitution may be proposed in either house of the legislative assembly, and if agreed to upon a roll call by a majority of the members elected to each house, must be submitted to the electors and if a majority of the votes cast thereon are in the affirmative, the amendment is a part of this constitution." Unlike any other state constitution, the North Dakota Constitution defines the process of the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment in the article of the state constitution that, overall, has to do with the rights and perogatives of the state's legislative branch. Nearly every other state constitution has a separate article of the constitution just to do with how that constitution can be amended.

Ohio

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See also: Section 1a, Article II, Ohio Constitution, Article XVI, Ohio Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Ohio

The Ohio Constitution lays out three different paths, in two different articles, for how to go about changing the state's constitution.

Section 1a of Article II defines the right of citizens to use initiated constitutional amendments.

  • Signatures equalling 10% of the number voting for governor in the most recent election are required to qualify an initiated constitutional amendment for the ballot.
  • The constitution says that petitions must have printed on them the words “Amendment to the Constitution Proposed by Initiative Petition to be Submitted Directly to the Electors.”

The Ohio State Legislature can propose amendments, according to Article XVI, if 60% of both chambers agree to it. The Ohio Constitution includes some unusual constitutional-level provisions governing this process including:

  • The constitution establishes the Ohio Ballot Board.
  • Elections on amendments proposed by the legislature can take place on general election days or special election days.
  • The Ohio Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over matters relating to legislatively-proposed amendments.
  • Lawsuits against legislatively-proposed amendments for the most part cannot be filed within 64 days of the election.

Finally, Ohio can call a constitutional convention in two different ways:

  • The Ohio State Legislature, if approved by a 2/3rds majority, can put a question on the ballot about whether to have a convention.
  • Every twenty years, starting in 1932, the question "Shall there be a convention to revise, alter, or amend the constitution[,]" is to automatically appear on the state's ballot. This 20-year cycle is invariant regardless of whether the state legislature also votes to put a similar question on the ballot from time to time.

Oklahoma

See also: Section 1, Article V, Oklahoma Constitution, Article XXIV, Oklahoma Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Oklahoma

The Oklahoma Constitution lays out three different paths, in two different articles, for how to go about changing the state's constitution.

Sections 1 and 2 of Article V say that citizens of the state have the right to amend their constitution through the process of initiated constitutional amendments.

  • Signatures equalling 15% of "legal voters" must sign a petition to put a proposed amendment on the ballot. The number of "legal voters" is defined as based on "the total number of votes cast at the last general election for the State office receiving the highest number of votes at such election."
  • Petitions that are circulated for this purpose must include "the full text of the measure so proposed."

According to Section 1 of Article XXIV, the Oklahoma State Legislature can propose amendments:

  • By a simple majority vote.
  • If the legislature wants the proposed amendment to go on a special election ballot, it has to approve the amendment by a 2/3rds vote.
  • Proposed amendments must observe the single-subject rule.

Section 2 of Article XXIV says that constitutional conventions can only be held if approved by a statewide vote. Section 2 also says a question about whether to hold a convention shall automatically appear on the state's ballot every 20 years. The section does not specify any way other than the every-20-years automatic referral, but is worded in such a way as to suggest that there could be other ways for a constitutional convention question to go on the ballot. Other ways could include the state legislature voting to put it there or citizens petitioning to put such a question on the ballot.

Oregon

Cover of the 1857 Oregon Constitution
See also: Section 1, Article IV, Oregon Constitution, Article XVII, Oregon Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Oregon

The Oregon Constitution lays out four different paths, in two different articles, for how to go about changing the state's constitution. The Oregon Constitution is explicit--unlike virtually any other state constitution--on the process for a constitutional revision, which is established in Section 2 of Article XVII.

The constitution also lays out three paths by which it may be amended.

1. Section 1, Article IV says that the people of the state can use the initiated constitutional amendment.

  • An initiated amendment must be proposed "only by a petition signed by a number of qualified voters equal to eight percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for Governor at the election at which a Governor was elected for a term of four years next preceding the filing of the petition."
  • The petition must include the full text of the proposed amendment.
  • The signatures must be filed "not less than four months before the election at which the proposed...amendment to the Constitution is to be voted upon."
  • Article IV contains several restrictions on the process such as Section 1b, which prohibits pay-per-signature.

2. Section 1 of Article XVIII creates the procedures by which the Oregon State Legislature can use the process of a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment.

  • Amendments can be proposed in either house of the state legislature.
  • To earn a spot on the ballot, a "majority of all the members elected to each of the two houses" must vote in favor of a proposed amendment.
  • The legislature can, if it wishes, put any such referred amendments on a special election ballot.
  • "When two or more amendments shall be submitted in the manner aforesaid to the voters of this state at the same election, they shall be so submitted that each amendment shall be voted on separately."

3. Section 1 of Article XVIII also addresses how a constitutional convention can be held but only in the negative by saying "No convention shall be called to amend or propose amendments to this Constitution, or to propose a new Constitution, unless the law providing for such convention shall first be approved by the people on a referendum vote at a regular general election." What is left undefined is how the question of whether to hold a convention can come before the people in the first place: Can citizens petition under Article IV to put it on the ballot? Can the state legislature vote to put it on the ballot?

Pennsylvania

Main article: Article XI, Pennsylvania Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Constitution is only explicit about one way to change it; namely, the process of a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. The constitution does not lay out the rules for how a constitutional convention can be called but, nevertheless, the state has held five such conventions, mostly recently in 1968 when the current constitution was adopted.[8]

The rules governing legislatively-referred constitutional amendments are in Article XI, which has only one section. Features of Article XI are:

  • Either chamber of the Pennsylvania General Assembly can propose amendments.
  • If a simple majority of both chambers approves of a proposed amendment, that amendment must be "published three months before the next general election, in at least two newspapers in every county in which such newspapers shall be published."
  • In the next session of the legislature, the amendment must be considered again. If it is approved a second time by a simple majority of both houses, the amendment goes on a statewide ballot. This can be at any election date as determined by the state legislature.
  • ."..no amendment or amendments shall be submitted oftener than once in five years."
  • Separate amendments must be voted on separately.

Pennsylvania also has a unique requirement for those times when the state legislature believes that a "major emergency threatens or is about to threaten the Commonwealth." If this happens, the proposed emergency amendment can be approved to go on a statewide ballot by 2/3rds of the members of each legislature. Election officials must promptly publish a notice of an election on the amendment "in at least two newspapers in every county" and the election can occur quickly but "at least one month after being agreed to by both Houses."

Also, ."..when two or more emergency amendments are submitted they shall be voted on separately."

Regarding constitutional conventions, the state legislature appears to take as a matter of tradition, rather than explicit constitutional direction, that it can vote to put a constitutional convention question on the ballot. For example, Ann Livak writes in "Pennsylvania's Constitutions and the Amendment Process - Where it Began, Where it is Now" that ."..in 1961, the Committee for State Constitutional Revision led by Milton J. Shapp got underway and in 1963 forced the legislature to call for a referendum on a constitutional convention....The 1967 legislature gave priority to constitutional revision and passed a convention enabling bill as well as the amendments awaiting second passage." (This suggests that the legislature voted only once to put the convention question on the ballot.)[8]

Rhode Island

Main article: Article XIV, Rhode Island Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Rhode Island

There are two paths by which the Rhode Island Constitution can be changed, the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment and the constitutional convention.

Section 1 of Article 14 explains how the Rhode Island General Assembly can initiate the process of amendment:

  • Amendments may be proposed "by a roll call vote of a majority of the members elected to each house."
  • The proposed amendment "shall be published in such manner as the general assembly shall direct."
  • Votes on amendments take place only at general elections.
  • If a simple majority of voters approve the amendment, it goes into the constitution.

Section 2 of Article 14 is about constitutional conventions:

  • The question, "Shall there be a convention to amend or revise the constitution?," can go on the ballot if approved by a simple majority of the members of both houses of the state's general assembly.
  • If the question hasn't appeared on the ballot at any time in a given ten-year period, the Rhode Island Secretary of State must place it on the ballot as an automatic ballot referral.
  • If the state's voters by a simple majority vote to hold a convention, then a convention shall be held.

Rhode Island has a unique provision about elections on the constitutional convention question. It is, "Prior to a vote by the qualified electors on the holding of a convention, the general assembly, or the governor if the general assembly fails to act, shall provide for a bi-partisan preparatory commission to assemble information on constitutional questions for the electors." This means that before the vote is held, a preparatory commission must be created to do some groundwork for a convention, if the state's voters choose to hold one.

South Carolina

Main article: Article XVI, South Carolina Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in South Carolina

There are two paths to amending the South Carolina Constitution: legislatively-referred constitutional amendments and constitutional conventions.

The rules governing legislatively-referred constitutional amendments are:

  • Amendments can be proposed in either chamber of the South Carolina State Legislature.
  • If "two-thirds of the members elected to each House" vote in favor, the amendment goes on the next general election ballot.
  • If a simple majority of those voting on the amendment approve it, the amendment then goes back to the state legislature.
  • "A majority of each branch of the next General Assembly, after the election and before another" must ratify the amendment.
  • If there is more than one proposed amendment on a ballot, the amendments must be separated so voters can vote on them separately.

The rules governing constitutional conventions are:

  • "Two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly" must vote in favor of putting a question about whether to hold a convention on a statewide ballot.
  • A simple majority vote of the state's electors is sufficient to bring about a convention.
  • ."..such Convention shall consist of a number of members equal to that of the most numerous branch of the General Assembly."

South Dakota

Main article: Article XXIII, South Dakota Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in South Dakota

Amendments to the South Dakota Constitution may be proposed in three different ways:

  • Initiated constitutional amendments. South Dakota is one of 18 states were amendments can be proposed through ballot initiative. Amendments proposed by petition must be "signed by qualified voters equal in number to at least ten percent of the total votes cast for Governor in the last gubernatorial election."

Whether proposed by initiative or by the state legislature, an amendment may amend one or more articles and related subject matter in other articles as necessary to accomplish the objectives of the amendment.[9]

South Dakotans can also change their constitution through a convention, according to Section 2 of Article XXIII. There are two ways a convention can happen:

  • The state legislature can call a convention through a 75% vote "of all the members of each house." (This vote of the state legislature does not need to then go to a vote of the people; they can directly call a convention with 75% of their membership.)
  • Conventions can also be "initiated and submitted to the voters in the same manner as an amendment" by collecting signatures on petitions and putting the question about whether to have a convention to a vote of the state's electors.

Tennessee

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Main article: Section 3 of Article XI of the Tennessee Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Tennessee

The Tennessee Constitution can be amended in these two ways:

As established in Section 3, Article XI, via legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

  • Amendments can be proposed in either chamber of the Tennessee General Assembly.
  • If a majority of the members of both houses approve of a proposed amendment, that amendment must then be referred to the next session of the legislature that meets after the next election of members of the legislature.
  • Proposed amendments have be published six months previous to the election that intervenes between the first session and the second session of the legislature that consider the amendment.
  • When the second session of the legislature considers the amendment, "two-thirds of all the members elected to each house" must approve of it.
  • If that happens, the proposed amendment is placed on the statewide ballot at "the next general election in which a governor is to be chosen."
  • The proposed amendment is approved if it gains more "yes" votes than "no" votes and if the "yes" votes equal "a majority of all the citizens of the state voting for governor."

As established in Section 3 of Article XI, via constitutional convention.

  • The Legislature can submit to the people at any general election "the question of calling a convention to alter, reform, or abolish" the constitution or any parts of it.
  • If a majority of all the voters voting upon the convention question approve the proposal, a convention then is called.
  • The state cannot hold a convention "oftener than once in six years."

Texas

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Main article: Article 17, Texas Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Texas

As laid out in Article 17, in order for a proposed constitutional amendment to go before the people, the Texas State Legislature must propose the amendment in a joint resolution of both the Texas State Senate and the Texas House of Representatives. The joint resolution can originate in either the House or the Senate. The resolution must be adopted by a vote of at least two-thirds of the membership of each house of the legislature. That amounts to a minimum of 100 votes in the House of Representatives and 21 votes in the Senate.

Amendments may be proposed in either regular or special sessions.

Joint resolutions endorsing a proposed amendment must include the text of the proposed constitutional amendment and specify an election date. These joint resolutions may include more than one proposed amendment.

If more than one proposition is under consideration on a ballot, the Texas Secretary of State conducts a random drawing to assign each proposition a ballot number.

If voters reject an amendment, the legislature can resubmit it. For example, after Proposition 2 was rejected in August 1991, the legislature re-adopted it and re-submitted it for that year's November ballot, where it was approved as Texas Proposition 13 (1991).

The ballot wording of a proposition is specified in the joint resolution adopted by the Legislature, which has broad discretion in this matter. Texas courts have heard challenges to proposed ballot wording but have generally ruled that "ballot language is sufficient if it describes the proposed amendment with such definiteness and certainty that voters will not be misled."[10]

The Legislature may call an election for voter consideration of proposed constitutional amendments on any date, as long as election authorities have sufficient time to provide notice to the voters and print the ballots.

A brief explanatory statement of the nature of each proposed amendment, along with the ballot wording for each amendment, must be published twice in each newspaper in the state that prints official notices. The first notice must be published 50 to 60 days before the election. The second notice must be published on the same day of the subsequent week. The secretary of state must send a complete copy of each amendment to each county clerk, who must post it in the courthouse at least 30 days prior to the election.

The secretary of state drafts the ballot explanation. This must be approved by the Attorney General of Texas.

Constitutional amendments take effect when the official vote canvass confirms statewide majority approval, unless a later date is specified. Statewide election results are tabulated by the secretary of state and must be canvassed by the governor 15 to 30 days following the election.

Utah

Delegates to the 1895 Utah constitutional convention
Main article: Article XXIII, Utah Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Utah

The Utah Constitution can be amended in these two ways:

Via the legislatively-referred constitutional amendment process:

  • An amendment can be proposed in either chamber of the Utah State Legislature.
  • A two-thirds vote is necessary in the state legislature to place a proposed amendment before the state's voters.
  • Votes on proposed amendments must take place at general elections.
  • If more than one proposed amendment is on a ballot, the amendments must be placed on the ballot in such a way that voters can register their opinion on them separately.

Via a constitutional convention:

  • A ballot question about whether to hold a convention can go on the ballot if two-thirds of the members of the state legislature vote to put it on the ballot.
  • Votes on whether to hold conventions must go on a general election ballot.

Whether a proposed amendment is offered by the state legislature or comes out of a convention, Section 3 of Article XXIII requires a vote of at least a "majority of the electors of the State voting at the next general election." This means that more voters can vote "yes" on a particular amendment than "no" and it still might lose, depending on how many voters altogether have voted in that election.

Vermont

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Main article: Amendment of the Constitution, Vermont Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Vermont

Section 72 lays out the procedure governing changes to the Vermont Constitution.

  • Proposed amendments must originate in the Vermont State Senate and can only be proposed every four years.
  • Amendments must earn a 2/3rds vote of the members of Vermont State Senate, but require only a majority vote of members of the Vermont House of Representatives.
  • Amendments, once adopted by the senate and house, must then be considered against at the next biennial session of the Vermont General Assembly.
  • The amendment must win a majority vote of both chambers when it is considered for this second time.
  • Such amendments then go on a ballot for a vote of the state's electors. If a proposed amendment wins a simple majority vote, it becomes part of the state's constitution.

The Vermont Constitution, like that of several other states, does not provide for constitutional conventions. Perhaps as a result, Vermont's current constitution is one of the oldest in the country, having been adopted in 1793. The Massachusetts Constitution is the only older constitution.

However, in 1969, the Vermont State Legislature referred an advisory measure to the ballot, asking ""Shall a Vermont Constitutional Convention be convened at the state house in Montpelier on October 6, 1969 to consider the following topics which shall receive a majority of the votes cast upon it in this election, and no others?" (The state's voters said "no" to this advisory question.)

Vermont has changed its amendment process three times:

  • From 1777-1870, amendments could be proposed every seven years by the Council of Censors. This was a 13-member group whose members were elected in statewide elections.
  • From 1870-1974, proposals originated as they do now in the state senate, but could only be made every ten years. This ten-year limit was known as the "time-lock."
  • In 1974, the ten-year "time lock" was reduced to four years, when voters approved an amendment, the Vermont Reduction of Time-Lock from Ten to Four Years (1974).

Virginia

Main article: Article XII, Virginia Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Virginia

The Virginia Constitution can be amended via two different paths:

1. Through a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment as established in Section 1 of Article XII. These can be proposed in either house of the Virginia General Assembly. If a proposed amendment is approved by a simple majority vote in one session of the state legislature, it is automatically referred to the next session of the state legislature that occurs after the next general election of members of the Virginia House of Delegates. If in that second session the proposed amendment is "agreed to by a majority of all the members elected to each house" it is then placed before the state's voters. It can go on a special or general election ballot. If approved by a simple majority vote, it becomes part of the state's constitution.

2. Through a constitutional convention as established in Section 2 of Article XII. A convention can happen if the state's legislature "by a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house" calls a convention.

Washington

Main article: Article XXIII, Washington State Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Washington

The Washington State Constitution can be amended through two routes:

1. A constitutional convention. A convention can be called if:

  • Two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the legislature put a question before the state's voters asking if the state's voters wish for a convention.
  • If a simple majority of voter's say "yes," then the state legislature must call a convention.

2. Either chamber of the Washington State Legislature can initiate an amendment to the state's constitution. Each house (the Washington State Senate and the Washington House of Representatives) must approve the proposal, or a version of it, by a 2/3 vote. If this happens, the proposed legislatively-referred constitutional amendment goes on a statewide ballot at the next general election in the state. If it is approved by a simple majority, it becomes part of the constitution.[11]

West Virginia

Main article: Article XIV, West Virginia Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in West Virginia

West Virginians can modify the West Virginia Constitution through two different paths, a constitutional convention and legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

Section 1 of Article XIV of the West Virginia Constitution addresses how constitutional conventions can be called:

  • A majority vote of both chambers of the West Virginia State Legislature is required to put a question before the voters on a statewide ballot as to whether they wish a convention to be held.
  • If the voters agree to a convention by a simple majority vote, it is to be called.
  • Any proposed amendments that come out of a convention must go on a statewide ballot for possible ratification by the state's voters.

Section 2 of Article XIV of the West Virginia Constitution lays out how legislatively-referred constitutional amendments are to be implemented.[12]

  • Amendments can be proposed in either house of the state's legislature.
  • The membership of both houses must support a proposed amendment by a two-thirds vote.
  • A vote on the proposed amendment may take place at a general or a special election. West Virginia has a unique requirement with regard to voting on amendments at special elections: "Whenever one or more amendments are submitted at a special election, no other question, issue or matter shall be voted upon at such special election."
  • A simple majority vote is required for ratification.
  • Proposed amendments must be placed on the ballot in such a way that they can be voted on separately.
  • "An amendment may relate to a single subject or to related subject matters and may amend or modify as many articles and as many sections of the constitution as may be necessary and appropriate in order to accomplish the objectives of the amendment."

Wisconsin

See also: Article XII, Wisconsin Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Wisconsin

Article XII of the Wisconsin Constitution provides two methods of amendment:

  1. An amendment may be proposed and approved by a simple majority of both chambers of the Wisconsin State Legislature. That proposed amendment must then be considered by the state legislature chosen at the next general election in the state -- and, before that legislative session, the proposed amendment that it will consider must be published for three months prior to the election. Should the amendment be approved by a simple majority of this second session that considers it, the proposed amendment is then placed on a statewide ballot at a special or general election. If it is approved by a simple majority of the state's electorate, it becomes part of the constitution.
  2. If a simple majority of both houses of the Wisconsin State Legislature votes in favor of this, a constitutional convention question shall be placed on a statewide ballot. If the electors of the state agree by a simple majority to call a constitutional convention, then one shall be convened by the state legislature during its next session.

Wyoming

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Main article: Article 20, Wyoming Constitution and see also Laws governing ballot measures in Wyoming

Article 20 of the Wyoming Constitution defines how it can be amended. There are four sections in the Article.

  • In either branch of the Wyoming State Legislature.
  • Regardless of where the amendment originated, two-thirds of all the members of each of the two houses, voting separately, have to agree to put it on the ballot for a vote of the state's electors.
  • Any proposed amendments that receive a 2/3rds vote of both chambers are to go on the ballot at the next general election.
  • The proposed amendment must be published for at least twelve (12) consecutive weeks, prior to a vote being held on it, "in at least one newspaper of general circulation."
  • To succeed, the amendment must be approved by a majority of the electors.
  • Section 2 says that if more than one amendment is proposed, they are to be voted on separately.
  • It can be called if a 2/3rds supermajority vote in both houses of the legislature agree to put a constitutional convention question on the state's next general election ballot.
  • A majority of those voting must approve the call for a convention.
  • If they do, the legislature is required in its next session to organize that convention.
  • Article 20 does not specify how many delegates that convention must have, except to say that the number of delegates must be "not less than double that of the most numerous branch of the legislature."
  • Section 4 says that any constitutional changes recommended by a duly-called constitutional convention don't go into effect unless and until they are approved in a statewide vote of the people.

External links

References