Rules about constitutional conventions in state constitutions

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State constitutions that allow for constitutional conventions typically provide some rules for how the convention shall be called, how many members it shall include, how those members shall be chosen, how the conduct of the convention shall be governed, and how any proposals that emerge from the convention are to be treated.

The degree to which state constitutions specify these particulars of holding and governing a constitutional convention vary considerably from state-to-state.

See also: Amending state constitutions

Alabama

See also: Article XVIII, Alabama Constitution

If both chambers of the Alabama 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.

With regard to how a convention should be governed, if one is called, Section 286 of Article XVIII provides minimal direction:

...nothing herein contained shall be construed as restricting the jurisdiction and power of the convention, when duly assembled in pursuance of this section, to establish such ordinances and to do and perform such things as to the convention may seem necessary or proper for the purpose of altering, revising, or amending the existing Constitution.

Alaska

See also: Article XIII, Alaska 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 Alaska State Legislature to call constitutional conventions whenever they wish.

Section 3 of Article XIII, with regard to how a convention would be governed, says in relevant part:

...delegates to the convention shall be chosen at the next regular statewide election, unless the legislature provides for the election of the delegates at a special election. The lieutenant governor shall issue the call for the convention. Unless other provisions have been made by law, the call shall conform as nearly as possible to the act calling the Alaska Constitutional Convention of 1955, including, but not limited to, number of members, districts, election and certification of delegates, and submission and ratification of revisions and ordinances. The appropriation provisions of the call shall be self-executing and shall constitute a first claim on the state treasury.

Arizona

Main article: Article 21, Arizona Constitution

A constitutional convention may be called by a statewide vote of the people. In the absence of such a vote, the Arizona State Legislature is not allowed to call a convention.

Section 2 of Article 21 of the Arizona Constitution says that when the people call a convention, they will also provide "laws...for such Convention" which seems to suggest that if the people petition the question of calling a convention onto the ballot, their petition should specify relevant details of how the proposed convention would be governed.

No Convention shall be called by the Legislature to propose alterations, revisions, or amendments to this Constitution, or to propose a new Constitution, unless laws providing for such Convention shall first be approved by the people on a Referendum vote at a regular or special election, and any amendments, alterations, revisions, or new Constitution proposed by such Convention shall be submitted to the electors of the State at a general or special election and be approved by the majority of the electors voting thereon before the same shall become effective.

Arkansas

Main article: Section 22, Article 19, Arkansas Constitution

The Arkansas Constitution is one of a handful of state constitutions with no mechanism for calling a convention.

California

See also: Section 2 of Article XVIII

If two-thirds of the members of each chamber of the state legislature agree, a question as to whether to call a convention or revise the constitution goes on the state's next general election ballot.

Section 2 of Article XVIII provides several specifics about the procedure that must be used:

  • The legislature must "provide for the convention" within six months of the time that voters approve holding a convention.
  • Delegates to the convention are to be elected on a district-by-district basis.
  • The districts from which the convention delegates are elected must have approximately equal populations.
...If the majority vote yes on that question, within 6 months the Legislature shall provide for the convention. Delegates to a constitutional convention shall be voters elected from districts as nearly equal in population as may be practicable.

Colorado

See also: Article XIX, Colorado Constitution.

According to Article XIX, the Colorado General Assembly by a two-thirds vote of each chamber (the Colorado House of Representatives and the Colorado State Senate) can place a measure on the ballot asking the state's voters if they want a constitutional convention. The voters can approve a constitutional convention with a simple majority vote. Any proposed amendments coming out of such a convention are then to be submitted to a statewide vote of the people who can approve them by a simple majority.

The Colorado Constitution specifics a number of details about such conventions.

...if a majority of those voting on the question shall declare in favor of such convention, the general assembly shall, at its next session, provide for the calling thereof. The number of members of the convention shall be twice that of the senate and they shall be elected in the same manner, at the same places, and in the same districts. The general assembly shall, in the act calling the convention, designate the day, hour and place of its meeting; fix the pay of its members and officers, and provide for the payment of the same, together with the necessary expenses of the convention. Before proceeding, the members shall take an oath to support the constitution of the United States, and of the state of Colorado, and to faithfully discharge their duties as members of the convention. The qualifications of members shall be the same as of members of the senate; and vacancies occurring shall be filled in the manner provided for filling vacancies in the general assembly. Said convention shall meet within three months after such election and prepare such revisions, alterations or amendments to the constitution as may be deemed necessary; which shall be submitted to the electors for their ratification or rejection at an election appointed by the convention for that purpose, not less than two nor more than six months after adjournment thereof; and unless so submitted and approved by a majority of the electors voting at the election, no such revision, alteration or amendment shall take effect.

Connecticut

Main articles: Article XIII, Connecticut Constitution

As established in Article XIII, the Connecticut Constitution can be amended via a constitutional convention. In order to call such a convention, these things must happen:

  • 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.

The Connecticut Constitution also lays down some rules for determining how a convention will be conducted, if one is called, in Section 3 of Article XIII:

...the general assembly shall, upon roll call, by a yea vote of at least two-thirds of the total membership of each house, prescribe by law the manner of selection of the membership of such convention, the date of convening of such convention, which shall be not later than one year from the date of the roll call vote under Section 1 of this article or one year from the date of the election under Section 2 of this article, as the case may be, and the date for final adjournment of such convention.

Delaware

Main article: Article XVI, Delaware Constitution

Section 2 of Article XVI provides a number of very specific details governing the conduct of a any constitutional conventions held in Delaware:

...Such Convention shall be composed of forty-one delegates, one of whom shall be chosen from each Representative District by the qualified electors thereof, and two of whom shall be chosen from New Castle County, two from Kent County and two from Sussex County by the qualified electors thereof respectively. The delegates so chosen shall convene at the Capital of the State on the first Tuesday in September next after their election. Every delegate shall receive for his services such compensation as shall be provided by law. A majority of the Convention shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. The Convention shall have power to appoint such officers, employees and assistants as it may deem necessary, and fix their compensation, and provide for the printing of its documents, journals, debates and proceedings. The Convention shall determine the rules of its proceedings, and be the judge of the elections, returns and qualification of its members. Whenever there shall be a vacancy in the office of delegate from any district or county by reason of failure to elect, ineligibility, death, resignation or otherwise, a writ of election to fill such vacancy shall be issued by the Governor, and such vacancy shall be filled by the qualified electors of such district or county.

Florida

Main article: Article XI, Florida Constitution

Section 4 grants the people the right to put a question on the ballot as to whether a convention shall be called. The question asked is, "Shall a constitutional convention be held?" (In order to put that question on the ballot, more signatures need to be collected than are required to qualify a standard initiated constitutional amendment for the ballot.)

Section 4 of Article XI also gives some details about how such a convention would operate:

...If a majority voting on the question votes in the affirmative, at the next succeeding general election there shall be elected from each representative district a member of a constitutional convention. On the twenty-first day following that election, the convention shall sit at the capital, elect officers, adopt rules of procedure, judge the election of its membership, and fix a time and place for its future meetings. Not later than ninety days before the next succeeding general election, the convention shall cause to be filed with the custodian of state records any revision of this constitution proposed by it.

Georgia

Main article: Article X, Georgia Constitution

Paragraph IV of Article X says 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. Paragraph IV describes how a convention is to be called, and describes how proposals coming out of such a convention are to be addressed by the state's voters, but says very little about how the convention itself would be governed, setting only one parameter:

...The representation in said convention shall be based on population as near as practicable.

Hawaii

Main article: Article XVII, Hawaii Constitution

A constitutional convention can be held in Hawaii 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.

Section 2 of Article XVII gives a considerable amount of detail about a convention would be organized and conducted:

Election of Delegates

If a majority of the ballots cast upon such a question be in the affirmative, delegates to the convention shall be chosen at the next regular election unless the legislature shall provide for the election of delegates at a special election.

Notwithstanding any provision in this constitution to the contrary, other than Section 3 of Article XVI, any qualified voter of the district concerned shall be eligible to membership in the convention.

The legislature shall provide for the number of delegates to the convention, the areas from which they shall be elected and the manner in which the convention shall convene. The legislature shall also provide for the necessary facilities and equipment for the convention. The convention shall have the same powers and privileges, as nearly as practicable, as provided for the convention of 1978.

Meeting

The constitutional convention shall convene not less than five months prior to the next regularly scheduled general election.

Organization; Procedure

The convention shall determine its own organization and rules of procedure. It shall be the sole judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of its members and, by a two-thirds vote, may suspend or remove any member for cause. The governor shall fill any vacancy by appointment of a qualified voter from the district concerned.

Ratification; Appropriations

The convention shall provide for the time and manner in which the proposed constitutional revision or amendments shall be submitted to a vote of the electorate; provided that each amendment shall be submitted in the form of a question embracing but one subject; and provided further, that each question shall have designated spaces to mark YES or NO on the amendment.

At least thirty days prior to the submission of any proposed revision or amendments, the convention shall make available for public inspection, a full text of the proposed amendments. Every public library, office of the clerk of each county, and the chief election officer shall be provided such texts and shall make them available for public inspection. The full text of any proposed revision or amendments shall also be made available for inspection at every polling place on the day of the election at which such revision or amendments are submitted.

The convention shall, as provided by law, be responsible for a program of voter education concerning each proposed revision or amendment to be submitted to the electorate.

The revision or amendments shall be effective only if approved at a general election by a majority of all the votes tallied upon the question, this majority constituting at least fifty per cent of the total vote cast at the election, or at a special election by a majority of all the votes tallied upon the question, this majority constituting at least thirty per cent of the total number of registered voters.

The provisions of this section shall be self-executing, but the legislature shall make the necessary appropriations and may enact legislation to facilitate their operation.

Idaho

Main article: Article XX, Idaho Constitution

According to Section 3 of Article XX of the Idaho Constitution, 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, and if a majority of the voters voting at the election vote in favor.

Section 3 specifies very little about how such a convention would be organized or governed, saying only:


...the legislature shall at the next session provide by law for calling the same; and such convention shall consist of a number of members, not less than double the number of the most numerous branch of the legislature.

Illinois

Main article: Article XIV, Illinois Constitution

Section 1 of Article XIV says that a constitutional convention can be held in Illinois if 60% of the members of both houses of the Illinois General Assembly vote to place such a question on the ballot. Section 1 also dictates that every twenty years, the question of whether to hold a convention must be automatically referred to a statewide ballot. A supermajority vote is required to call the convention of "three-fifths of those voting on the question or a majority of those voting in the election."

Section 1 also lays out some significant details of how the convention would be organized and governed in subsections (d), (e) and (f).


(d) The General Assembly, at the session following approval by the electors, by law shall provide for the Convention and for the election of two delegates from each Legislative District; designate the time and place of the Convention's first meeting which shall be within three months after the election of delegates; fix and provide for the pay of delegates and officers; and provide for expenses necessarily incurred by the Convention.

(e) To be eligible to be a delegate a person must meet the same eligibility requirements as a member of the General Assembly. Vacancies shall be filled as provided by law.

(f) The Convention shall prepare such revision of or amendments to the Constitution as it deems necessary. Any proposed revision or amendments approved by a majority of the delegates elected shall be submitted to the electors in such manner as the Convention determines, at an election designated or called by the Convention occurring not less than two nor more than six months after the Convention's adjournment. Any revision or amendments proposed by the Convention shall be published with explanations, as the Convention provides, at least one month preceding the election.

Indiana

No provisions are available under the Indiana Constitution for calling a constitutional convention.

Iowa

Main article: Article X, Iowa Constitution

Iowans can hold a constitutional conventions under these conditions:

If it is decided that a convention will take place, the Section 3 of Article X says only:


...the general assembly, at its next session, shall provide by law for the election of delegates to such convention, and for submitting the results of said convention to the people, in such manner and at such time as the general assembly shall provide...

Kansas

Main article: Article 14, Kansas Constitution

If two-thirds of the members of each house of the Kansas 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.

Section 2 of Article 14 goes into a fair amount of detail about the specifics of calling and organizing such a convention:


...delegates to such convention shall be elected at the next election for representatives thereafter, unless the legislature shall have provided by law for the election of such delegates at a special election. The electors of each representative district as organized at the time of such election of delegates shall elect as many delegates to the convention as there are representatives from such district. Such delegates shall have the same qualifications as provided by the constitution for members of the legislature and members of the legislature and candidates for membership in the legislature shall be eligible for election as delegates to the convention. The delegates so elected shall convene at the state capital on the first Tuesday in May next following such election or at an earlier date if provided by law.

The convention shall have power to choose its own officers, appoint and remove its employees and fix their compensation, determine its rules, judge the qualifications of its members, and carry on the business of the convention in an orderly manner. Each delegate shall receive such compensation as provided by law. A vacancy in the office of any delegate shall be filled as provided by law.

The convention shall have power to amend or revise all or that part of the constitution indicated by the question voted upon to call the convention, subject to ratification by the electors. No proposed constitution, or amendment or revision of an existing constitution, shall be submitted by the convention to the electors unless it has been available to the delegates in final form at least three days on which the convention is in session, prior to final passage, and receives the assent of a majority of all the delegates. The yeas and nays upon final passage of any proposal, and upon any question upon request of one-tenth of the delegates present, shall be entered in the journal of the convention.

Proposals of the convention shall be submitted to the electors at the first general or special statewide election occurring not less than two months after final action thereon by the convention, and shall take effect in accordance with the provisions thereof in such form and with such notice as is directed by the convention upon receiving the approval of a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon.

Kentucky

Main article: Mode of Revision, Kentucky Constitution

A constitutional convention can be called in Kentucky if:

  • A majority of all the members of each of the two chambers of the Kentucky 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".

The Kentucky Constitution also provides some rules for how to go about setting up and managing that convention, to wit:


(Partial) text of Section 258: Constitutional Convention -- How proposed, voted upon, and called.

...If it shall appear that a majority voting on the proposition was for calling a Convention... the Secretary of State shall certify the same to the General Assembly at its next regular session, at which session a law shall be enacted calling a Convention to readopt, revise or amend this Constitution, and such amendments as may have been made thereto.


Text of Section 259: Number and qualifications of delegates

The Convention shall consist of as many delegates as there are members of the House of Representatives; and the delegates shall have the same qualifications and be elected from the same districts as said Representatives.


Text of Section 260: Election of delegates -- meeting.

Delegates to such Convention shall be elected at the next general State election after the passage of the act calling the Convention, which does not occur within less than ninety days; and they shall meet within ninety days after their election at the Capital of the State, and continue in session until their work is completed.


Text of Section 261: Certification of election and compensation of delegates.

The General Assembly, in the act calling the Convention, shall provide for comparing the polls and giving certificates of election to the delegates elected, and provide for their compensation.


Text of Section 262: Determination of election and qualifications of delegates -- Contests.

The Convention, when assembled, shall be the judge of the election and qualification of its members, and shall determine contested elections. But the General Assembly shall, in the act calling the Convention, provide for taking testimony in such cases, and for issuing a writ of election in case of a tie.

Louisiana

Main article: Article XIII, Louisiana Constitution

Two-thirds of the members of both houses of the Louisiana State Legislature can call for a constitutional convention, and the state legislature can also directly call a convention without having to submit the question of whether or not to hold one to the state's voters.

However, the Louisiana Constitution says nothing about how to go about calling a convention, or how to govern one that is called.

Maine

See also: Article IV--Part Third, Maine Constitution

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.[1]

However, the constitution says nothing about how to go about calling a convention, or how to govern one that is called.

Maryland

Main article: Article XIV, Maryland 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.

The Maryland Constitution also provides some guidance about organizational details of any such convention that might be called:


...if a majority of voters at such election or elections shall vote for a Convention, the General Assembly, at its next session, shall provide by Law for the assembling of such convention, and for the election of Delegates thereto. Each County, and Legislative District of the City of Baltimore, shall have in such Convention a number of Delegates equal to its representation in both Houses at the time at which the Convention is called...

Massachusetts

Main article: Article XLVIII, Amendments to the Massachusetts Constitution

Michigan

Main article: Article XII, Michigan Constitution

Section 3 of Article XII says that a question about whether to hold a constitutional convention is to automatically appear on the state's ballot every sixteen years.


...If a majority of the electors voting on the question decide in favor of a convention for such purpose...the electors of each representative district as then organized shall elect one delegate and the electors of each senatorial district as then organized shall elect one delegate at a partisan election. The delegates so elected shall convene at the seat of government on the first Tuesday in October next succeeding such election or at an earlier date if provided by law.

Convention officers, rules, membership, personnel, publications.

The convention shall choose its own officers, determine the rules of its proceedings and judge the qualifications, elections and returns of its members. To fill a vacancy in the office of any delegate, the governor shall appoint a qualified resident of the same district who shall be a member of the same party as the delegate vacating the office. The convention shall have power to appoint such officers, employees and assistants as it deems necessary and to fix their compensation; to provide for the printing and distribution of its documents, journals and proceedings; to explain and disseminate information about the proposed constitution and to complete the business of the convention in an orderly manner. Each delegate shall receive for his services compensation provided by law.

Minnesota

Main article: Article IX, Minnesota Constitution

Section 3 of Article IX lays out the procedures for holding a convention. 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 constitutional amendment law is that it takes a higher percentage vote (60%) to approve amendments proposed by a constitutional convention than amendments proposed by the legislature.

Section 2 of Article IX provides some detail about how to organize the convention:


If a majority of all the electors voting at the election vote for a convention, the legislature at its next session, shall provide by law for calling the convention. The convention shall consist of as many delegates as there are members of the house of representatives. Delegates shall be chosen in the same manner as members of the house of representatives and shall meet within three months after their election.

Mississippi

See also: Article XV, Mississippi Constitution

Mississippi's Constitution includes no provisions for holding a constitutional convention.

Missouri

See also: Article XII, Missouri Constitution

Section 3a of Article XII says that a qestion about whether to hold a constitutional convention is to automatically appear on the state's ballot every twenty years.

Section 3a also includes a fairly detailed scenario for how delegates to the convention are to be selected:


...the governor shall call an election of delegates to the convention on a day not less than three nor more than six months after the election on the question. At the election the electors of the state shall elect fifteen delegates-at-large and the electors of each state senatorial district shall elect two delegates. Each delegate shall possess the qualifications of a senator; and no person holding any other office of trust or profit (officers of the organized militia, school directors, justices of the peace and notaries public excepted) shall be eligible to be elected a delegate. To secure representation from different political parties in each senatorial district, in the manner prescribed by its senatorial district committee each political party shall nominate but one candidate for delegate from each senatorial district, the certificate of nomination shall be filed in the office of the secretary of state at least thirty days before the election, each candidate shall be voted for on a separate ballot bearing the party designation, each elector shall vote for but one of the candidates, and the two candidates receiving the highest number of votes in each senatorial district shall be elected. Candidates for delegates-at-large shall be nominated by nominating petitions only, which shall be signed by electors of the state equal to five percent of the legal voters in the senatorial district in which the candidate resides until otherwise provided by law, and shall be verified as provided by law for initiative petitions, and filed in the office of the secretary of state at least thirty days before the election. All such candidates shall be voted for on a separate ballot without party designation, and the fifteen receiving the highest number of votes shall be elected. Not less than fifteen days before the election, the secretary of state shall certify to the county clerk of the county the name of each person nominated for the office of delegate from the senatorial district in which the county, or any part of it, is included, and the names of all persons nominated for delegates-at-large.

Section 3b includes even more detail:


Text of Section 3(b):

Convention of Delegates—-Quarters—-Oath—-Compensation—-Quorum—-Vote Required-—Organization, Employees, Printing—-Public Sessions—-Rules—-Vacancies

The delegates so elected shall be convened at the seat of government by proclamation of the governor within six months after their election. The facilities of the legislative chambers and legislative quarters shall be made available for the convention and the delegates. Upon convening all delegates shall take an oath or affirmation to support the Constitution of the United States and of the state of Missouri, and to discharge faithfully their duties as delegates to the convention, and shall receive for their services the sum of ten dollars per diem and mileage as provided by law for members of the general assembly. A majority of the delegates shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and no constitution or amendment to this constitution shall be submitted to the electors for approval or rejection unless by the assent of a majority of all the delegates-elect, the yeas and nays being entered on the journal. The convention may appoint such officers, employees and assistants as it may deem necessary, fix their compensation, provide for the printing of its documents, journals, proceedings and a record of its debates, and appropriate money for the expenditures incurred. The sessions of the convention shall be held with open doors, and it shall determine the rules of its own proceedings, choose its own officers, and be the judge of the election, returns and qualifications of its delegates. In case of a vacancy by death, resignation or other cause, the vacancy shall be filled by the governor by the appointment of another delegate of the political party of the delegate causing the vacancy.

Montana

See also: Article XIV, Montana Constitution

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 Constitution also pays a fair amount of attention to how such a convention would be called and governed.

Section 4 of Article XIV says:


Text of Section 4:

Call of Convention

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. The number of delegates to the convention shall be the same as that of the larger body of the legislature. The qualifications of delegates shall be the same as the highest qualifications required for election to the legislature. The legislature shall determine whether the delegates may be nominated on a partisan or a non-partisan basis. They shall be elected at the same places and in the same districts as are the members of the legislative body determining the number of delegates.

Section 5 of Article XIV says:


Text of Section 5:

Convention Expenses

The legislature shall, in the act calling the convention, designate the day, hour, and place of its meeting, and fix and provide for the pay of its members and officers and the necessary expenses of the convention.

Section 6 of Article XIV says:


Text of Section 6:

Oath, Vacancies

Before proceeding, the delegates shall take the oath provided in this constitution. Vacancies occurring shall be filled in the manner provided for filling vacancies in the legislature if not otherwise provided by law.

And Section 7 of Article XIV says:


Text of Section 7:

Convention Duties

The convention shall meet after the election of the delegates and prepare such revisions, alterations, or amendments to the constitution as may be deemed necessary. They shall be submitted to the qualified electors for ratification or rejection as a whole or in separate articles or amendments as determined by the convention at an election appointed by the convention for that purpose not less than two months after adjournment. Unless so submitted and approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, no such revision, alteration, or amendment shall take effect.

Nebraska

See also: Article XVI, Nebraska Constitution

A constitutional convention can be held to "revise, amend, or change" the Nebraska 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.

The state's constitution gives some guidance on how such a convention would be called and governed, in Section 2 of Article XVI:


...if a majority of the electors voting on the proposition, vote for a convention, the Legislature shall, at its next session provide by law for calling the same; Provided, the votes cast in favor of calling a convention shall not be less than thirty-five per cent of the total votes cast at such election. The convention shall consist of not more than one hundred members, the exact number to be determined by the Legislature, and to be nominated and elected from districts in the manner to be prescribed by the Legislature. Such members shall meet within three months after their election, for the purpose aforesaid...

Nevada

See also: Article 16, Nevada 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."

However, the Nevada Constitution doesn't have a lot to say about how such a convention would be managed, specifying only two details, (a) a time frame within which the convention must begin and (b) that the number of delegates to the convention can't be less than the number of members of both chambers of the Nevada State Legislature:


...if it shall appear that a majority of the electors voting at such election, shall have voted in favor of calling a Convention, the Legislature shall, at its next session provide by law for calling a Convention to be holden within six months after the passage of such law, and such Convention shall consist of a number of Members not less than that of both branches of the Legislature.

New Hampshire

See also: Article 100 of the New Hampshire 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.

Article 100 also provides some detail on how a convention must be organized and conducted:


(b)...If a majority of the qualified voters voting on the question of holding a convention approves it, delegates shall be chosen at the next regular general election, or at such earlier time as the legislature may provide, in the same manner and proportion as the representatives to the general court are chosen. The delegates so chosen shall convene at such time as the legislature may direct and may recess from time to time and make such rules for the conduct of their convention as they may determine.

(c) The constitutional convention may propose amendments by a three-fifths vote of the entire membership of the convention.

New Jersey

See also: Article IX, New Jersey Constitution

New Jersey is one of six states that has no provision for a constitutional convention.

New Mexico

See also: Article XIX, New Mexico Constitution

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.

With respect to procedures, Section 2 of Article XIX speaks only to the issue of how many delegates such a convention must have; namely, "at least as many...as there are members of" the New Mexico House of Representatives.


...if a majority of all the electors voting on such questions at said election in the state votes in favor of calling a convention, the legislature shall, at the next session, provide by law for calling the same. Such convention shall consist of at least as many delegates as there are members of the house of representatives...

New York

See also: Article XIX, New York Constitution

According to Section 2 of Article XIX, a question as to whether there shall be a convention is to appear on New York's 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.

Section 2 of Article XIX also specifies a number of other details as to how a convention would be handled:


...in case a majority of the electors voting thereon shall decide in favor of a convention for such purpose, the electors of every senate district of the state, as then organized, shall elect three delegates at the next ensuing general election, and the electors of the state voting at the same election shall elect fifteen delegates-at-large. The delegates so elected shall convene at the capitol on the first Tuesday of April next ensuing after their election, and shall continue their session until the business of such convention shall have been completed. Every delegate shall receive for his or her services the same compensation as shall then be annually payable to the members of the assembly and be reimbursed for actual traveling expenses, while the convention is in session, to the extent that a member of the assembly would then be entitled thereto in the case of a session of the legislature. A majority of the convention shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and no amendment to the constitution shall be submitted for approval to the electors as hereinafter provided, unless by the assent of a majority of all the delegates elected to the convention, the ayes and noes being entered on the journal to be kept. The convention shall have the power to appoint such officers, employees and assistants as it may deem necessary, and fix their compensation and to provide for the printing of its documents, journal, proceedings and other expenses of said convention. The convention shall determine the rules of its own proceedings, choose its own officers, and be the judge of the election, returns and qualifications of its members. In case of a vacancy, by death, resignation or other cause, of any district delegate elected to the convention, such vacancy shall be filled by a vote of the remaining delegates representing the district in which such vacancy occurs. If such vacancy occurs in the office of a delegate-at-large, such vacancy shall be filled by a vote of the remaining delegates-at-large. Any proposed constitution or constitutional amendment which shall have been adopted by such convention, shall be submitted to a vote of the electors of the state at the time and in the manner provided by such convention, at an election which shall be held not less than six weeks after the adjournment of such convention. Upon the approval of such constitution or constitutional amendments, in the manner provided in the last preceding section, such constitution or constitutional amendment, shall go into effect on the first day of January next after such approval.

North Carolina

See also: Article XIII, North Carolina Constitution

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.

Section 1 is explicit about a procedure for limiting the topics that can be addressed in a convention, if one is called. It also specifies the number of delegates to the convention, and the manner of apportioning them.


...If a majority of the votes cast upon the proposition are in favor of a Convention, it shall assemble on the day prescribed by the General Assembly. The General Assembly shall, in the act submitting the convention proposition, propose limitations upon the authority of the Convention; and if a majority of the votes cast upon the proposition are in favor of a Convention, those limitations shall become binding upon the Convention. Delegates to the Convention shall be elected by the qualified voters at the time and in the manner prescribed in the act of submission. The Convention shall consist of a number of delegates equal to the membership of the House of Representatives of the General Assembly that submits the convention proposition and the delegates shall be apportioned as is the House of Representatives. A Convention shall adopt no ordinance not necessary to the purpose for which the Convention has been called.

North Dakota

See also: Article III, North Dakota Constitution

Section 1 of Article III explicitly says that the state's 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 1 of Article III gives no detail at all about how a convention would be called or governed, except to note:


...This article is self-executing and all of its provisions are mandatory. Laws may be enacted to facilitate and safeguard, but not to hamper, restrict, or impair these powers.

Ohio

See also: Section 1a, Article II, Ohio Constitution and Article XVI, Ohio Constitution

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.

Section 2 of Article XVI provides these details:


...if a majority of all the electors, voting for and against the calling of a convention, shall have voted for a convention, the General Assembly shall, at their next session, provide, by law, for calling the same. Candidates for members of the constitutional convention shall be nominated by nominating petitions only and shall be voted for upon one independent and separate ballot without any emblem or party designation whatever. The convention shall consist of as many members as the House of Representatives, who shall be chosen as provided by law, and shall meet within three months after their election, for the purpose, aforesaid.

Oklahoma

See also: Article XXIV, Oklahoma Constitution

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.

Section 2 says that if a convention is held:


...any amendments, alterations, revisions, or new Constitution, proposed by such convention, shall be submitted to the electors of the State at a general or special election and be approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon, before the same shall become effective...

Oregon

See also: Article XVII, Oregon Constitution

Section 1 of Article XVIII 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

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.)[2]

Rhode Island

Main article: Article XIV, Rhode Island 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.

Section 2 of Article 14 goes on:


...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. If a majority of the electors voting at such election on said question shall vote to hold a convention, the general assembly at its next session shall provide by law for the election of delegates to such convention. The number of delegates shall be equal to the number of members of the house of representatives and shall be apportioned in the same manner as the members of the house of representatives. No revision or amendment of this constitution agreed upon by such convention shall take effect until the same has been submitted to the electors and approved by a majority of those voting thereon.

South Carolina

Main article: Article XVI, South Carolina Constitution

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.

Section 3 of Article XVI says:


Whenever two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the General Assembly shall think it necessary to call a Convention to revise, amend or change this Constitution, they shall recommend to the electors to vote for or against a Convention at the next election for Representatives; and if a majority of all the electors voting at said election shall have voted for a Convention, the General Assembly shall, at its next session, provide by law for calling the same; and 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

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.

Section 2 of Article XXIII says:


A convention to revise this Constitution may be called by a three-fourths vote of all the members of each house. The calling of a constitutional convention may be initiated and submitted to the voters in the same manner as an amendment. If a majority of the voters voting thereon approve the calling of a convention, the Legislature shall provide for the holding thereof. Members of a convention shall be elected on a nonpolitical ballot in the same districts and in the same number as the house of representatives. Proposed amendments or revisions approved by a majority of all the members of the convention shall be submitted to the electorate at a special election in a manner to be determined by the convention.

Tennessee

Main article: Section 3 of Article XI of the Tennessee Constitution

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."

Section 3 of Article XI also says:


...when, upon such submission, a majority of all the voters voting upon the proposal submitted shall approve the proposal to call a convention, the delegates to such convention shall be chosen at the next general election and the convention shall assemble for the consideration of such proposals as shall have received a favorable vote in said election, in such mode and manner as shall be prescribed. No change in, or amendment to, this Constitution proposed by such convention shall become effective, unless within the limitations of the call of the convention, and unless approved and ratified by a majority of the qualified voters voting separately on such change or amendment at an election to be held in such manner and on such date as may be fixed by the convention...

Texas

Article 17, Texas Constitution

The Texas Constitution is one of six state constitutions that do not explicitly make provisions for holding any state constitutional conventions.

Utah

Main article: Article XXIII, Utah Constitution

To have a constitutional convention in Utah:

  • 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.

If a convention is held and amendments are proposed by the 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 vote in that election.

Section 2 of Article XXIII says in relevant part:


...Whenever two-thirds of the members, elected to each branch of the Legislature, shall deem it necessary to call a convention to revise or amend this Constitution, they shall recommend to the electors to vote, at the next general election, for or against a convention, and, if a majority of all the electors, voting at such election, shall vote for a convention, the Legislature, at its next session, shall provide by law for calling the same. The convention shall consist of not less than the number of members in both branches of the Legislature.

Vermont

Main article: Amendment of the Constitution, Vermont 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.

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.

Virginia

Main article: Article XII, Virginia Constitution

Section 2 of Article XII governs constitutional conventions in Virginia. 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.

Section 2 says:


The General Assembly may, by a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each house, call a convention to propose a general revision of, or specific amendments to, this Constitution, as the General Assembly in its call may stipulate.

The General Assembly shall provide by law for the election of delegates to such a convention, and shall also provide for the submission, in such manner as it shall prescribe and not sooner than ninety days after final adjournment of the convention, of the proposals of the convention to the voters qualified to vote in elections by the people. If a majority of those voting vote in favor of any proposal, it shall become effective on the date prescribed by the General Assembly in providing for the submission of the convention proposals to the voters.

Washington

Article XXIII, Washington State Constitution


Whenever two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the legislature shall deem it necessary to call a convention to revise or amend this Constitution, they shall recommend to the electors to vote at the next general election, for or against a convention, and if a majority of all the electors voting at said election shall have voted for a convention, the legislature shall at the next session, provide by law for calling the same; and such convention shall consist of a number of members, not less than that of the most numerous branch of the legislature.

West Virginia

Main article: Article XIV, West Virginia Constitution

Section 1 of Article XIV says in relevant part:


...And such convention shall not be held unless a majority of the votes cast at such polls be in favor of calling the same; nor shall the members be elected to such convention, until, at least, one month after the result of the vote shall be duly ascertained, declared and published. And all acts and ordinances of the said convention shall be submitted to the voters of the State for ratification or rejection, and shall have no validity whatever until they are ratified

Wisconsin

See also: Article XII, Wisconsin Constitution

Section 2 of Article XII says:


If at any time a majority of the senate and assembly shall deem it necessary to call a convention to revise or change this constitution, they shall recommend to the electors to vote for or against a convention at the next election for members of the legislature. And if it shall appear that a majority of the electors voting thereon have voted for a convention, the legislature shall, at its next session, provide for calling such convention.

Wyoming

Main article: Article 20, Wyoming Constitution

Section 3 of Article 20 says:


Whenever two-thirds of the members elected to each branch of the legislature shall deem it necessary to call a convention to revise or amend this constitution, they shall recommend to the electors to vote at the next general election for or against a convention, and if a majority of all the electors voting at such election shall have voted for a convention, the legislature shall at the next session provide by law for calling the same; and such convention shall consist of a number of members, not less than double that of the most numerous branch of the legislature.

References