Alaska’s Constitution was adopted by a Constitutional Convention on Feb. 5, 1956 and became operative with the Proclamation of Alaska Statehood on January 3, 1959.
This constitution includes a voter’s right to determine every decade if the state should hold a new constitutional convention. The Nov. 8, 2022 ballot presents the mandated opportunity to approve or reject such a gathering to change Alaska’s foremost document.
When considering this question, I found that the authors of the 1956 constitution had a visionary understanding that a constitution written in 1956 may not represent future needs. Their inclusion of a voter’s option to approve a constitutional convention is a failsafe way to amend the constitution if elected representatives fail, through the legislative process, to offer amendments to address pressing issues before Alaska.
I found the current system for the Legislature to offer constitutional amendments for voter action works very well. Since 1966 a total of 42 legislative constitutional amendments have been proposed. Voters ratified 28. Approved amendments include establishing the Alaska voter age of 18, residency requirements for voting, prohibition on sexual discrimination and authorization of the Permanent Fund.
Based on the effectiveness of the focused legislative ratification and voter approval process I conclude a constitutional convention is not necessary. Further a convention is ambiguous including selection of conventioneers, costs and because a convention offers little chance for robust public involvement compared to the legislative amendment process. I am voting no on a convention.