Unnecessary: A Convention is the wrong way to Amend our Constitution

The Constitution has an amendment process that should be used for targeted changes to Alaska's founding document.

The Constitution has an amendment process that should be used for targeted changes to Alaska’s founding document.

The Alaska Constitution requires our state government to ask Alaskans every 10 years if we want to hold a constitutional convention. This is a good thing – it is an important safeguard of our democracy for voters to regularly ask if our government is functioning properly to protect our rights, strengthen our economy, and continue advancing our state.

Yet, a constitutional convention is not routine politics or legal housekeeping. It allows for broad reconsideration of the entire founding document.

When Alaskans want to revise, add, or remove a provision of the Consitution, we have an amendment mechanism built into it, and it works. For more than six decades, Alaskans have depended on constitutional amendments to change laws without changing the nature of our government.

An amendment is a precision tool. A constitutional convention is a sledgehammer capable of breaking the foundation of who we are.

The upcoming vote is our chance to say we have faith in Alaska’s Constitution and – at this time – a constitutional convention is unnecessary.

How we currently amend the Alaska Constitution

The Alaska Constitution includes an amendment mechanism modeled on the United States Constitution. It was designed to require a high standard of support from both elected officials and voters to ensure Alaskans can be fully informed about changes to our laws and have plenty of time to think about them, discuss them, and approve or reject them.

The United States and Alaska constitutions require two-thirds of both the House of Representatives and Senate to support any amendment. A proposed amendment can then become law only if it is approved by a vote of we the people. This is a reliable process with a decades-long record of allowing Alaskans to successfully update the state Constitution to match our values and keep pace with our modernizing world.

Perhaps most important, it is a powerful way to prevent one person or group from making sudden or existential changes to our rights while also ensuring Alaskans have awareness and approval of any changes. Some changes are good ideas, while others might not be.

In the last 60 years, Alaskans have voted to approve amendments to our state Constitution 28 times and rejected amendments 13 times.

What is the difference?

An amendment is specific to one section or area of the Constitution, but a constitutional convention can result in changes to the very principles and values that govern every aspect of our lives and guarantee our fundamental rights.

The Alaska Constitution states that a convention “shall have plenary power to amend or revise the constitution…”

In less-formal language, that means a convention will have full power to propose changes to anything or everything in our state Constitution.

There simply is no logical reason to take our entire Constitution back to the drawing board and open it up to wholesale changes that may result in laws infringing our rights or favoring a radical group or Outside organization.

Alaskans should be in control of Alaska’s laws – and only Alaskans. Not outsiders. And it’s the amendment process our state founders built into the Constitution that gives us that control.

Vote no to a constitutional convention

The Alaska Constitution is strong, has stood the test of time, and gives Alaskans stability, equal rights, and a safe, reliable way to update individual laws.

Since 1956, we have voted against holding a constitutional convention five times. Let’s make this year the sixth– and stand together once again to protect our Constitution and the foundation of our rights as Alaskans.