Alaska voters reject constitutional convention

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — Alaska voters have overwhelmingly rejected calling a state constitutional convention.

The question of whether to call a convention appears on the ballot every 10 years. It has in the past been defeated in lopsided votes and gotten little attention.

But supporters of a convention saw an opening this year amid public frustration with the years-long legislative fights over what size the annual check paid to residents from Alaska’s oil-wealth fund should be. Some hoped a convention would be the place to advocate for abortion restrictions or changes in how Alaska judges are picked, proposed changes they’ve been unable to advance in the state Legislature.

Convention supporters argued there is no harm in calling a convention because any proposed changes would have to go to voters for approval. But convention opponents said calling a convention was unnecessary and risky and that there is a more targeted way to seek changes to the state constitution – with two-thirds support in each the House and Senate and a vote of the people.

One opposition group, Defend Our Constitution, reported raising more than $4.5 million in its bid to defeat the measure.

Had it passed, the Alaska ballot question would have led to the first constitutional convention in the state since the original convention in the 1950s.

Voters in Missouri and New Hampshire also rejected calling a constitutional convention in their respective states.