Hawaii voters say ‘no’ to constitutional convention

Hawaii voters say ‘no’ to constitutional convention
(Dennis Fujimoto /The Garden Island via AP) (Dennis Fujimoto)

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii overwhelmingly voted down a proposed constitutional convention Tuesday.

Heading into the general election, several prominent groups came out against the idea, including the Sierra Club, ACLU, Chamber of Commerce and Hawaii State Teachers Association.

Another reason voters might not have supported the idea: A constitutional convention would be pricey. The Legislature Reference Bureau estimated the process could cost as much as $56 million.

The question on the general election ballot: “Shall there be a convention to propose a revision of or amendments to the Constitution?”

In addition to outright “no” votes, blank or flawed votes also count as “no” votes.

The last time Hawaii held a constitutional convention was in 1978.

And that convention, called the “People’s Con Con,” dramatically reshaped the state’s governing document, giving constitutional recognition to Native Hawaiians, establishing the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and adopting Hawaiian as an official language in the islands.

“The ’78 Con Con produced one of the most progressive constitutions in the United States,” said HNN political analyst Colin Moore.

Opponents of holding another constitutional convention said there’s just too much to lose.

“Folks are worried that there’s going to be an erosion of protections for Native Hawaiian rights. There are concerns about special interests,” Moore said.

Supporters, meanwhile, said a constitutional convention could tackle key issues facing the islands.

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