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Oct. 4, 2002, The Voice of the Times urges a 'no' vote on constitutional convention

Posted: Monday, October 07, 2002

Voters at the Nov. 5 general election will be asked whether Alaska should convene a constitutional convention. We urge all to vote ''No.''

By law, the question must be placed on the ballot every 10 years. So far, the answer has always been negative, an encouraging and appropriate response.

Alaska's Constitution is not perfect. It has been amended 27 times. But, so what? The framers knew they could not foresee the state's future needs or what weaknesses might be found as the Constitution was tested by time.

They wrote the document -- and voters approved -- with the full knowledge that modifications would later be necessary. A state's constitution is supposed to be a living document that can be adjusted to meet contemporary challenges.

But, when change is needed, the best way by far is to put one question at a time before the electorate in a proposed amendment. That way a full and open discussion can be conducted on each issue before election day.

Holding a constitutional convention would open a can of worms by putting the possibility of a full-scale rewrite on the table. It would be an invitation to every special-interest group to lobby and finagle for its favorite cause.

And with multiple changes on the ballot, thoughtful discussion of the range of issues would be difficult, if not impossible. The chance of making bad decisions that could damage the state's future would be significant.

The very grave risk of a constitutional convention is that mischief would prevail and the public interest perverted.



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