Ten more years.

That’s likely how long it’ll be before Hawaii voters get another chance to call a state constitutional convention.

The ConCon ballot measure was way behind as returns rolled in Tuesday night with 69.1 percent “no” votes to 23.7 percent “yes votes. Blank ballots (7.2 percent) also count as “no” votes.

A ConCon would have provided a chance for elected delegates to do something that usually only state legislators can do: propose amendments to the Hawaii constitution that voters would then decide on.

Supporters said a ConCon offered a rare opportunity to achieve reforms that the Legislature has been unwilling to make, such as establishing a statewide citizen initiative process and term limits for legislators.

Opponents said it could imperil reforms made at previous ConCons, such as the collective bargaining rights of public employee unions and establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.

Lei bedecked bronze hand of Queen Liliuokalani on the makai side of the Hawaii State Capitol building.
A constitutional convention would have given elected delegates power that is otherwise exercised only inside the State Capitol. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

All the campaign money spent on the measure — $665,000 as of last week — was in opposition, according to reports submitted to the state Campaign Spending Commission. Most of that money came from public employee unions.

A recent Civil Beat poll found support for the concept of a ConCon, even though a majority of respondents said they planned to vote “no” on the actual measure.

About That ConAm

The poll also found support for proposals that could emerge from a ConCon, such as term limits for legislators, a state lottery, and establishment of a statewide citizen initiative, referendum and recall process.

In essence, a ConCon allows elected convention delegates to go over the heads of the Legislature, even though state lawmakers get to decide when and how many delegates are elected, where the event is held and its budget.

The current constitution requires that voters be given the option of calling a ConCon at least once every 10 years. The Legislature has the power to call one sooner, but is unlikely to do so.

The last ConCon was held in 1978.

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