Abstentions doom constitutional convention measure

A ballot question to convene a convention to revise the state's constitution was supported by 55 percent of those who voted on the referendum, but the measure appears to have failed because too many voters abstained.

For a convention to be called, the number of people voting "yes" would need to be more than 50 percent of the total number of Marylanders who voted overall.

Although 55 percent, or about 845,021 voters, were in favor of calling a convention, outnumbering the 703,426 who opposed, 191,548 voters did not vote on the question, essentially voting down the measure, according to preliminary figures from the Maryland State Board of Elections on Thursday.

In several elections, including in 1950, more people voted in favor of a convention than voted against, but the measure still did not win support from a majority of all voters.

The referendum is called every 20 years in Maryland, with the last convention being called in 1968, after the Supreme Court ruled that Maryland's legislative districts were unconstitutional, but the changes from that convention were rejected by voters.

While amendments have been made to the 150-year-old Maryland Constitution, many say the document is too long and difficult to follow, and in some cases includes unnecessary sections, like off-street parking rules in Baltimore City.


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