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During the 1960s, the legislature made numerous attempts to modernize the North Dakota Constitution but these efforts were defeated at the polls. Sponsors felt that the public was not being informed about the need for modernization so they persuaded the legislature to propose the calling of a special constitutional convention. The proposal was approved by the people in the 1970 primary election.
Beginning in January, 1972, the delegates convened as a body to work through the constitution. Upon the completion of the work, 91 of the 94 delegates present and voting approved the proposed constitution and it was submitted to the voters at the special election in May, 1972.
In spite of the near-unanimous support in the convention, the proposed constitution was soundly defeated, with 63 percent voting “no” and 37 percent voting “yes.”
Supporters of modernizing the constitution did not give up. Some of the delegates were elected to the state legislature where they served on a joint legislative committee on constitutional reform. Over time, many of the proposals from the 1972 constitution were resubmitted to the voters and were eventually adopted.