Whereas, an experience of more than six years has shown that the present
constitution of Alabama is grievously defective, and operates to the injury
of the good people of this State, and imposes burthens oppressive to their
industry, and in restraint of the prosperity which they might obtain under
the influence of a better devised constitution; and whereas, the amendments
to be desired are numerous, and can not be obtained in the form of proposing
them to the people for a direct vote thereon, but require careful deliberation
by delegates from the people selected for that purpose, so that a harmonious
system of government may be devised, consistent in all its parts, and suited
to the wants and circumstances of the people of Alabama; therefore,
Section 1. Be it enacted by the General Assembly of Alabama, That an election shall be held in each county of this State, on Tuesday after the first Monday in August, 1875, by the qualified voters of this State, for the election of delegates to a convention to be held on the 1st Monday in September, 1875, for the purpose of taking into consideration the constitution of this State, and revising and amending the same in the particulars wherein said constitution appears to require amendment: Provided, however, That such convention shall only be held in case it appears that a majority of all the electors of this State, twenty-one years of age and upwards, who may vote at said election, approve of such convention by voting therefor, in the manner hereinafter provided.
Section 2. Be it further enacted, That at the election directed by the first section of this act, every qualified elector of this State voting at said election, who approves of the holding of such convention, shall declare the same by depositing his ballot at the voting place where he may be entitled to vote, with the words "For Convention" written or printed, or partly written and partly printed thereon; and every qualified elector of this State, voting at said election, who disapproves of the holding of such convention, shall deposit his ballot with the words "Against Convention" written or printed, or partly written and partly printed thereon. Upon the same ballot on which each qualified elector of this State may vote for or against such convention, as the case may be, he may also vote for a delegate or delegates to said convention, as the county and senatorial district in which such elector is entitled to vote may be entitled to elect to said convention under the provisions of this act.
Section 3. Be it further enacted, That the delegates to said convention shall be citizens of this State, and shall have the qualifications required for senators of this State under the constitution and laws thereof. The said convention shall be composed of one delegate from each county in this State, and one delegate from each senatorial district in the State, and one additional delegate from the county of Mobile.
Section 4. Be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the governor of this State, at least sixty days prior to the election herein provided for, to issue to the sheriffs of the several counties of this State writs of election, requiring the said sheriffs, respectively, forthwith to take all necessary steps for the holding the election herein directed, in their respective counties, in the mode and manner provided by law; and said election shall be held in the same manner, and by the officers as provided by law for general elections in this State. The returns of said election shall be made to the secretary of state, in the same manner and within the same time as returns are directed to be made for the election of members of the general assembly, and shall be by him opened and declared in the presence of the lieutenant governor and attorney general of this State, within not less than ten days after the time fixed by the law for the returns to him of the election of members of the general assembly.
Section 5. Be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the secretary of state, immediately after the returns of the said election shall have been opened and declared as required by the preceding section, to certify to the governor of this State, over his hand, the number of votes cast for, and number of votes cast against a convention. If it appears that there is a majority of votes in favor of the convention, it shall be the duty of the governor to give public notice of the fact by proclamation, published twice in each of the cities of Mobile, Montgomery, Selma, Talladega, Eufaula, Tuskaloosa, Birmingham and Huntsville, and therein also to call upon the delegates elect to assemble at the time and place, and the purpose herein designated. Upon such proclamation being made, it shall be the duty of the secretary of state to notify the persons who may appear to be elected, of their election, and on demand to furnish to each a certificate of his election, as in the case of persons elected to the general assembly. If the majority of votes be found to have been cast against such convention, public notice thereof shall be given by the governor in the manner above prescribed, but no certificate of election shall be issued to any person as a delegate, and no convention shall be held.
Section 6. Be it further enacted, That if the holding of such convention be approved by the qualified electors of this State, as hereinbefore provided, then the delegates elected thereto shall convene in the hall of the house of representatives in the city of Montgomery, on the first Monday in September, 1875, at twelve, meridian, of said day, and shall then and there proceed to organize said convention by the election of a president from among themselves, and such other officers (who need not be delegates) as said convention may deem necessary for the proper performance of the duty assigned to the convention. Said convention shall continue in session till it shall, by a careful revision and amendment of the present constitution, frame and adopt a revised constitution for this State; but said revised constitution shall not become operative till it be ratified by a majority of the qualified voters of this State, voting at an election to be held for that purpose.
Section 7. Be it further enacted, That in case any dispute occur as to the right of any person to sit in said convention as a delegate thereto, the question shall be decided by the said convention, which shall be the exclusive judge of the election, qualification and returns of its own members.
Section 8. Be it further enacted, That the delegates to said convention shall be supplied with stationery, and the use of books, statutes, reports and documents, the same as members of the general assembly. The officers of said convention shall receive the same compensation, payable out of the treasury of the State, as corresponding officers of the house of representatives may be by law allowed. The said delegates shall receive for their services the same per diem and mileage, from the treasury of the State, as may be allowed to members of the general assembly. These payments shall be made on the certificate of the president and secretary or clerk of the convention to the auditor of state, as payment of compensation to members of the general assembly is by law directed to be made; Provided, That per diem compensation shall not be allowed or made to any member of the convention for a longer time than thirty days.
Section 9. Be it further enacted, That if such convention be called, it shall not be authorized to make any ordinance, rule or law, which shall be binding on the people of this State, or any part of them, nor to deprive any person in office of his right to said office, as now held by him under the constitution and laws of this State, nor to place any property or educational qualification upon the right to vote in this State, nor to do any act but to frame and recommend for adoption a constitution, amendatory and revisory of the constitution now in operation in this State. In the constitution so framed, it shall be the duty of the convention to provide for a system of common schools, as liberally as the means of the State will permit, and to be enlarged as those means shall increase. Said convention may, in its wisdom, present portions or parts of the constitution for consideration distinct and apart from other portions or parts, and may present portions or parts of such constitution to be considered and decided upon in the alternative, so that plans of amendment, which may be proposed, may be approved or rejected upon their own merits, without interfering with other parts of the amended constitution, and the best practicable scheme of government secured for the good people of this State. It shall be the duty of said convention to cause to be filed with the secretary of state, within one week after its adjournment, certified by the hand of its president and its secretary or clerk, a clean and correct copy of the constitution, and recommendations which said convention may agree upon, and also in its said returns distinctly to state which portions of said constitution, if any, said convention desires should be considered and decided upon separately from other parts of said constitution, and which, if any, part or parts, should be considered and decided upon in the alternative, or the one as the substitute for the other. Said convention shall cause a correct journal of its proceedings to be kept, and cause the same, certified by the hands of its president and secretary or clerk, to be filed on its adjournment, with the secretary of state. The governor shall cause constitution and recommendations of said convention to be laid before the general assembly at its next session, together with the returns of the election hereinafter required to be held for the adoption or rejection of said constitution.
Section 10. Be it further enacted, That in the event of the framing of such constitution by said convention, it shall be the duty of the governor, within one week after the filing of the same with the secretary of state, to issue his proclamation, published as hereinbefore required for the proclamation to assemble the convention to make known the fact that such constitution has been framed, and thereby to require an election to be held in the several counties of this State, in the same manner and by the same officers as general elections are required to be held, for the purpose of submitting to the qualified voters of this State the ratification or rejection of the said constitution. This election shall be held not less than thirty days nor more than sixty days after the date of said proclamation. At this election, each qualified voter, voting in favor of said constitution, so framed by the convention held under this act, shall deposit his ballot at the voting place where he is by law entitled to vote, on which shall be written or printed, or partly written and partly printed, the words "for constitution", and those voting against said constitution shall, in like manner, deposit his ballot, on which shall be written or printed, or partly written and partly printed, the words "against constitution". The returns of this election shall be made in the manner, and within the time, and to the officer, and be by him opened and the result declared in the manner and form herein provided in the 4th section of this act. The same shall be certified to the governor, and by him made known to the people of this State in the manner provided by the 5th section of this act; and from and after a day to be named in such proclamation not more than ten days from the date thereof, if the said constitution shall be found to have been ratified by a majority of all the qualified electors voting at said election, the said new constitution so ratified shall go into immediate effect as the constitution of the State of Alabama, and shall thenceforth be binding and obligatory as such upon all the people of this State.
Section 11. Be it further enacted, That in case said convention propose parts or portions of said constitution for ratification, separately from the body thereof, or the one as the alternate or substitute for any other, it shall be the duty of the convention so to frame the same that the sense of the qualified electors of the State may be taken thereon at the election to be held in pursuance of the tenth section of this act, so as to determine which and what part of said amendments so proposed are ratified, and which rejected, by the qualified electors of the State by their votes at said election; and for this purpose, to designate them by articles, sections, or paragraphs, and to direct the formula to be used by the said qualified electors on their several ballots, whereby to express their will as to their approval and adoption, or their rejection of the same, or of the alternate or substitute which may be proposed for their election and decision.
Section 12. Be it further enacted, That at the time of the publication of the proclamation by the governor, causing said proposed constitution to be submitted, for ratification or rejection, to the qualified voters of this State, it shall be the duty of the governor to cause a copy of said proposed constitution to be published, as his proclamation required by the fifth section of this act is directed to be published, or to be printed upon a separate sheet and circulated with the newspaper in which the proclamation required by this section shall be published.
Section 13. Be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the next general assembly of this State to enact all laws which may be necessary to carry into effect the provisions of such new constitution, in case the same be ratified by the qualified electors of this State.
Section 14. Be it further enacted, That if an epidemic or pestilence prevail at the place for assembling of said convention at the time appointed, the governor may convene the same at any other city or town in the State, which shall be free from disease; and the said convention, at its discretion, may adjourn to any other city or town in case an epidemic or pestilence occur during its session at the place where it may be assembled.
Section 15. Be it further enacted, That before entering upon the discharge of his duties as a member of said convention under this act, each delegate shall, before a chancellor, or a judge of a circuit or the supreme court of this State, take the following oath: I do solemnly swear that I will support the constitution of the United States, and I will honestly and faithfully perform the duties which are now to devolve on me as a delegate to this convention, charged with the duty of framing a revised and amended constitution of the State of Alabama, so help me God.
Section 16. Be it further enacted, That the several elections herein authorized, whether to determine upon the call of a convention, for delegates thereto, or to pass upon the ratification or rejection of a proposed revised constitution, or any part thereof, shall be conducted in all respects as by law required for the election of members of the general assembly or representatives in congress, at a general election for those purposes; and for all violations of the law committed at any election held under this act, the person or persons so offending shall be arrested, tried and punished as provided by the election laws of this State for violation of the law committed at the general election in this State for members of the general assembly thereof.
Approved March 19, 1875.