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Amendments to the State Constitution

Republicans are bringing constitutional amendments to the polls in off-year elections, when voter turnout is lower, to change what they can’t win through current laws and elections.


Amending the constitution does not involve the governor and therefore cannot be vetoed. 


  • Proposed amendments, once they pass both chambers of the General Assembly, become referenda in elections that voters can approve or reject.  

  • Once approved by voters an amendment goes into effect and cannot be vetoed by the governor.  

  • The current PA consistution, effective since 1968, has been amended 49 times.  Of these 49, 35 were brought to voters in an off-year electionthat is, during elections that do not have gubernatorial or presidential candidates on the ballot and when there is lower voter turnout.  

  • The most recent amendments were brought to voters in 2021.  2 of these limited the governor's power by requiring legislative approval to extend an emergency declaration and also authorizing the legislature to extend or terminate an emergency declaration.  Both of these exclude any action from the governor.  

  • All of the referenda brought in 2021 were brought to the ballot during the primary election, when the fewest number of Pennsylvanians go to the polls.  There is no requirement that amendments to the PA constitution be brought to the voters during a general election.  

  • Republicans are changing PA laws in this way intentionally.  Although Independents CAN vote in primaries for certain issues, like voter referenda, few, if any, go to the polls during a primary because in most cases they cannot vote in party primaries, when candidates are selected for the general primary. 


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