. . . This convention has risen above the plane
of partisan politics.
Elihu Root, convention president, Closing Address 1
THE 1894 CONSTITUTION specified 1916 as the year when the question of holding a convention would be submitted to the voters. Democratic governor Martin Glynn argued for submission in 1914, as 1916 was a presidential election year, but Democratic control of both houses of the state legislature undoubtedly influenced Glynn's decision. Holding a constitutional convention two years prior to the specified date would guarantee Democratic control, enabling the party to rewrite the invidious apportionment provision inserted by Republicans in 1894 to ensure rural Republicans would not be out-voted by urban Democrats.
In December 1913 the legislature voted to move the date of the referendum on holding a convention to April 1914. In that election, voters approved the call for a convention by the slim majority of 153,322 to 151,969. The total vote cast in the election, 310,444, was less than half the vote totals of each of the two previous referenda in 1866 and 1886. Comparing this figure with the 1,611,672 votes cast for candidates in the 1912 gubernatorial election makes the contrast even more arresting. Holding the referendum in the spring contributed to the unusually low turnout. This limited turnout prompted calls for a constitutional provision forbidding the summoning of a convention or the ratification of amendments by minorities of the electorate. 2
For the third time in as many conventions, Republicans emerged with a majority of delegates, electing 116 to the Democrats' 52. No Progressives were elected. What could account for this reversal in