Under provisions of public law 1951 chapter 2705, approved April 25, 1951 “An Act to Provide for Calling a Constitutional Convention of the People of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations for the Purpose of Amending the Constitution” a special election was held May 25, 1951 with voters approving the measure 165,738 for and 4,209 against. The convention with two hundred delegates convened at the Veterans’ Memorial building auditorium at Providence, June 1 – 3, 1951 with Governor Dennis J. Roberts serving as chairman and William J. Thompson Secretary. At a second special election held June 28, 1951, the voters approved six of the proposed amendments; (1) repeal of poll tax, 41,120 to 15,075; (2) home rule for cities & towns, 48,638 to 7,999; (3) permanent registration of voters of the state, 48,314 to 8,612; (4) qualifications of voters, veterans’ exemptions, 44,754 to 10,936;(5) increase of borrowing power of state, 30,874 to 24,438 and (6) off – street parking in cities & towns, 39,291 to 16,844. Two proposals were rejected; (1) Increasing compensation of members of general assembly 36,998 to 18,979 & (2) life tenure for judges of the supreme & superior courts, 28,949 to 26,937. Author: Kenneth S. Carlson
Scope and Contents: The 1951 convention was a limited convention held to consider eight proposals of amendment to the Rhode Island Constitution. 1 Repeal of poll tax; 2 Increasing compensation of members of General Assembly; 3 Home rule for cities & towns; 4 Permanent registration of voters of the state; 5 Providing for qualification of voters – veterans’ exemptions; 6 Providing for increase of borrowing power of State; 7 Life tenure for judges of supreme & superior courts & 8 Providing for off street parking in cities & towns. Collection arranged within three series; resolutions, convention proceedings & various papers including correspondence received, newspaper articles, roll call votes, record of convention employees, etc.