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Friday, February 7, 2014

New Way to Waste Time: Searching the Alabama Constitution

Alabama's constitution is the longest constitution in the world. There are many reasons for the length of the constitution, including the state tax code's inclusion in the document, numerous amendments dealing with single cities, and Alabama voters' refusal to remove outdated (to put it extremely mildly) provisions of the constitution.

Recently, I found this website run by the Alabama legislature. Upon going to the site, click on the "Constitution" tab on the left side of the screen, and then the "View" hyperlink. This will bring you to a page that lists all of the articles and amendments to the state constitution.

As far as I can tell, the website is current, and lists all of the original, controversial provisions (see, e.g., Art. VII, sect. 177), as well as the more recent amendments.

The sheer number of amendments and their often dated, unconstitutional, or obscure nature makes this website an excellent place to waste time. For instance, through a quick, ctrl+F search, I was able to determine that 18 of Alabama's constitutional amendments contain the word "Bingo." Those amendments regulate the age limits of those who can play bingo and the requirements organizations must meet to conduct bingo games. And each amendment is specific to one county.

This is probably the best way to waste time that I have found since I learned about Google ngrams.

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