(CNN)This Election Day, Alabama voters once again will decide whether to remove racist language from the state's constitution and other sections that ground it in its segregationist past.
Alabama voters will decide whether to remove racist language about segregated schools and interracial marriage from the state constitution
Although segregation hasn't been legal in Alabama since the 1950s, a section remains in the state's constitution requiring Black and White children to attend schools separated by race. There are also sections in the state constitution on poll taxes, the rights of men -- and only men -- to vote in the state and the statewide ban on interracial marriage.
Many of those sections have been repealed -- but the language remains in the official document.
Alabama lawmakers have tried to remove those lines from the state constitution, which was adopted in 1901 and amended hundreds of times in the 119 years since. But past efforts have failed.
If Amendment 4 is passed by a majority of Alabama voters this year, state legislators could draft a "rearranged version" of the lengthy document that deletes the racist language from the constitution and consolidates amendments that apply to the same city or county.
The current Alabama constitution was "written primarily to codify white supremacy," according to the Encyclopedia of Alabama, a service of Auburn University and the Alabama Humanities Foundation.
There are still passages in the Alabama Constitution, adopted in 1901, that use offensive, outdated language to refer to Black residents of the state. Though many of its sections have since been repealed, like those on literacy tests that would effectively keep poor residents from voting, some relics from the Jim Crow Era -- like the sections on school segregation and illegal interracial marriage-- remain.
Alabama Rep. Merika Coleman, Amendment 4's lead sponsor, said the amendment gives Alabama a chance to move on from its racist past.
"We recognize there has been some systemic racism," Coleman told CNN affiliate WBRC this month. "I think that we could be a leader around this nation about what we're going to do in the state of Alabama to show that we believe that all people are equal in our state."
Coleman did not respond to CNN's requests for comment.
Alabama's constitution also strictly limits home rule, meaning that counties must go through the state and gain legislative approval for any changes they want to make within the county.
That's part of the reason why the state constitution has over 900 amendments -- over 70% of them apply only to one city or county, according to Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform.
If passed, Amendment 4 wouldn't result in immediate change. If a majority of voters vote to pass the amendment, the Alabama legislature will meet for a constitutional convention in 2022 to revise the constitution.
They'd only be allowed to remove the racist language or language that no longer applies (like the since-repealed sections) and consolidate the amendments for specific counties and cities, which would shorten the lengthy document.
Once it's drafted, a majority of voters would need to approve the new constitution for it to become law.
Alabama lawmakers have introduced similar amendments that would revise the constitution, but a majority of voters have never voted to pass them.
Voters rejected a 2004 amendment that would've removed racist language and mentions of poll taxes. A version of the amendment appeared again in 2012 but once again failed to pass.
The issue has come before the state legislature, too: There were two attempts in 2008 to convene a constitutional convention and rewrite the constitution -- but two bills, one each in the House and Senate, failed to pass, and hopes of editing the current constitution were dashed, according to Alabama Citizens for Constitutional Reform.
Though past attempts to rewrite the constitution have failed, Coleman said the renewed push for racial justice lends the amendment greater importance.
"We are a 21st-century Alabama, and we want to remove that language that was put in that still plagues us," she told AL.com.
Alabama doesn't have an early voting period, so voters, presented with the issue for the third time in 16 years, will decide whether to pass the measure on November 3.