Tampering With The Initiative Process
- Dear George: george@...It has come to my attention that you oppose the right of the People to direct access to the ballot initiative process, or at least desire it to be much harder to accomplish.I ask you, is it not a constitutional right to redress of grievances by the People when they have no other means to redress except the initiative process, to alter or amend their form of government that has enslaved them? (See the Declaration of Independence). Or is it that you believe that government should be the sole definer of what freedom is for the People?I am sure our Founding Fathers would have loved to have had available to them the direct initiative process to regain their freedom instead of being left with only one conclusion, "If they mean to have a war, let it begin here, and let it begin now!" The result was the shot heard round the world. Do you think a bloody revolution is a better why to go? Now if your position were that governments should not have access to the initiative process, and thereby cut the proliferation of initiatives now bombarding us, the citizens, on our ballots, I would support you. That is a total abuse of the process.May I suggest you rethink your conclusion and join and support the peaceful revolution that is now in process across America by the J.A.I.L. Initiative. Once passed, much of the problems to which citizens seek redress by the initiative process, will be greatly reduced, thereby accomplishing your stated goal. Your response is appreciated.-Ron Branson-Author/Founder National JAIL
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George Smith's Opinion:
Getting on Maine's referendum ballot ought to be more difficult. A tiny interest group with fewer than 200 members can set up in election day polling places and collect, in a single day, the 43,000 signatures necessary to qualify their initiative for the ballot. Or a wealthy individual can hire signature gatherers and do the same thing for less than $100,000. Either way, a kooky idea is placed on your next election plate, already full with important decisions like bond issues and the election of legislators and members of Congress.
Across the country it is much the same. National special interest groups like the Humane Society of the United States have placed their special interest initiatives on the ballots in dozens of states in recent years. And wealthy individuals have bankrolled initiatives on suicide, term limits and other issues. Voters have tackled meaty issues from nude dancing and thong bathing suits to the construction of major league ballparks. Here in Maine, we have endured three referenda each on nuclear power and forest practices intermingled with a parade of votes on everything from gay rights to pornography to Sunday shopping. We just can't get enough of these ballot initiatives, and that's the problem.
Today it's too easy to get on the ballot. No one would be disenfranchised if the process were more difficult.
(Above sent to JAIL by Frank)
Is George misguided or what? Does he really believe less citizen engagement is desirable. Paraphrasing a famous quote "I'd rather endure a hundred unmeritorious referenda than make it more difficult for one legitimate cause". If George's concern is that voters can't handle a few extra issues then maybe that's the problem and not the citizen initiative process. I hope some other's will join me in sending comments to George (george@...).
Let's let George hear from all of us on this, as he is the primary influence on initiatives in the State of Maine.