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February 25, 2006

Fixing the Initiative Process

Goldy is just talking plain good sense as he propose common sense reforms to the Washington State initiative process:

  1. Ban paying per signature
  2. Restrict editorial content on petitions
  3. Allow legal challenges prior to the ballot to prevent blatantly unconstitutional or illegal inititiaves from making it to the ballot
  4. Create incentives for filing initiatives to the legislature to encourage democratic deliberation
  5. Charge a reasonable filing fee to prevent frivolous filings

The initiative process is broken.  Let's try to fix it.  These reforms would be a good place to start.

Posted by Jon Stahl on February 25, 2006 at 11:57 AM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink


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One of the reasons the initiative process is broken is that moneyed interests, not neccesarily popular interests, can high jack it to bring their issues to the top of the pile. Creating higher barriers to participation (such as a filing fee) does not prevent people with money from filing initiatives, it prevents people withouth money from participating.

One reform I would like to see would be a simple change in the size of signature forms from legal size to a standard 8.5x11 so groups could distribute forms over the internet. Campaigns with money already have resources to hire signature gatherers, this kind of reform wouldn't help them much, but it would help out actual citizen initiative campaigns.

Posted by: Emmett O'Connell | Feb 25, 2006 4:05:08 PM


Fair points, both.

Changing to 8.5"x11" petition forms would be a HUGE boost to internet-enabling grassroots initiative campaigns.

Posted by: Jon Stahl | Feb 25, 2006 5:11:33 PM

Yeah, just don't ask me where I got the idea (I-*cough*-912).

Posted by: Emmett O'Connell | Feb 25, 2006 10:20:33 PM

Initiatives should also require a 60% yes vote to pass. After all the bar should be high for an end run.

Posted by: Particle Man | Feb 26, 2006 11:53:45 AM

We're missing one major point that should be included in initiative reform within Washington State: only Washingtonians should be allowed to collect signatures. Right now, most signature gatherers are not Washington citizens, rather, they're seasonal initiative gatherers that come in from other states. If an initiative is supposed to be by the people, it makes sense to exclude non-citizens/residents of our state from promoting initiatives.

Posted by: DemocraticGirl | Apr 30, 2006 12:51:30 PM

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