Ballot Initiative Blues – Part 2

“It should be harder to place initiatives on the ballot to discourage special interest groups.”

The underlying message here is that voters are routinely “duped” and end up voting against their best interest.  Does the initiative process thwart the will of the majority more often than other forms of lawmaking?  There’s no evidence to suggest that.  I wonder how differently some of Missouri’s ballot measures might have looked if the legislature had been responsible for curbing their own reach.  Do you think it would have been closer, or further away, from the will of Missouri voters?

If Missouri voters were easily hoodwinked, I’d also expect to see green checks next to most of the measures, but of the 134 questions posed to Missourians in the last 86 years, voters approved only 69 measures, and rejected 65.  Missouri voters seem to have no problem saying no to measures they don’t like.

Are all of those good laws?  Probably not.  I’ve got several in mind that bother me to no end.  But for every one of those I can also think of a dozen passed legislatively that I wish hadn’t.  With an initiative petition process like we have in Missouri, I can do something as a voter to change or dismantle a bad policy, or create a new policy, and I can directly vote against something I believe is misguided.

To top it all off, making access to the ballot more difficult will put this tool even further out of reach for the average citizen.  If we’re interested in a state government that’s responsible and responsive to its people, making it harder to put a question on the ballot would be a serious blow to that goal.

http://www.ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/List_of_Missouri_ballot_measures

Emily Iles
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2 Responses to “Ballot Initiative Blues – Part 2”

  1. Alice says:

    Do we really think the ballot initiative process is “EASY”?
    I mean truly there has to be a VERY organized effort to get everything, that is necessary to qualify for the ballot, completed–I mean check out this 27-page ‘how-to’ document http://www.sos.mo.gov/elections/pubs/makeyourvoiceheard/MakingYourVoiceHeard.pdf
    It does NOT sound all that “EASY” to me…

    • Emily Iles says:

      It’s not easy to get an issue on the ballot. There are plenty of items than never make it, even with a lot of support and organization. While it may be difficult today to get an issue on the ballot, the difficulties are to make sure the process is fair and that there is a general interest in having an issue decided by voters.

      While our process may seem complicated and cumbersome already, there are 26 states that do not recognize the right of citizens to petition, and there are many with more stringent qualifications that in fact limit the access of citizens to the petition process.

      http://www.citizensincharge.org/stategrades has graded each state for voter initiative rights. Missouri gets an A-, with some room for improvement, while a state like Alabama gets an F since citizens have NO right to bring a Constitutional Amendment before a statewide vote.