Archives for April 2009

Reason Magazine’s May issue highlights Citizens in Charge Foundation’s President Paul Jacob. In an article entitled “List: Citizen Empowerment” it asks what are the “three barriers to citizen participation in politics.”

Jacob provides three basic challenges activists have encountered and how to overcome them.

He describes the first barrier as:

Play it again Colorado!

Wed, Apr 29 2009 by Staff

Earlier this week Paul Jacob in his daily commentary on discussed Colorado’s Referendum O.

The measure, created by the state legislature, aims at restricting the citizen petition initiative. Even though the measure was defeated by Colorado voters, members of the legislature are pushing through a fast tracked bill in hopes at curtailing the process.


The Miami Herald is reporting that two bills that would have significantly altered Florida’s election law, including banning paying petition circulators by signature, is unlikely to pass this year. The legislative session is scheduled to end May 1.

The Coos Bay World answers the reader’s question “I want to know what happens with the recall election ballots. Where are the mail-in ballots stored as election workers bring them to the courthouse leading up to the election?” here.

Students are learning the power of initiative and referendum.

At the University of Berkley student Rachel Barge co-created the Green Initiative Fund, a student fee referendum put on the university ballot asking students to pay $5 a semester for a sustainability fund.

A Tyranny of the Majority?

Thu, Apr 23 2009 by Staff

One of the most common critiques of the initiative and referendum process is that a majority of voters could pass laws that disadvantage or oppress the rights of a small minority. Proponents of this view often state that only representative democracy can adequately protect individuals’ rights.

The mayor of Tampa, FL wrote a letter to the governor urging him to veto an election reform bill that is working its way through the state legislature. She isn’t the first one in the state to critize the changes. At least three bills seek a host of election reforms including banning paying initiative petition signature collectors by the signature and forcing them to register with the state.

The movement to establish the initiative process in Kansas was well
under way by 1900, when the Democratic and Populist parties in the state
endorsed the idea. In 1909, initiative supporters won approval of their
amendment in the state’s lower house but were defeated in the state

Sam Adams himself presented Paul Jacob, President of Citizens in Charge Foundation, with a Lifetime Achievement Award.sammies

Technically it was the Sam Adams Alliance during their annual “Sammies” awards, and it was a Sam Adams lookalike (the founding father died quiet sometime ago).

The Dallas City Secretary has created this list of polling places for the upcoming May 9 election. Also listed are Propositions 1 and 2. Proposition 1 would prevent the city from owning a hotel. Proposition 2 would require voter approval anytime the city gives more than $1,000,000 to a private developer.

Read the story from the Dallas Morning News

A Florida newspaper has criticized a bill that would require signature collectors in the state to submit personal information to the supervisor of elections and push activists even farther away from polls.

Thanks to Richard Winger at Ballot Access News.

The 26th Alaska Legislature closed its session Sunday without passing House Bill 36. The bill would have required campaign finance reporting for initiative supporters and banned payment-per-signature.

Paying signature gatherers per-signature is the industry standard, even though critics claim that it invites fraud. Industry experts and ballot initiative rights supporters say that since initiative  proponents only pay for valid signatures, it actually reduces fraud and increases productivity.