Staff’s blog

On our last survey we asked, “Do you think public officials should be able to weigh in on ballot initiatives?”

The results were pretty clear, 73% of respondents said Yes, government officials should make their positions known on important issues.

The question arose around story about Alaska’s Governor Palin. Critics were upset at her vocal support for some ballot measures in the state.

Here are some of the comments from the survey:

BBNToday Citizens in Charge Foundation officially launced a new website called, a newswire providing the latest information about ballot initiatives and government reform from around the country. Sing up for national or state specific news feeds. You can also follow BallotBoxNews on twitter.

Oklahoma Senate Bill 800 was signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry yesterday. The bill will move challenges to the ballot wording (“gist statement”) to before signatures are collected rather than after. This will prevent ballot initiative petitions from being thrown out due to minor technicalities after the hard work of gathering signatures has been done.

Today the California Supreme Court upheld ballot proposition eight banning gay marriage in the state. The 6-1 decision ruled that voters legally outlawed same-sex marriages via a voter passed ballot initiative in November. The court also ruled that the estimated 18,000 gay couples that were previously married in California before the law took effect would continue being married.

Prop. 8, as it is commonly referred to, has been in the media spotlight for several months as Californians struggled to decide what is the legal definition of marriage.

We at Citizens in Charge Foundation focus on expanding and protecting the initiative and referendum process at the local and state level. We educate voters on the process in their home state and local communities.

There are several groups out there like who want to make the initiative and referendum a national process. Using the model of Switzerland, activists want to promote I&R in the USA as a way to reform the political process.

Recently Ralph Nader spoke out endorsing a national initiative process.

In an op-ed in today’s Daily Oklahoman—the state’s largest newspaper—Oklahomans for Responsible Government Executive Director Brian Downs calls on Governor Brad Henry to sign two bills aimed at opening up the state’s initiative process.

Citizens in New York are looking for ways to reform the state’s political process.

State Assemblyman Anthony Seminerio, D-Queens, and Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, R-Amherst have introduced legislation to enact an initiative and referendum process in New York.

Today Charles Roda writes an editorial on the why voters should embrace the process. He argues the state’s current system is broken:

Much has been made about the results of California’s ballot measures. Some articles denounce the system as convoluted, and others praise it for providing the people a voice. Californian voters sent a loud message to the government: deal with the budget. Others unhappy with the result want a constitutional convention to do away with the system.

What do you think should happen?

Some interesting articles:

LA TIMES: Distrust of lawmakers came through loud and clear

Oklahomans for Initiative Rights, a group that supports the ballot initiative process in Oklahoma, announced that state House Bill 2246 received final passage from the legislature today. This is the third ballot initiative process reform bill that the legislature has passed this year.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger discussing the results of the California ballot measures.


“Don’t come to us for extra help. That was the message,” Schwarzenegger said after a meeting with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

“And you know something. I appreciate that when you hear that from the people. It gives us a chance to go and adjust, and say ‘OK, we went in the wrong direction. Now lets go in the right direction and lets go do what the people want.’ “

Californians went to the polls yesterday in a special election which featured six statewide ballot measures placed on the ballot by the governor.  An op-ed in today’s LA Times proposes ending the frequent special elections in the state by moving to a system of four quarterly elections each year.

Oklahoma Senate Bill 800 has passed both chambers of the state legislature and now awaits signature from the Governor. The bill will move challenges to the ballot wording (“gist statement”) to before signatures are collected rather than after. This will prevent ballot initiative petitions from being thrown out due to minor technicalities after the hard work of gathering signatures has been done.

In a few hours California voters will take to the polls and decide the fate of their state. Using the initiative and referendum process millions of people will weigh on important measures. In Paul Jacob’s weekly column he writes how he is “jealous” of Californian’s power.

Californians live in one of 24 states that have the power of initiative and referendum. While he agrees the process is not perfect but states it provides people with options.

Grassroots Update: Reform!

Fri, May 15 2009 by Staff
GRUThe movement for ballot initiative rights keeps building around the country as activists in several states work to roll back attacks on their rights and push forward with efforts to expand them.
A broad coalition of groups ranging politically from left to right have teamed up to fight Senate Bill 212 in Nevada. Twice, the Nevada legislature has enacted a requirement that petition signatures be collected in certain areas of the state.

Governor Tim Kaine has finally put his signature on a bill meant to protect citizens petitioning their government from being sanctioned.