Staff’s blog

From Joe Matthews at the Blockbuster Democracy Blog:

Great news out of Nebraska, a vote to change how Nebraskans vote.

According to the Journal Star, a proposed ballot measure will allow the average voter to have a stronger voice in their state’s government.

Nebraskans could vote on whether it should be easier to vote ”” on ballot initiatives.

Brad Ashwell Legislative Advocate for the Florida Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), has been named as the May 2009 recipient of the John Lilburne Award. He is being honored for his work in defeating anti-initiative legislation and defending the rights of Florida voters.

Recently Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has been in the news again, this time for taking a position on ballot initiatives in her state.

According to Politico:

“The Alaska Public Offices Commission found Friday night that she did not violate state election laws by announcing her position on a controversial ballot measure requiring tougher environmental standards for new mines.”

Citizen led reform is a priority for Illinois Governor Pat Quinn. He is working against the clock to push through his top issues before the official end of the state’s legislative session.

Quinn, who is trying to create a stark difference between himself and his predecessor, the disgraced Rob Blagojevich, is making his mark as a reformer. At the top of his “must-do” list are ethics reform, passing a recall measure, public financing and allowing citizens to use binding referendums to enact reform when lawmakers do not.

We hope you can join us for today for Citizens On Tap, an informal gathering of friends and colleagues seeking mutual understanding over a pint of beer (or wine…?) If you are in the D.C. metro area, please stop by and enjoy the fun today, Wednesday, May 6, 2009 at Tortilla Coast. Meet us at the bar and check in. The first round is on us.

Please RSVP to


Oklahomans are celebrating the passage of a major reform to the state’s stringent ballot initiative process.  Senate Joint Resolution 13 (SJR-13) passed the legislature and will now be on the 2010 ballot for the voters of Oklahoma.

The Blockbuster Democracy Blog tells us how NOT to reform Nevada’s ballot initiative process. A bill moving through the state legislature would require the signatures of 10% of voters in all 42 assembly districts. Joe Matthews points out that “That would effectively end ballot initiatives in the state. Such a process would be far too expensive and time-consuming for anyone but the wealthiest of the wealthy.”

The Mississippi Constitution, article 15, sec. 273, contains the procedure for initiatives to change the state Constitution. That part of the Constitution was written in 1992, when Mississippi had five U.S. House Districts. The Constitution says, “The signatures from any one congressional district shall not exceed one-fifth of the total number of signatures required to qualify an initiative petition.

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.