Staff’s blog

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.

Do you believe in good government? Do you want to make a difference in your state?

If the answers to these questions are “yes”, Citizens in Charge Foundation wants you to apply to be a Citizen State Coordinator. We are seeking leaders to organize grassroots activists at the local and state level to protect and defend ballot initiative and referendum (I&R), the process which allows citizens to hold government accountable and reform it when necessary.

Wyoming’s initiative and referendum pioneer was State Rep. L. C.
Tidball of Sheridan. In the early 1890s Tidball was one of the first state
legislators in the nation - possibly the very first - to introduce a bill to
amend a state constitution to provide for statewide I&R.

An Oklahoma constitutional amend that would tie the number of signatures to the governor’s race in presidential election years has passed the House and Senate and will now go to the people for a vote. SJR 13 will effectively open up the initiative process since less people vote in races for governor than for president. The bill is part of a series that is aimed empowering citizens by opening up the state’s initiative process.


While some in the Missouri legislature would like to see the initiative process restricted, a Senate committee gave approval today of a bill that would open up the state’s initiative process. The Senate Elections Committee voted 9-0 to send SB 569 to the full Senate for a vote.

Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation released a new video entitiled “A History Lesson from a Four Year Old.”

A four year old takes time to give grown-ups an American history lesson. Watch him explain the Declaration of Independence, the Boston Tea Party and the rights of American citizens. He also explains how the ballot initiative process can help citizens take charge of government!.

With the troubled economy, we hear a lot about how the private sector is more efficient at providing services than government. Arnold Kling has a great piece at the Library of Economics and Liberty on how people in initiative states have the power to force government to compete with the private sector. Kling suggests that citizens can use ballot initiatives to start charter schools to compete with public schools or allow communities to break off of larger cities and form their own government.

Politics Magazine recently highlighted Citizens In Charge Foundation’s Development Director Jonathan Bydlak.

In their “Shop Talk” section the magazine interviewed four fundraisers to discuss politics and the art of funding organizations.

Bydlak, the former fundraising director of the Ron Paul campaign, discussed the importance of incentivizing activists, leveraging technology and attracting small dollar donors.

Read the full article

The battle whether or not to legalize marijuana has gotten a lot more attention in recent weeks. With the drug cartel wars on the Mexican border and the large number of politically activist supporters of the drug, it appears the discussion has reached a fever pitch.

In Denver voters organized, signed petitions and placed the initiative on the ballot. Now voters will be deciding whether police should treat possession of small amounts of marijuana as the lowest priority crime.