Willie Brown, the legendary Assembly speaker and former San Francisco mayor, says he has never voted for a ballot initiative.
“Not one,” he asserts emphatically without hesitation.
“I’ve always, without question, been opposed to the initiative process. Period,” he told an initiative reform conference in Sacramento last week.
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A key rule for political reform is that it should be as neutral as possible. Think of it in terms of a football game. It may be wise to add a penalty to, say, better protect quarterbacks, but such a change should not be done to help a particular team with a shoddy front line. The rules should be adjusted only if it’s better for the game.
Californians need to keep that in mind as they face renewed efforts to revamp the state’s 102-year-old experiment in direct democracy — the initiative, referendum and recall. Gov. Hiram Johnson and the Progressives ushered in these far-reaching reforms to check the power of corrupt political machines and corporate interests. Progressives had deep faith in the ability of average citizens to vote for the “public interest.”
Corporations and some of the wealthiest Americans have spent more than $1 billion in the past 18 months on ballot initiatives in just 11 states, an unprecedented explosion of money used to pass new laws and influence the public debate.
According to campaign finance reports in 11 states with long histories of initiatives and referendums, the billion dollars spent since the beginning of 2012 is more than has been spent in any two-year period. Supporters and opponents of ballot measures spent nearly as much, $965 million, in 2005 and 2006.
Federal Way voters had just one local ballot proposition during the Nov. 5 general election.
Passing with nearly 76 percent of the vote, Proposition No. 1 will restrict the submission of all citizen initiative petitions to the general elections because the voter participation is historically higher at general elections, and to avoid the added expense of a special election.
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This year’s election doesn’t have a ton of high profile races, but those on the ballot in Washington state and some cities could have a big impact, both locally and nationally.
I-522 would require the labeling of certain foods and seeds containing genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Opponents have broken the record for the most money raised by an initiative campaign. “No on 522” raised over $21 million to defeat the measure, much of that coming from food companies like Coca-Cola, General Mills and Nestle USA, as well as biochemical companies like Monsanto.
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The initiative and referendum process has been an empowering and, often, mind-numbing exercise for Oregon’s electorate. More than a hundred ballot measures have been voted on in a dozen primary and general elections, and a half-dozen special elections, since the turn of the century, including 12 measures in November 2008 and a whopping 26 measures in November 2000.
The various measures, propositions, initiatives, referenda, proposals, and amendments are listed by state with subheadings for statewide, countywide, and local issues.
Visit the guide: here
With just over a week to go before the November 5th general election, Washington’s Initiative 517, which concerns the initiative and referendum process in the state, is opposed by a narrow margin. After hearing the ballot question, 33% of voters plan to or have already voted “yes,” while 40% plan to or have voted “no.” The remaining 27% are undecided or wouldn’t reveal their vote.
Importantly, intensity is stronger on the “no” side – among those who have yet to cast their ballots, 21% say they are a “definite” no vote, while only 11% are a definite “yes” vote.
Read more: here
Counties have verified there are enough valid signatures on petitions to give voters the last word on extensive changes in election laws pushed through the Republican-controlled Legislature.
The Secretary of State’s Office said Wednesday that a random check of signatures found 18.38 percent to be invalid. Applying that to the 139,161 that Ken Bennett’s office found preliminarily valid, that leaves backers with 113,583, far more than the 86,405 needed to delay enactment of the law and put the issue on the 2014 ballot.
But Barrett Marson said the Republican interests he represents who want the changes on the books may still sue in a last-ditch attempt to keep the issue from voters.