petition circulators

This week, Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob traveled to Pierre and Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to release an 18-page report on the prosecution of Dr. Annette Bosworth by South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley, warning at a news conference in Sioux Falls that it may have “a chilling effect on political participation.”

“We want the law to be enforced and people held accountable,” said Jacob, “but the severity of this penalty goes too far and threatens to scare citizens away from getting involved in politics.”

Shoppers at Clovis’ Walmart Supercenter on Herndon Avenue last week had an almost endless array of choices, from groceries to household items to toiletries to clothing. And grassroots democracy could have been on their shopping list if they were interested.

That opportunity awaited at the table set up by Rick and Donna Baker outside the store’s entrance. Shoppers could sign petitions on whether to split California into six states; give law-abiding citizens the right to own, carry, and fire a gun; or reduce some drug and theft felonies to misdemeanors. They could even sign a petition preventing legislators from diverting children’s health care money to the general fund.

Today, attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union Fund of Michigan filed suit in federal court in the Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of Citizens in Charge and others to overturn the state’s residency requirement as an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment rights of Michigan citizens and also a violation of the right of non-residents to be treated equally in employment opportunities in the state.

The lawsuit also seeks either a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction to block enforcement of Michigan’s residency law while its ultimate fate is being fully determined in this court proceeding.

If you’ve been asked to sign initiatives for two competing gun measures by the same signature-gatherer, you’re not alone. And both sides are trying to put a stop to the confusion.

It turns out, some paid signature-gatherers have been carrying clipboards for both I-594 and I-591 and it’s got a number of voters up in arms.

“We have in our contract with the signature-gathering company they can’t collect for 594, too,” says Allen Gottleib, a spokesman for I-591, a measure backed by guns rights advocates that would prevent Washington state from adopting a stricter background-checks standard unless the federal government does the same thing.

On June 28, the Lucy Burns Institute released a summary of news related to the Initiative and Referendum process. Several court cases, news stories and bills to watch are profiled.

Read more: here.

The fate of Virginia’s law prohibiting out-of-state residents from circulating petitions for third-party presidential candidates rests with a federal appeals court, which heard arguments Wednesday on a judge’s decision striking down the statute as an unconstitutional restraint on political speech.

Virginia’s solicitor general, E. Duncan Getchell Jr., told a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that without the law, it would be too difficult to prosecute nonresident petition circulators who commit election fraud.

Rep. Eileen KOWALL (R-White Lake) says her bill targets “bipartisan abuse” of the state’s ballot petition process, and this afternoon, her measure got a hearing before the House Elections and Ethics Committee.

HB 4046 would ban individuals from being paid a fixed rate for each petition signature they obtain and would require paid petition gatherers to wear identification badges.

While there was no vote on  HB 4046 today, the committee took testimony, and the committee’s chairwoman, Rep. Lisa LYONS (R-Alto), said she’s certainly interested in the subject.

Kowall’s bill would apply to petitions for a constitutional amendment, the initiation of legislation and referendum of legislation, according to the House Fiscal Agency.

The leader of the effort to study Lackawanna County’s form of government acknowledged Thursday that hundreds of the 6,101 signatures collected to put the issue before voters in the May 21 primary are invalid because of improperly circulated petitions.

Among the petitions insurance executive Chuck Volpe said will be voluntarily withdrawn is one an attorney challenging the proposed government study commission referendum maintains was actually circulated by state Rep. Kevin Haggerty but given to a neighbor to file in violation of state law.

Read More Here

Laurie Grooman of Newberg, Oregon has “Seen the Elephant,” so to speak, when it comes to being a paid signature gatherer for Voice of the Electorate.  Arrested 3 times in 2012 after refusing to stop signature collecting in public places, Grooman is now filing suit against the city of Hillsboro for her arrest in May of that year. At that public event held at a recreational complex, other advocates were present to witness her arrest while petitioning for Oregon’s Ballot Measure 84.

“It’s a blatant civil rights violation,” Grooman’s attorney Ross A. Day says. “What she was doing was engaging in protected speech.”

At a time when Californians’ ballot initiative & referendum rights have been under sustained attack, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has vetoed three bills that he believes would harm grassroots petitioning efforts.

Last week I discussed a California Assembly bill that was aimed at preventing something that never occurs. Assembly Bill 1068 would ban the writing of contracts that require an initiative to qualify for the ballot before the company that collected the signatures gets paid. As I indicated in my earlier post, such contracts are simply not used in the industry.