Wednesday, November 5

Government BY the People saved in Colorado

First, congrats to all Obamas, from Hawaii to Kansas to Kenya to Indonesia, and the People, for overwhelming turnout, enough to overcome the various schemes to purge them from voter rolls, flip their votes, etc. Colorado is now DEEP blue, with a Dem governor, legislature, both Senators and 5 of 7 House members.

Colorado voters wisely defeated Referendum O, which would have made constitutional ballot initiatives much harder -except for the wealthy. It would have given each Congressional District an effective veto by requiring 8% of signatures from each. Having gathered some 20,000 sigs for initiatives I believed in over the years, I can tell you it's pretty hard in the Boulder/Denver metro area -and would be far harder in rural areas where people are sparser.

Referendum O, proposed by the Legislature, violated recommendations 4, 7 & 8 of the University of Denver Colorado Constitution Panel's report (pdf)

IF the Legislature REALLY wants to improve the ballot initiative process, most academics and activists agree on real reforms: Voters on initiatives need what legislators get: public hearings, expert testimony, amendments, reports, etc., but independent of the legislature, as all branches of government are independent. The best project for such deliberative process is the National Initiative for Democracy, led by former Sen. Mike Gravel. Also Healthy Democracy Oregon and Citizens Initiative Review.

In Switzerland, petitions are left at government offices and stores for people to read and sign at leisure, so there are less aggressive petitioners more informed signers, and less $ required. The Swiss vote on initiatives 3-7 times a year so there's never too many on one ballot. Because they have real power, the Swiss read more newspapers/capita than anyone else.

Legislators have never tried to improve the ballot initiative process, but often try to make it even harder. They'd rather have absolute power!

In Switzerland, representatives are humbler, after centuries of local and cantonal (state) ballot initiatives, and national initiatives since 1891. They call their system "co-determination." Works for couples, too!

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