Written by Robert Warden
Just when you might have thought that Republicans had exhausted their list of strategies to sway the political process in their favor, they have now come up with a new one.
While this one is not intended to directly lead to an increase in the number of Republicans who are elected, it is intended to thwart attempts to bypass the legislative process in order to pass popular, progressive-minded laws through the ballot initiative process (https://www.msn.com/…/voters-supported…/ar-AALePIZ…).
What, specifically, are Republican majority legislatures doing to make passing a ballot initiative at the state level, more difficult?
Perusing the article in the link yields a list of such tactics, as follows:
1. Requiring signatures from registered voters in every district of the state, in order to get the initiative on the ballot (This makes the process more tedious and expensive);
2. Requiring a greater percentage of voters sign the ballot petition than previously, in order for the initiative to be voted on;
3. Adding funding restrictions to ballot initiative organizers;
4. Increasing the font size and reducing the paper size that the petition can be printed on in order to make it difficult to fit on the page (Wow);
5. Adding a supermajority requirement in order for an initiative to pass (such as 60% rather than a simple majority);
6. In Florida, legislators have added requirements that people who have been released from prison, must pay all remaining fines and court fees prior to being allowed to vote again, after voters passed an initiative allowing former convicts to vote;
7. Finally, legislatures which simply repeal or refuse to enforce, laws that were passed by ballot initiative, or they can be overturned in their courts.
In all, more than 125 bills have been introduced in 31 states which aim to limit the chances of ballot initiatives passing a popular vote. So far, of these bills, 19 have passed, while 31 failed to pass for one reason or another.
All of these proposals to limit the ballot initiative process, have been supported by Republicans, and basically opposed by Democrats. Fortunately, many of these laws which are passing legislatures, are being challenged in court. Furthermore, Democratic legislators are expected to pushback on these attempts to prevent popular progressive proposals from being enacted. Overall, it appears to me that much of this secondary battle over voting rights will occur in courtrooms, and will play out over a lengthy period of at least several years, if not longer.
What we can do as voters, is to become involved in the initiative process and the fight to not only preserve this right, but expand it. If you live in a state where Republicans are attempting to reduce voters’ ability to pass ballot initiatives, you can contact your state representatives to register your disdain for this effort. Also, volunteering for ballot initiative projects is helpful. It looks like these voter-supported initiatives can use all the help that they can get in many states.