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What do you think of voter initiatives and referendums?

What do you think of voter initiatives and referendums?


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jamesrage

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What do you think of voter initiatives and referendums?

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I love them. It gives the people more control seeing how the employees of the people aka the government sometimes does a lousy job. I wish the constitution was amended to allow this on the federal level.


Here is a Wikipedia definition for those who do not know.
Initiatives and referendums in the United States - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
# Initiative, in which any citizen or organization may gather a predetermined number of signatures to qualify a measure for the ballot. (These may be further divided into constitutional amendments and statutory initiatives. Statutory initiatives typically require fewer signatures to qualify for the ballot.)
# Popular Referendum, in which a predetermined number of signatures (typically lower than the number required for an initiative) qualifies a ballot measure repealing a specific act of the legislature.
 

obvious Child

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Direct Democracy gets you California. That alone should suggest it's a bad idea when used liberally.

In theory, voter initiatives aren't bad. It's when they get used for everything that it goes to pot. And at least in America, we'll put anything up to vote.
 

Hoplite

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I think the system of voter initiatives is a good THEORY, but in practice most voters are not educated enough and do not take the time to educate themselves to a necessary level to be able to make an informed vote on something.

In California, people usually vote YES on all these school bonds and new parks, etc etc. But when it comes time for some new taxes or cutting something else to free up money to PAY for all these nice new things, people vote NO then wonder why we're broke.
 

Kandahar

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They're generally terrible. Voters don't research the issues enough to have an informed opinion. Many of them never even considered the issue until they stepped into the voting booth. Voter referenda bring disasters like the California voting process, which requires a simple majority in their General Assembly to increase spending, but a two-thirds majority to increase taxes. Is it any surprise that they're going bankrupt as a result? All because a couple decades ago voters walked into a voting booth, decided "dur hur i no liek taxes," and passed a constitutional amendment without even considering the consequences.

I think we have a representative democracy for a reason. Most voters don't know about the issues and don't care to learn.
 
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Orion

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Voter initiatives tend to show us how stupid the general public is, and why democracy is slow and only mildly effective over the long-term. Sorry to be so blunt about it but I couldn't put it any other way. The majority of people are not educated to sufficient levels to understand the issues or at least have the tools to understand the issues. Most people cannot afford the opportunity cost to do research. They are busy surviving in their day to day. What voter initiatives do is suddenly give these survivalists something that they have to deal with, even though many are completely incapable of judging the issue.

It's why elections in general are more about celebrity and charisma. People will vote for someone based on the most trivial details.
 
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The less democracy, the better. I usually roll my eyes when some dewey-eyed right winger talks about returning to the Founders' original vision, but I think the idea of repealing direct election of senators and the president is a good idea.
 

Hoplite

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The less democracy, the better. I usually roll my eyes when some dewey-eyed right winger talks about returning to the Founders' original vision, but I think the idea of repealing direct election of senators and the president is a good idea.
One thing we need to consider is that the founders kept the hands of the average person AWAY from the mechanics of government. We did get to vote on some things, but the American voter has A LOT more of a free-hand today than he ever did 200 years ago.
 
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One thing we need to consider is that the founders kept the hands of the average person AWAY from the mechanics of government. We did get to vote on some things, but the American voter has A LOT more of a free-hand today than he ever did 200 years ago.
I agree with you, and I think that it's time to end the folly of that increased liberty.
 

Hoplite

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I agree with you, and I think that it's time to end the folly of that increased liberty.
That's a dangerous line to toe, one I'm not entirely comfortable with.

I would rather try to increase political education so many voters CAN make educated choices.
 

Kandahar

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I agree with you, and I think that it's time to end the folly of that increased liberty.

You seem to think that "increased democracy" and "increased liberty" are the same thing. Not only are they different, but increased democracy isn't even particularly likely to result in increased liberty.

The most likely outcome is horrible government policies, enacted by people who know absolutely nothing about the issues they are voting on.
 

Wiseone

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For all the reasons people said above I voted No. People vote for new spending, but never taxes. And then on top of that you get special interest groups who try to formulate a specific set of circumstances which may not for whatever reason be allowed to all be placed in one ballot measure. So they divide it up into several. Now if all of them pass than the special interest wins, if some pass and some don't all you get is wasted money and laws which really have no purpose because their sister measure didn't get passed.

It just creates a God awful budget and social mess.
 

tacomancer

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What do you think of voter initiatives and referendums?

Like of the of

I love them. It gives the people more control seeing how the employees of the people aka the government sometimes does a lousy job. I wish the constitution was amended to allow this on the federal level.


Here is a Wikipedia definition for those who do not know.

Politicians and the citizenry can do equally stupid things. However, it is our society, so I support this kind of law making.
 

Yossarian

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Just as a comparison in light of the topic of this thread, referendums are quite important in an Australian context. S 128 of the Australian Constitution states that the Constitution may only be amended by way of a referendum. This idea was actually inspired by the Swiss constitution, and in my opinion provides an important source of popular sovereignty in that only 'the people' of Australia may ultimately decide how our fundamental law is to be altered.

Because these referendums have a number of inbuilt checks and balances, they do not produce outlandish results. Firstly, the proposed Constitutional amendment must be passed by Parliament. Then it is put to the people, whereupon it must gain a majority of votes in a majority of States. Because of these factors, combined with the inherent conservatism of the average Australian voter, only 8 out of 44 referendums have been successful. The most successful of these allowed the Parliament to make laws with respect to Indigenous Australians, and occurred in 1967. On the other hand, two unsuccessful referendums were, firstly, an attempt to allow the Parliament to legislate to ban the Communist Party and, secondly, an attempt to make Australia a republic by replacing the Governor-General with an appointed President.

I say this with a bit of national pride, but I do believe that the Australian method of Constitutional amendment, with its inbuilt checks and balances, is perhaps one of the smarter examples of referendum procedure that are out there.
 

earthworm

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I do not think that the voters are smart enough to voice their concerns via referendum.
California has tried this and failed.
But, they are right about marijuana.
Is our nation mature enough for the legality of this noxious weed?
This must be done on a very local basis, maybe township or county.
 

Aunt Spiker

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What do you think of voter initiatives and referendums?

Like of the of

I love them. It gives the people more control seeing how the employees of the people aka the government sometimes does a lousy job. I wish the constitution was amended to allow this on the federal level.


Here is a Wikipedia definition for those who do not know.

I like them - I always research my vote.
But many people don't - it seems that my state just votes yes for every damn thing without reading them - and some of our voter's decisions have been ruled unconstitutional and they always win by the same margins.
 

Cephus

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California is proof that it just doesn't work. I'd like to see it required that each and every initiative pass legal muster before it ever hits the ballot, there are far too many issues which are voted on which violate the Constitution and have to be tossed aside anyhow. How many millions of dollars are wasted voting on things that can't be passed in the first place? Further, I want to see unfunded bond issues made illegal. If you can't include, in the initiative, a way to pay it back, either through taxes or another means, then don't put it on the ballot.
 

phattonez

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California is proof that people vote on gut feelings and so should not be trusted to make good decisions for others. Just speaking bluntly and honestly.
 

BCR

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There are some things out there in which the public opinion is shifting rapidly but the politicians opinion remains the same, like Marijuana. The only way Marijuana is going to be passed is through voter initiatives. Politicians don't have the balls to put something like this up for vote.
 

phattonez

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There are some things out there in which the public opinion is shifting rapidly but the politicians opinion remains the same, like Marijuana. The only way Marijuana is going to be passed is through voter initiatives. Politicians don't have the balls to put something like this up for vote.

That measure failed in California in a popular vote.
 

disneydude

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The initiative system is bad all the way around. First off, he elect representatives for a reason. You don't like the representatives and what they do?....then vote them out.
Initiatives are akin to vigilanteeism. 9 times out of 10 they are poorly written because they are written by people who don't have a clue what they are doing. They often contain hidden consequences that the public is unaware of and are often misleading and engage in deceptive advertising that gets people to vote for them without really understanding what will happen once the referendum becomes law.
 

roguenuke

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Initiatives are bad for pretty much all the reasons everyone already gave. Many people are ignorant, lazy, belief-blinded, or a combination of these.

When I can ask random 100 random people on the street if they would ban a chemical with a list of "bad" things that it does or is a part of, and anywhere from 60 to 90 of them would say "yes" without knowing that the chemical, dihydrogen monoxide is actually water. I've seen the results of an experiment on this done. It wasn't pretty. The results of that particular experiment actually were 98 or 99 out of a hundred, with only one person knowing that dihydrogen monoxide was water.
 

BCR

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There are some things out there in which the public opinion is shifting rapidly but the politicians opinion remains the same, like Marijuana. The only way Marijuana is going to be passed is through voter initiatives. Politicians don't have the balls to put something like this up for vote.

yes it did, 54%-46%..Now go and poll the members of California's senate and house and see the disparity between the two.
 

samsmart

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What do you think of voter initiatives and referendums?

Like of the of

I love them. It gives the people more control seeing how the employees of the people aka the government sometimes does a lousy job. I wish the constitution was amended to allow this on the federal level.


Here is a Wikipedia definition for those who do not know.

I think it's a good way for the people to express their will on issues that politicians either won't or can't adequately address.
 

Morality Games

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I think it's a good way for the people to express their will on issues that politicians either won't or can't adequately address.

Producing a 'will' is a hard thing for an individual to do. It takes great strength of character. In groups, it is nearly impossible. The "will of the people" is a series of discontinuous impressions and impulses.
 

samsmart

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Producing a 'will' is a hard thing for an individual to do. It takes great strength of character. In groups, it is nearly impossible. The "will of the people" is a series of discontinuous impressions and impulses.

Yes, but so are the acts of politicians. And when they enact and execute legislation without adequate checks and balances from the people those politicians represent, which popular initiatives and referendums can do, then their discontinunous impressions and impulses also become individually self-serving.
 
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