You share responsibility by signing petitions
December 28, 2005
It’s not even an election year yet, and the number of ballot initiatives shaping up for Nevada in 2006 is already starting to make our heads throb.
We’re not saying ballot initiatives are bad; we’re generally in favor of democracy and voting on issues. We’re saying voters can easily get too much of a good thing.
California is the leading example of ballot weariness. Residents there couldn’t get through a November special election without sorting through eight ballot initiatives. And there are 50 in the works for 2006 in the Golden State.
So, by comparison, the 14 being proposed so far in Nevada may seem to be manageable. We’re just worried the number of ballot questions, like taxes, may never go down.
The bar for putting a question directly on the ballot is fairly high in Nevada, requiring signatures from 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the previous general election.
However, in the era of paid politics, those signatures in most cases are no longer collected by well-intentioned volunteers working on behalf of a cause. They are collected by hired hands, professional signature-collectors, who are interested in nothing more than getting a paycheck.
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That means registered voters have more responsibility than ever to make sure they understand what they’re signing there in front of the supermarket or in the booth at the mall. Petition circulators can make almost anything sound like a just and righteous crusade. Don’t let ’em fool you.
Every time you sign a petition to place an issue on the ballot, you’re committing yourself to researching that issue and making an informed choice at the polls during the next election.
You are committing yourself to playing the role of citizen-legislator, the kind we favor in Nevada. Don’t take it any less seriously.