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Initiative and Referendum

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  1. The ideas of direct involvemenr of the citizen in the government - Populist and Progressive movements.
  2. The goal of the initiative and referendum reform.
  3. The idea of initiatives as a business.
  4. The role of the media in the way voters vote.
  5. The entire voting system of initiatives is flawed.
  6. Proposition 215 or Compassionate Use Act of 1996.
  7. The Medical Marijuana Act.
  8. Opposition of Proposition 215.
  9. Proposition 215 as an example of the process of initiatives.

Initiatives and referendums, two words that extremely excite or worry people, but why? Initiatives have the power to place any measure, put forth by any citizen, on a ballot to be voted on by their fellow citizens. This worries some because of the extreme power uninformed individuals can have on the government of the United States. Weaknesses and strengths of initiatives (referendums occur less because they have to be put forth by legislation, then voted on by the people), are explored in this paper, and after reviewing both, help answer the question: do initiatives and referendums garner enough support so in time they will be used at the federal level?

[...] In a study done by Wolfinger and Greenstein in 1986, they showed that initiative can do more than exclude minorities from effective participation; it can be dangerous to their rights.?[18] They give the examples of initiatives in California which made English the official language and the issue of quarantining AIDS victims.?[19] Advanced writing on the ballot of the initiative isn't the only example of the plight minority face via the initiative. its very design, the process ensures that concerns held by a minority?any minority?will be subjected to the will of the majority.?[20] Initiatives were thought to be a check of legislation, but there is nothing to check the initiatives except the courts, but at that point, the bill is already passed. [...]

[...] The most straight-forward and simple strengths of the initiative and referendum process are the outcomes they produce and the fact none of the 26 states that have made initiative a part of their government has ever been repealed. Monumental changes in our entire governmental system including women's suffrage, restricting child labor laws, and tax cuts have been the products of initiatives. While there are many flaws in the system of initiative and referendum which people sometimes claim that instead of progressing a more democratic society, initiative and referendum empower the wealthy, public opinion polls have showed that citizens are in favor of the process. [...]

[...] Legislation had twice vetoed marijuana reform laws and Peron decided the initiative process was the only way to make significant ground. ?Some people think we just sat around the table one night and came up with it . We went through at least 20 drafts.?[24] The group of reformists struggled with the wording of the summary of the measure and the use of terms such as ?primary care giver.? The title was also a concern, as Attorney General Dan Lungren, who supported extremely stiff drug laws wanted the word marijuana in the title. [...]

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