Voters can be sophisticated. In 2018, a majority of the voters in Florida voted for a conservative governor, but they also voted to give prisoners the right to vote, something the Republican Governor had opposed. The voters showed that they were able to distinguish measures from men. Politics is not just about tribal partisanship. Voters demand more choice. And they are able to exercise their judgement. Florida is not unique. This is a global trend. A large majority of voters all over the world – according to opinion polls – want more referendums. But are they capable of making decisions on complex issues? And aren’t such votes an invitation to ill-considered populism? This book answers these questions and shows what the effect of referendums have on public policy, on welfare and well-being, and outlines how some of the criticisms of referendums and initiatives can be remedied.
. Bates, ruled that the average voter could not have understood proposition 140 (a ballot measure which imposed lifetime term limits on certain state positions). Jones v. Bates is but one of many recent examples of judicial intervention in the initiative process. In the past decade over half of all voter-approved initiatives (in the states which most frequently use the initiative) have been challenged in the courts (54 per cent), and in more than half of the cases (55 per cent), the courts have invalidated part or all of the challenged initiative. It should be noted
, imposed new transparency requirements on Amtrak – was introduced by a bi-partisan group in the House of Representatives, including Pennsylvania Republican Bill Shuster and Oregon Democrat Peter DeFazio, and passed 316–101, with 132 Republicans and 184 Democrats in favor.84 Similarly, in November 2017, the voters of Boulder, Colorado enacted new transparency requirements as part of the effort to municipalize their local electric utility. Frustrated that the city council had conducted many municipalization-related meetings behind closed doors, voters approved a ballot
no significant state or public interest in curtailing debate and discussion of a ballot measure”. And he added that “the integrity of the political system will be adequately protected if contributors are identified in a public filing revealing the amounts contributed” 27 . Thus, in America campaign contributions are treated as a First Amendment
. 42 Ibid. 43 Cited by S. Burrish , “Ballot measures spur high turnout” , Sioux Falls Argus , 8 November 2006
and ballot design. In the case of Australia, an additional variable to measure the use of ticket voting is included. Another variable related to the ballot measures if party labels are stated on STV ballots. The electoral quota is excluded because it measures a similar phenomenon to the number of valid votes (there is an extremely high correlation of 0.98 between the two variables). In any case, valid votes is a more suitable variable because independents are focused on attracting as many votes as possible; achieving just a quota, which is sometimes the aim of party
numbers of frequent referendums can lead to a lower turnout. D. Schmidt (1989) Citizen Lawmakers: The Ballot Initiative Revolution, Philadelphia, Temple University Press, p. 50. 38 Dan Smith and Caroline Tolbert (2004) Educated by Initiative: The Effects of Direct Democracy on Citizens and Political Organisations, Ann Arbor, Michigan University Press, p. 62. 39 Smith and Tolbert, Educated by Initiative, p. 62. 40 Cited by S. Burrish (2006) ‘Ballot Measures Spur High Turnout’, Sioux Falls Argus, 8 November. 37 Citizen initiated referendums41 Table 2