Thoughts from Horsesass.org and Evergreen Politics

Both Evergreen Politics and Horse’s Ass wrote about (printer) Democracy yesterday, with a relatively thoughtful comment thread resulting from the HA post. David at HA initially kicked it off by pointing out that my solution would be only helpful as part of a larger reform of the initiative process, which he listed here.

Most of his ideas are good (except for the filing fee one), and I agree that we need to regularly look closely at the process to make sure it does what we want it to do.

One of the other commenters on HA pointed out that if we’re going to let people print petitions on a smaller page, we should make sure folks can read what is written. One of the states I reviewed in the post below in addition to requiring a particular size, also sets a minimum type font (I think it was 7 point). The smallest type font on my sample petition is 6 point, but for me is legible. Good point though, I should try to read something about legibility of small type fonts.

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2 Comments

Filed under general thoughts, Problems

2 responses to “Thoughts from Horsesass.org and Evergreen Politics

  1. In point of fact, probably I guess about 25 years ago, the initiative size was actually bigger than it is now in Washington. I remember it was an issue that Bill Harrington and I were involved in, arguing that because of the large size it was more expensive and could only be printed by a few printers in the state.

    There were those in the Legislature then that fought the size reduction because it would make it less expensive for the radical initiative fringe pushing back then for things like taking the sales tax off food. The Legislature finally passed the bill to reduce the size. The 11 by 17 size is logical for several reasons.

    The stock used is what 8.5 by 11 size sheets come from.

    It is large enough to distinguish it from other pieces of paper like hanouts. It has a more official look to it that voters have become used to.

    It allows enough room for 20 signatures. What your size of petitions survey does not do is say how many signatures are possible on 8.5 by 11 paper. If only 10 signatures can get on you have to have twice as many signature pages. These days with 20 to a page usually over 20,000 petitions are turned in.

    It allows for printing the full text on the back in reasonable size. Even so there have been petitions that have been folded over from 8.5 by 44 inches to allow the full text to be printed.

    To be legal the text of the initiative must all be printed on one piece of paper. Otherwise people could be asked to sign something and different pages stapled to it. That is not legal for obvious reasons.

    Too small of initiative text was one of the things even with the current petition size that was used by developers against I- 547 for Growth Management. They ran ads saying Can you read this?

    Citing cost as a concern is a bad argument. If you can not raise a couple of thousand dolars to print up an initiative how do you expect to run a campaign costing $200,000 to several million dollars. It is a good first test of support for your initiative.

    I have submitted other comments today on the initiative process not being the problem at
    http://www.MajorityRules.org/blog.

  2. I wouldn’t advocate requiring an 8.5×11 size, I would only ask for it to be available. Some campaigns would need to go with 11×17 (or even larger) because of the length of their initiative.

    I see your point about the cost of printing petitions being a bar to keeping unpopular ideas off the ballot. On the other hand, it gives an advantage to moneyed interests in the process, because there will never be a limit to how much anyone can contribute to an initiative campaign, its easy for someone with money to print petitions and hire signature gatherers. I’m just advocating for a way for people without money to get off the ground. If the idea isn’t popular, folks won’t print out a ballot and sign.

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