Isn’t there a reason that the petition page is almost twice the size of normal printer paper? Law requires that the entire change in law be printed on the petition, and that can be a lot of words.

This would only change the minimum size of a petition. If an initiative sponsor needed to print on larger paper (say 8.5 by 14 or larger) they could. For example, though, the sample petition on 8.5 by 11 paper on the site uses a initiative that changed the way Washingtonians voted. You can fit pretty complex ideas onto a standard sheet of paper.

Don’t we already vote on enough crazy initiatives? Won’t this increase the number of dumb ideas that make the ballot?

Many of the problems with the current initiative process aren’t because there is too much access to it by every day citizens. The problems are there because the only groups with full access to the process are the groups that can afford it. Hiring lawyers to write your initiative and hiring or organizing signature gatherers and printing initiatives can be prohibitive to all but a few moneyed interests. This lack of access changes what we see on the ballot.

If we open up the process by allowing anyone with a printer to publish petitions and collect signatures, there will be more initiatives on the ballot that truly reflect the public will.

Shouldn’t there be some sort of hurdle for initiative sponsors? We don’t want to see every crackpot idea get on the ballot do we?

There already is a pretty big hurdle. More than 200,000 people need to sign an initiative petition before it can get on the ballot. This won’t make convincing people to sign a petition any easier, it will just open up the process of signing and distributing petitions easier for the average citizen.

Aren’t 11×14 initiative petitions normal? I mean, don’t other states have petitions that large?

Actually no. Washington’s minimum size for a petition is actually the largest in the country (as far as I can tell). Some states like Florida actually have a maximum size of 8.5×11 and the second largest to Washington’s is 8.5×11.

Even within Washington, in cities that allow for initiative and referendum, the 11×14 size is extreme. Both Seattle and Spokane allow 8.5×11 sized petitions.

Have another question? Leave it below as a comment and I’ll answer it for you.


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