Rep. Denise Provost (27th Somerville) strikes the right and essential note with me. She is in for the long fight, if necessary, to make the ballot initiative process more reasonable and better for us all.
She joined us to speak to her bill H1830 and complementing legislation such as S12. These would bring us in line with other states as well as the original aims of plebiscites to amend our MA constitution or repeal and add laws.
Her 1830 would up the requirement to get an initiative in the works from 3% of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election to 7%. She is quick to note that not only is our current requirement the lowest among the 24 states and D.C. that have a form of the process, but that with fewer and fewer citizens actually casting ballots, the 7% roughly equals our original requirements. In our current system, about 1% of eligible voters can drive a petition to ballot. She explained the history of MA’s process from 1917.
Rep. Provost discussed how overly easy initiatives are “an end run about the legislative process,” without the public process and very little transparency. Particularly in the new post-Citizens United era, she noted that such ballots are “less and less about people and more and more about money.”
She delves into the criticisms of H1830 and S12 that would limit the subject matter for initiatives. For example, some groups chant, “Let the people vote!” and call increasing the signature requirements an “onerous” way of limiting grassroots democracy. In addition, she spoke to how interest groups have used paid signature gatherers to skew the process under the pretext of citizen movements.
Listen in as she decries “how our democratic process can be highjacked.” She also forecasts the current bills, which if they do not advance, will appear in the next legislative session.
I join her in a call to let people know, folk you influence and your legislators, that you support reforms here.