Friday, December 16, 2005

Dark Side Petition Hordes

Good on MassEquality. They are going to cull the 147,000 signatures to put an amendment to rescind same-sex marriage on the 2008 ballot.

They do not expect to find 81,000 fraudulent signatures, which would nullify the petition drive. However, according to an article in Bay Windows. "MassEquality expects to find numerous examples of fraud, and the organization hopes that will discredit the effort to pass the amendment."

Conga-rats: BW interviewed then political director, Marc Solomon. The board just promoted him as the new head of the organization, with the title Campaign Director. It couldn't happen to a more driven and efficient guy.

Citizens using KnowThyNeighbor.org and MassEquality only have until January 6th to protest fraud. And they can't even get to work until the Secretary of State releases the lists, maybe at the end of this week.

His take on the doomed effort is:
The overall goal is to highlight that the integrity of this process is being undermined and to show that our opponents will really stop at nothing to advance this very extreme and very mean-spirited amendment. And that includes paying out-of-state signature collectors who use deceptive and sometimes fraudulent means to gather signatures.
We here have our own overlapping concerns. With ballot initiatives increasingly used here, in California and the other half of the nation where they are legal for commercial (big pharma, for one) and narrow special-interests (as in this case), it's time to return the tool to its original purpose.

A good count on how dirty this effort is should spur the legislature to examine paid petition signature gatherers and other questionable aspects of the process. That should also open the larger issue of how we can tame or at least train this initiative beast.

Yes, citizens should have a final word on irresponsible legislation. But letting crackpots crack the pot we share works very poorly. California ended up robbing the poor and middle-class, telling students that their education was unimportant and underfunded, and on and on. Also, the sleazy and dishonest anti-gay efforts in Maine and here highlight the kinds of abuse we should prevent.

It's a call to Senate President Bobby Travaglini (oops, he's Robert now that he graduated from City Council). Let's get a joint legislative committee examining this process.

This time around, we saw that the anti-SSM forces lost in a General Court vote and immediately started an almost identical drive, in clear violation of the spirit of ballot initiatives. Likewise, indecisive AG Tom Reilly pretended that the new one does not violate the commonwealth constitutional prohibition against trying to overturn judicial decisions.

We state it now, even though the existing format for ballot initiatives would benefit left-wing special interests as well, the current methods are dirty, illogical and of no service to the citizens. Clean 'em up. Straighten 'em up.

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