Thursday, November 24, 2005

Should Referenda in Maine Have More Requirements?

The Bangor Daily News reports that the citizen initiative process might be subject to a few new requirements in the near future. Some of them seem sensible enough: financial disclosures and other information should be made available on the internet. I'm always for transparency in politics and government.

One recently enacted reform got me thinking. Now petitioners must let potential signers know that it costs the state about $95k to put a referendum question out to voters. Why not institute an optional bond of citizen initiatives, in exchange for reduced signature requirements? Instead of requiring 50k or more signatures, the process could require 20k and a bond. If the initiative failed at the polls, the bond would be forfeit. If the initiative passed, the bond would be returned to the petitioners. Some European countries do this with their parliamentary elections, with good results.



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