Reforming direct democracy, according to voters' wishes

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There has been a lot of buzz in the Capitol today about a possible last-minute bill that would move all ballot propositions to November general-election ballots, rather than both general and primary elections.

It may be a new idea in the Legislature, but it's hardly the first time the issue has been raised. In May, the Public Policy Institute of California asked the question in its statewide survey (Page 15). The proposed reform drew broad support -- 59 percent of all likely voters, 60 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of Republicans.

Here is the text of the question: "Reforms have been suggested to address issues that arise in the initiative process. Please say whether you would favor or oppose each of the following reform proposals. [rotate questions 42 to 45] How about only allowing initiatives in November general elections, instead of in any statewide election, such as primaries or special elections?"

The same survey found, as have several previous PPIC surveys, that large majorities of voters believe the initiative process is in need of either major (37 percent) or minor (40 percent) changes.

This was the only time the PPIC poll asked specifically about allowing initiatives only on general-election ballots.

Given the first-blush response of voters, it would seem they would be very receptive to the idea. That hardly squares with the assertions of Republicans, including strategist Rob Stutzman, who made this statement to the Los Angeles Times: "This is an egregious, self-interested move by Democrats and the unions who support them to try to alter the Constitution to give themselves a political advantage."

Perhaps that would be the motivation of the moment, but just four months ago even 56 percent of Republicans thought it was a fine idea.

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95 percent accurate
Over the last 25 presidential elections, Ventura County voters have backed the winner 24 times, or over 95 percent of the time. It is one of only a handful of counties in the nation that has been such a predictable bellwether.
about Timm Herdt
Timm Herdt
The Ventura County Star's Sacramento Bureau Chief Timm Herdt on state issues and politics from Sacramento to Ventura County. He can be contacted at
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