I'm from Missouri

This site is named for the famous statement of US Congressman Willard Duncan Vandiver from Missouri : "I`m from Missouri -- you'll have to show me." This site is dedicated to skepticism of official dogma in all subjects. Just-so stories are not accepted here. This is a site where controversial subjects such as evolution theory and the Holocaust may be freely debated.

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

My biggest motivation for creating my own blogs was to avoid the arbitrary censorship practiced by other blogs and various other Internet forums. Censorship will be avoided in my blogs -- there will be no deletion of comments, no closing of comment threads, no holding up of comments for moderation, and no commenter registration hassles. Comments containing nothing but insults and/or ad hominem attacks are discouraged. My non-response to a particular comment should not be interpreted as agreement, approval, or inability to answer.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Reform of ballot proposition rules

The shenanigans that went on in the South Dakota government's handling of the Amendment E ("Jail-4-judges") proposition -- see here and here -- made me aware of the need for reform of ballot proposition rules. I suspect that the possibility of similar shenanigans exists in other states as well. Here are my suggestions for reform:

Legislative gag rule for "direct" initiatives

Formal state legislative votes, resolutions, debates, and speeches about "direct" initiatives should be prohibited. Similar formal actions by other bodies of government officials -- e.g., city councils and county commissions -- should be discouraged or prohibited.

State ballot initiatives are classified as "direct" initiatives and "indirect" initiatives (initiatives are also classified as statutory or constitutional). A "direct" initiative is supposed to go directly on the ballot and an "indirect" initiative goes through the legislature first. A "direct" initiative should be treated as such.

Official summary or "explanation" of a proposition

Official summaries or "explanations" are unfortunately necessary because: (1) many ballot propositions are too long for many people to read entirely; (2) a proposition's language may be hard to understand; and (3) many people are concerned about the potential fiscal impact of the proposition. However, I propose the following rules to help assure neutrality and guard against prejudicing the election:

(1) The official summary should not go on the ballot. The official summary should appear only in an official voter's guide along with pro and con arguments presented by the supporters and opponents of the proposition. An "objective" or "balanced" summary on the ballot is like the "best" butter that the March Hare put in the Mad Hatter's watch in Alice in Wonderland. In California, campaigning within a certain distance of election sites is prohibited, so why should the possibility of campaigning be allowed on the ballot? Also, voters are likely to tie up voting booths while reading and mulling over these official summaries -- this is a particular problem with electronic voting because there are likely to be reductions in the numbers of voting booths because of the great expense of the electronic voting machines.

(2) If there is a controversy or question over the interpretation of a particular provision of the proposition, the summary should just quote the provision and then let the pro and con arguments discuss the different interpretations. An example was the controversy over the meaning of "judicial immunity" in Amendment E's definition of "judge": "Justice, judge, magistrate judge, judge pro tem, and all other persons claiming to be shielded by judicial immunity. "

(3) Speculation concerning the initiative's constitutionality or the possibility of lawsuits should not be allowed in the official summary. Many voters have a knee-jerk dislike for anything that might cost tax money, no matter how minor the cost, and such speculation could be the kiss of death for a proposition that the courts might find to be constitutional if passed. Such speculation belongs in the pro and con arguments in the official voter's guide.

Ballot

To avoid any possibility of prejudicing the vote, the short title of the ballot initiative (e.g., Proposition 2, Amendment E) should either stand alone or be accompanied by no more than a brief descriptive title of maybe twenty words or less. As discussed above, the official summary should not be on the ballot.

Voter's guide

An official voter's guide -- whether printed or online -- should contain the official summaries, the pro and con arguments, and the complete propositions. In California, the printed official voter's guide is set up this way (I don't know about the online versions). In the case of South Dakota, one official online voter's guide contained only the official summaries ("explanations") and the complete propositions and another official online voter's guide contained only the official summaries ("explanations") and the pro and con arguments.

Pro and con arguments in the official voter's guides

At least one rebuttal of the pro and con arguments should be allowed. The California voter's guide allows one rebuttal. The South Dakota voter's guide with the pro and con arguments allows no rebuttals.

Voters' booths

To help prevent voters from tying up the voters' booths or stations by reading and mulling over official voter's guides or other election material, voters should be allowed to take only a single sheet of paper (showing voting intentions) into the voters' booths. In order to see that voters are not violating this rule, voters' booths should not be enclosed. Electronic voting screens should have a blinder on each side to ensure privacy.

I think it would be interesting to do a comparative study of the states' ballot proposition rules, using the above suggestions as a guide.

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8 Comments:

Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

> Formal state legislative votes, resolutions, debates, and speeches about "direct" initiatives should be prohibited. <

Now the asshole wants to limit freedom of speech. What is next?

Saturday, December 02, 2006 1:42:00 AM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

I apologize for the vicious and unprovoked vulgarity of the preceding comment. Unfortunately, my no-deletions pledge prevents me from deleting it.

This is a quality blog.

Monday, December 04, 2006 1:28:00 AM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

What is vulgar about pointing out your hypocrisy? You are trying to limit freedom of speech.

If you want to maintain a "quality blog", have you considered not being the source of the majority of ad hominem attachs?

Monday, December 04, 2006 12:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

> I apologize for the vicious and unprovoked vulgarity of the preceding comment. <

Had you considered cleaning up your own house first? You are the #1 practitioner of gratuitous insults.

Are you trying to distract us from your attack on freedom of speech?

Monday, December 04, 2006 12:48:00 PM  
Blogger Larry Fafarman said...

Voice In The Wilderness said...

>>>>> What is vulgar about pointing out your hypocrisy? You are trying to limit freedom of speech. <<<<<<

What is vulgar is the way you pointed out my alleged hypocrisy. I invited a large number of respectable people -- experts about elections -- to visit this article, and I am very embarrassed that they may see your stupid comment.

I would have answered your comment had it been politely stated.

Monday, December 04, 2006 3:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Voice In The Wilderness said...

> I would have answered your comment had it been politely stated. <

You would have answered my comment if you were capable of doing it.

If you don't want to be embarrased, you are certainly going about things the wrong way. Why not start by trying to answer questions with other than insults and escapism?

Monday, December 04, 2006 10:42:00 PM  
Anonymous sherry d said...

Larry,

Perhaps Voice should not have called you an "asshole" but this is one of the relatively rare times that you were not the one to initiate insults. If you want a "quality blog" you should look to your own lapses first.

"Luke 6:41 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? ..."

When I see insults on this blog I find that two out of three times you have been the one to initiate them, usually it is when you have no answer to a point that has been raised, or you find yourself losing an argument.

If you want a "quality blog" you will have to set an example. Thus far you have failed.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger JanieBelle said...

"Had you considered cleaning up your own house first? You are the #1 practitioner of gratuitous insults."

Now that's patently unfair. Dohn A. Javison is by FAR the #1 practitioner of gratuitous insults. Nobody comes close.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006 7:22:00 PM  

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