Protected Citizens Ballot Initiatives

Citizen Initiatives written and passed by our voters have a rich and important history in our state. This constitutionally protected right is utilized more and more, as our legislators fail to solve the pressing needs of Arizonans. However, this pathway of direct democracy is under attack. Every session, legislators attempt to manipulate and complicate the requirements and controls they place over our right to independently place our issues on our ballots. Last year alone, across the country 16 states introduced more than 120 pieces of legislation directly restricting the ballot initiative process. Legislative attacks like this have ramped up significantly in the last few years. These continuing attempts to add more roadblocks and obstacles between voters and our Arizona ballot will not end without the presence of a legislature more strongly committed to the accessibility of our democracy.

Ballot initiatives can be powerful vehicles for change. They have the ability to move beyond gridlocked party politics, to offer ordinary people a clearer path to real solutions. With the growing flood of dirty money in our politics, citizen ballot initiatives can effectively check the overreach corporate power. Here in Arizona, we’ve seen our initiative process successfully raise our minimum wage when the legislature would not. As a response to our legislature’s failure to fund public education, we saw an initiative attempt which gathered more than a quarter of a million signatures in only six weeks.

Photo: AZPM

As a response to our legislature’s failure to fund public education, we saw an initiative attempt which gathered more than a quarter of a million signatures in only six weeks. This powerful tool of the people has the ability to push for and enact policy measures to re-enfranchise voters, expand the economic rights and opportunities of working people, and protect us from bad legislation. It is imperative that we protect and strengthen the people’s constitutional right to direct democracy before corporate-controlled legislators virtually prohibit the use of our initiative process.

I answer your questions:

You are almost right—but we can fight back if we organize more effectively and quickly. They fear this mighty instrument of ours. The numerous attacks and restrictions that they placed on our signature gathering, which they explicitly allow on their own petitions, can be rolled back by a simple majority. We can then refer the stronger protections to the ballot for our best bet to keep the dirty hands of the Trump Party off of our rights.