It was spring, though it felt like winter, when volunteers for Reclaim Idaho trudged from door to door, seeking signatures for a petition to expand Medicaid coverage, a measure the legislature had repeatedly refused to consider. Idaho temperatures had a crisp autumnal chill, but perhaps it felt like spring, on November 6, 2018, when 60 percent of Idaho’s voters voted “yes” for this ballot initiative.
For 2020, Reclaim Idaho intended to push for a ballot initiative to raise taxes on corporations and the wealthy to fund education, and spring is the crunch time to get sufficient signatures to pass legal muster. But COVID-19 has put the kibosh on Idaho’s plans for ballot initiatives as well as for those in each of the 24 states (plus DC) and thousands of localities that allow them. After all, how do you collect original signatures when physical distancing prevails? This leaves advocates of direct democracy worried.
What is direct democracy? In contrast to representative democracy, direct democracy is when the people themselves, not their elected representatives, exercise legislative authority via a direct ballot vote. In the US, while representative democracy holds sway at the national level, two forms of direct democracy are practiced at the state and local level: 1) ballot initiatives and binding referendums, and 2) recall of elected officials.
Perhaps the state best known for its pervasive ballot initiatives is California, whose 1978 measure capping property taxes is often cited as a harbinger of “tax cut” politics nationally. This year, an initiative intended to defang that measure appears to have gained enough signatures prior to the pandemic to make the November 2020 ballot.Read Debby’s Full Article at Nonprofit Quarterly