Of volunteers and signature gathering

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webmaster | 11/29/13
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There is little doubt about the historical veracity of one statement in the text of a recently vetoed California law that would have required at least some signatures for ballot initiatives to be gathered by volunteers instead of paid workers:

“The voters amended the California Constitution to reserve for themselves the power of the initiative because financially powerful interests, including railroad companies, exercised a corrupting influence over state politics.”

In fact, the initiative process did work that way for quite awhile. The best example might have been the so-called Clean Environment Initiative of 1972, a measure that lost – but whose goals have almost all been achieved: a moratorium on new nuclear power plants in California, taking lead out of gasoline and many more provisions now taken for granted.

That initiative, organized by the populist People’s Lobby group headed by the legendary (among initiative aficionados) Ed and Joyce Koupal, is considered the start of the modern initiative era because it opened up shopping malls to petition carriers...

 

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