The recent failed effort to repeal a new state law limiting the duties of the state superintendent of public instruction reiterated a long-held belief: Wyoming’s referendum laws are among the most stringent in the nation. State lawmakers should consider whether the laws are too stringent. At the same time, let’s not go too far. California’s proposition system is a prime example of direct democracy run amok, where, as a result of unintended consequences, public power has often rendered the state’s Legislature ineffective. Wyoming’s is a republican form of government in which we elect — and therefore trust — our citizen Legislature to make decisions for us. This isn’t a pure democracy where we get a say on every issue. Imagine how messy state government would become if every issue were put to a vote. Trouble is: Where do we begin to ease the restrictions? It appears to be the proverbial chicken-and-egg issue.
Supporters of a public vote on the constitutionality of Senate File 104, the superintendent of public instruction bill, needed 37,606 signatures from two-thirds of the state’s 23 counties to get the initiative on the ballot. In a little more than two months, they turned in only 21,991 just minutes before deadline.
If so many Wyomingites were furious that their votes for Superintendent Cindy Hill had been nullified by Gov. Matt Mead and the Legislature, shouldn’t 37,606 signatures have been easily attainable?
The 37,606 number represented 15 percent of voters who voted in the last election.
Should the threshold be 10 or five percent of the voters in the last election, as in some other states?
What is the ideal number, and why?
Should petition drives be allowed more than a 90-day window, which is actually less than that when you account for the time it takes the secretary of state’s office to certify and print the petitions. This year, the 90-day clock started ticking when the Legislature adjourned on Feb. 27, but the petitions weren’t ready for circulation until March 21.
Full Article: Wyoming ballot access should be fair, but not easy.