Saturday, July 20, 2024

Citizen ballots are democracy in action

| February 8, 2024 12:00 AM

What is the benefit of a citizen ballot initiative?

Currently there are six ballot initiatives approved by the Secretary of State for signature gathering. Several are sponsored by single individuals – one by a young teenage girl! These are Montanans! None are sponsored by out-of-state corporations like the marijuana initiative was.

Montana is one of several states whose constitution allows for individual citizens to sponsor a ballot initiative to change or amend an existing law. These initiatives go through a strict process of legal and constitutional review by the Attorney General.

Initiatives are usually the result of the failure of the Legislature or other regulatory agencies to do the will of the people. This is sometimes due to political pressures exerted by the current ruling political party, powerful lobbyists or even foreign governments.

Montana’s initiative process is one that truly allows the citizens of the state to determine rules and regulations that affect their daily lives. This is truly democracy in action!

When a signature gatherer is asking for your signature, all this means is that you agree that the people of Montana should decide the particular issue with a vote, instead of bureaucrats, many who are not elected, but appointed by the Governor.

A signature is not a vote in favor or against the issue, just allowing it on the ballot. Plain and simple.

Many factions are actively opposing several of these initiatives. As with anything, political falsehoods abound to keep registered voters from giving a signature of support placing the initiative on the ballot. Who knows better, the government or the people? Don’t be fooled!

– Rick Schoening