Suckers restrict right of initiative

Letter to the editor

Posted: Thursday, November 11, 2004

The right of initiative allowed the voters of Alaska to enact laws when the Legislature was unwilling or unable to do so. It was a crucial right guaranteed to us by the Alaska Constitution. Unfortunately, Alaskans virtually destroyed this right at the recent election by enacting Proposition 1.

Previously, an initiative could be placed on the ballot with signatures equal to 10 percent of the number of voters who voted in the previous general election. Now, an initiative will need signatures equal to 10 percent of the number of voters that voted in the previous general election, which must include at least 7 percent of the number of voters that voted in each of the 30 house districts.

Alaskans were told that this would make the initiative process more "democratic," and that this would prevent well-funded Lower 48 interest groups from running initiatives in Alaska. In fact, the cost of complying with 31 different signature requirements, and the need to travel around the state to obtain these signatures, will actually prevent ordinary Alaskans from placing an initiative on the ballot. Only those Alaskans who can get substantial Outside funding will be able to participate in the initiative process.

The true purpose of Proposition 1 was to destroy the initiative process. It has succeeded. I am surprised that Alaskans would surrender their right of initiative by making it virtually impossible to exercise, but, quoting P.T. Barnum, "There are suckers born every minute."

Ken Jacobus


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