Fair Districts is 2 companion ballot measures on the 2010 Florida ballot. The measure decreases gerrymandering of districts and prevents incumbents from redrawing district lines to insure their seat is safe. This kind of measure can make legislators more willing to compromise because they aren't just playing to the base of their party. Opponents suggest that the ballot measure might decrease minority representation and will favor Democrats who are currently underrepresented in the Florida legislature.
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Here's your chance to learn about and weigh in on ballot initiatives in your state or locality. Just think, we average citizens can help demystify the worst part of casting a ballot right from our sofas! (And while doing so get all those annoying diligent voters trying to figure out what the heck they just read out of your way so you can get home before the kick-off.)
Forget the often divisive topics (uh, gay marriage, taxation, immigration, all the big fat fights we're having) and confusing language that confronts voters on the ballot (blah blah legal blah blah small legal blah blah), ballot initiatives themselves are a controversial topic. Depending on your perspective they are either an indispensable tool of direct democracy or a process run amok that forces states into complex, expensive and sometimes poorly thought out policy. Whether you're a fan or a critic, there are things you might want to generally keep in mind when you consider voting on constitutional amendments, laws or statutes.
- In states where citizens can put things directly on the ballot, don't assume that there's some big smart process the language goes through before it comes to the ballot in front of you. While processes vary, many are way not smart. So caveat emptor when you cast your vote. (OK so maybe even legislatively generated language is not smart either, but that's another homepage.)
- There are a lot of really dumb things voters have passed and regret the morning after. Find some here
- While ostensibly putting decision-making into the hands of citizens, the high number of signatures required to place something on a ballot is more likely to put the process in the hands of well-financed interests.
- Initiatives can be way more about getting voters worked up enough to swarm the polls and vote for the candidate of choice of the people who sponsored the initiative (nevermind that he or she didn't get you excited enough to go to begin with.)
- Getting signatures for an item to get on a ballot is a business. People make real money doing it and because of that they probably like the ballot initiative process pretty dang much.
Time Magazine, How the Initiative Culture Broke California
Ballot Initiative Strategy Center; Search by state