November 25, 2006

Healey: Question 1 Results Prove Viability of Voter Initiative

Marc Comtois

Robert Healey, Cool Moose Party Lt. Governor candidate, writes in a letter-to-the-editor that appeared in Friday's Warwick Beacon (and probably in other local papers):

In the aftermath of Question 1 there is an interesting point for those who support Voter Initiative.

Too often labor and others with vested interests in maintaining the status quo of legislative access via lobbyists have indicated that the initiative process would be too easily manipulated by those special interests with money.

These opponents of initiative have already purchased their protection and see initiative as an assault on their stronghold. Thus, they argue that anyone with tons of money could use the initiative system to circumvent the process.

The vote on Question 1 is a direct confirmation that such an argument is specious. The amount of money spent in support of Question 1 dwarfed the money spent in opposition.

If, as initiative opponents state, money can buy a vote, then why was it that such did not happen?

Buying elections is still in the purview of political parties, but the reality is that because someone with money wants something it still can be voted down by an electorate after an open and public debate on the issue.

Sure, there was effort to influence opinion. Sure, there were mindless voters in the process. But, through it all, the public was heard on the issue.

So, now, just what is the argument against voter initiative? The ability to buy influence is still concentrated in the lobbying process and away from the voters, but the argument that the voters can be swayed by a corporate interest with deep pockets is no longer a realistic argument.

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Agree wholeheartedly with Bob Healey. The defeat of the casino referendum absolutely blows up the arguments routinely used against voter initiative. We all clearly understand why legislators don't want it. They lose power.

Posted by: Tim at November 25, 2006 9:16 AM

In fact, the pro side outspent the anti by what, three to one? Great point, Bob.

Posted by: SusanD at November 25, 2006 11:22 AM

My support for VI has been shaken a bit, not by question 1 but by question 2. Liberal interests converged on RI and ran a campaign of questionable integrity. How many truly understood that a felon on his first day of parole would be eligible to vote?

The man recently convicted of stabbing his brother to death received 20 years, only 2 to serve. He won't miss an election!

My support for VI continues. But conservatives will need to become more active and better organized to ensure voters are presented with both sides of issues.

The GOP failed miserably in this regard, and left Sen. Raptakis, a Democrat, the lone voice of reason to debate the issue. A little noise from our Republican leaders and this bad referendum could have been defeated.

Posted by: rightri at November 25, 2006 12:30 PM

I see your point, though I think the CW would be that the very voters driven to the polls for Q1 are what put Q2 over the top in a close vote. That, and the exceptionally vague and obtuse reading of the question (which bolsters your point). No doubt,mischief can be done by those for or against any given VI issuie. Nonetheless, as Healey has pointed out, there can be little doubt that the money argument has been proven hollow.

Posted by: Marc Comtois at November 25, 2006 1:01 PM
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