Thursday, June 07, 2007

TAKING AIM AT THE RIGHT TO VOTE

Charlie Crist says he's the "people's governor." He can do the people's
business — and uphold their voice — by vetoing Senate Bill 900.

The measure, authored by state Sen. Bill Posey, would throw up several
high hurdles designed to block citizens' proposed constitutional
amendments.

Though the Rockledge Republican invoked his mother's name in branding
his bill the "Beatrice T. Posey Truth in Petition Act," there's nothing
American, apple pie or "mom" about this.

By imposing tight submission deadlines and fueling revocation campaigns
before a vote even occurs, SB900 chips away at the democratic process
and the people's right to petition their government.

Posey's measure gained traction in the waning days of the Legislature,
getting a significant push from the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The
bill backers duly noted the passage of sketchy constitutional
amendments
ranging from pregnant-pig protection to the massively expensive
class-size reduction program.

Explaining his eponymous bill, Posey says his mother once signed a
petition with the understanding that he had supported it. When she
learned otherwise, she was upset that she could not revoke her
signature.

Floridians may be reasonably concerned about cluttering their state's
Constitution. To raise the bar, voters last year approved a 60 percent
requirement for passage of future amendments.

But Posey and the chamber are going too far with their "reform."

For starters, a 30-day deadline for submitting signed petition
virtually
guarantees the employment of more professional signature gatherers —
not
necessarily a good thing.

The revocation provision further politicizes and gums up the process.
As
it stands now, if people don't like a ballot measure, or change their
mind anywhere along the way, they can just vote "no" on Election Day.

Ultimately, that's what's at stake here: the people's right to direct
democracy.

When lawmakers like Posey want to amend the Constitution, they do so
simply by placing their amendment on the ballot. In fact, the
Legislature accounts for 80 percent of ballot measures.

SB900 is nothing more than a back-door bid to chill the people's
petition process. If Posey & Co. truly want to fairness and equity,
they, too, can go out and collect 611,000 valid signatures, just like
the citizens they represent. Meantime, Crist should veto SB900.

ANTI-DEMOCRATIC

- Require petition forms to be submitted to election supervisors within
30 days of being signed by voters.

- Give voters 150 days to revoke their signatures.

- Require election supervisors to make revocation forms available.

- Make petition circulators wear "prominent badges" identifying them as
paid.

- Take effect Aug. 1.

Stuart News Editorial

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