Procedural election laws regulate the conduct of state elections and provide for greater transparency and fairness in statewide ballots. These laws ensure that the public votes separately on incongruous bills and protects the electorate from uncertainties contained in omnibus packages. As demonstrated by a slew of recent court cases, however, interest groups that are opposed to the objective of a ballot question are utilizing these election laws with greater frequency either to prevent a state electorate from voting on an initiative or to overturn a ballot question that was already decided in the initiative’s favor. This practice is subverting the original intent of procedural election laws and stripping citizens of the right to participate in a direct democratic process by nullifying their votes.
While procedural election laws were originally implemented as a means of safeguarding the average voter, they have now become an important tool for special interest groups to block legislation they oppose without having to attack the actual substance of the bill. This Comment will argue that parties are misusing procedural election laws and that such election laws must either be amended or replaced to once again achieve their underlying purpose of protecting voters. It will begin by examining the history and purpose of some of the most common procedural election laws on the books. It will then examine how some of these laws are used to block the Marsy’s Law initiative, which has recently been proliferating throughout the states. Finally, this Comment will emphasize some of the more serious consequences resulting from these practices and provide recommendations for how to alleviate them while still protecting the public interest.
Don't Change the Subject: How State Election Laws Can Nullify Ballot Questions,
Dick. L. Rev.
Available at: https://ideas.dickinsonlaw.psu.edu/dlr/vol125/iss2/6
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