Online Signature Gathering for California Initiatives

Publication Date: June 2008

Publisher: Center for Governmental Studies

Author(s): Walter S. Baer; Roy Ulrich

Research Area: Ballot Initiatives

Keywords: Signature gathering; Initiatives, Online petition

Type: Report

Coverage: California


Rather than providing the average citizen with a way to make his voice heard, the initiative process has become just another way for special interests to advance their agenda. There are signature-gathering companies, lawyers who draft the measures for well-healed clients, and political consultants who work to pass or defeat the measures. It is fair to call it the fourth branch of state government, except that it lacks the normal checks and balances attributable to the other three branches. While obtaining signatures is intended to show that a proposed initiative has broad voter support, qualification in practice depends largely on how much money the proponents spend on paid petition circulators who gather voters' signatures.