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Editorial: Do away with the initiative process

By Opinions Board
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 4, 2004
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The state of Arizona had many important propositions on the ballot this year, most notably 102 and 200.

Proposition 102 was of special importance to college students because it would have afforded universities statewide the right to hold stock in companies that create university-engineered products. The proposition would have been a boon to all institutions of higher education - especially to the UA, where budgets are being slashed across the board with no relief in sight.

However, what seemed like a logical, straightforward and purely beneficial measure was defeated Tuesday. Despite the fact that Democrats and Republicans supported the proposition, despite the fact that it enjoyed universal support from a notoriously quarrelsome and stingy state Legislature, despite the fact that, had it been passed, it would have cost taxpayers absolutely nothing, Arizona voters said "no" to all the benefits it would provide.

Common sense and practicality were also bludgeoned by the passage of Proposition 200, which requires proof of citizenship in order to register to vote and use public services. Under the cheap façade of protecting Arizonans from illegal immigration, the proposition creates unnecessary and indefensible hassles for law-abiding citizens who need government services, and will cost taxpayers yet-untold sums to enforce.

In short, Arizonans this year decided to reject a cost-free proposal to reinforce the intellectual property rights of state universities, and to pass a despicably racist and fiscally irresponsible one instead. Reading the propositions' literature, it is patently clear that Arizonans voted the way they did not out of an error in reasoning or a difference in ideology, but out of wholesale ignorance.

These results speak loudly to the irredeemable flaws of the Arizona initiative process.

As vocally as America clings to its status as a protector of democracy, it does not practice democracy in its purest form. Instead, we have a representative democracy, one in which we elect officials to act on our behalf.

However, here in Arizona - one of the few states to have an initiative and referendum system - we do not allow our legislators to do the jobs appointed to them.

Instead, critical decisions are left in the hands of a voting populace with neither the time nor the will to educate itself. As one of the fastest-growing states in the nation, we need to ensure that our legislative system is conducive to well-ordered and reasonable governance, and to relinquish control over the lawmaking process to those with the knowledge and will to create rational legislation.

In short, we need to abandon the initiative process.

Arizona's experiment in direct democracy is a failure, and its continued existence is a danger to the stability and viability of Arizona law. It should be eliminated now.

Staff opinions are the opinion of the Arizona Daily Wildcat opinions board and written by one of its members. Its members are Susan Bonicillo, Nate Buchik, Evan Caravelli, Brett Fera, Caitlin Hall, and Andrea Kelly.

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