Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Journal editors' box of pandoras - not that at all

Journal editors are concerned this morning, link , that a recent State Supreme Court decision has turned elections "...into a game of 20 Questions that don’t matter".

If the questions don't matter; the problem lies with the questions and not with the process or procedure.  (except that process and procedure heretofore has been demonstrably lacking)

It would be a relatively simple matter to establish appropriate limits on both the number of questions (20 doesn't really seem all that bad), and on their purpose.

It seems to be; if the purpose is to enable a future decision then it is appropriate for a ballot.  But if it is to hold politicians and public servants accountable for their past service, then it can't be on a ballot. Why not?

Why couldn't school board members get a snapshot of their voter approval before they ask for hundreds of millions of mill levy and bond issue tax dollars to spend?

Why couldn't the ballot for the school board election in February offer interest and stakeholders the opportunity to express their opinion regarding the character and competence of school board members and superintendents?

A poll of people who care enough to vote is as representative a sample of people who care as any; better than most.

The editors argue;

"... it’s a waste of time as well as a false promise to voters to ask them weigh in on topics that have not been adequately vetted..."
The editors have not noticed apparently, that voters routinely weigh in on topics they don't comprehend.  Joe Monahan reports this morning;

A poll ... found many Americans don't know how the government works. The poll showed only 36% of Americans could name all three branches of the government and 35% couldn't name any of them. It also found over 60% of Americans don't know which political party controls the House of Representatives and the US Senate.
The editors argue that opening up ballots
... has the potential to deliver more disenchantment with the democratic process.
It has as well, the potential to allow voters to leave the process feeling like they have held politicians and public servants actually accountable for their public service.

The money quote comes from Bernalillo County Commission Chairwoman Debbie O’Malley who says,
“Let the people speak.”
... let the people speak about the public interests and
about the public service of the politicians and public servants in their employ.

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