Incoming Kansas Secretary of State proposes initiative and referendum process (updated)

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November 23, 2010

By Al Ortiz

TOPEKA, Kansas: Incoming Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who was elected to the position in the November 2 general election, wants state residents to get more involved in their state government, proposing that an intiative and referendum process be implemented. This process is currently used in 26 states.

However, an editorial by The Kansan stated that the proposal by the new Secretary of State should not be implemented in the state, stating, "Because of the number of signatures required to bring a proposition question to the ballot, millions often are required to hire people to gather the necessary signatures in the prescribed time period...Even in cases of frivolous ballot questions, propositions cost the state significantly in administration costs when pages must be added to the ballot. Propositions may have been a good issue on which to campaign, but they are not a good fit for a practical state like Kansas." The editorial first listed the new Attorney General as the proponent of implementing the process, however a correction by the publication later stated it was in fact Kobach who called for initiative and referendum.[1][2]

An initiative process allows citizens to propose or initiate a statute or constitutional amendment. The referendum process allows citizens to refer a statute passed by the legislature to the ballot so that voters can enact or repeal the measure. Kansas is not the only state flirting with the idea of initiative and referendum, as Connecticut voters, in March, revealed in a poll that the I&R process is strongly supported in the state, with 65% in favor of a ballot initiative law, 30% showing opposition, and 5% undecided.

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