Politicians often try to pass laws making it more difficult for citizens to petition issues onto the ballot, claiming that it’s too easy to gather all those signatures.
Speaking of easy, that’s awfully easy for politicians to say.
If they’re major party candidates, Democrats or Republicans, they usually don’t have to come up with any voter signatures at all to place themselves on the ballot. Even in the few states that require major party candidates to gather signatures, the numbers are nominal, a few hundred at most.
Funny, we certainly don’t hear former House Speaker Newt Gingrich or Texas Governor Rick Perry prattling on about how simple and carefree it is to gather thousands of signatures. That’s because presidential ballot access is sometimes much more difficult and both candidates just failed to collect the required 10,000 valid signatures to gain a spot on the Virginia ballot as Republican presidential candidates.
To place a statutory issue on the 2010 ballot in Nevada, a state sporting about a quarter of Virginia’s population, required 97,000 signatures. That’s ten times more than demanded of Gingrich and Perry. To place a statutory measure on the Arizona ballot requires 172,809 signatures; a constitutional amendment needs 259,213.
Governor Perry is challenging Virginia’s unconstitutional law banning non-residents from helping collect signatures. I hope he wins. But maybe the best way to prevent legislators from passing laws that make petitioning too difficult is to make those laws apply to them and how they get on the ballot.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.