Democracy Forum 4/21/23: Ballot Questions: Whose Initiatives Are They?

Host: Ann Luther, League of Women Voters of Maine

The mostly volunteer team at the League of Women Voters – Downeast who plan and coordinate this series includes: Martha Dickinson, Michael Fisher, Starr Gilmartin, Maggie Harling, Lisa Leaverton, Ann Luther, Rick Lyles, Judith Lyles, Wendilee O’Brien, Maryann Ogonowski, emerita, Lane Sturtevant, Leah Taylor, and Linda Washburn.

Democracy Forum: Participatory Democracy, encouraging citizens to take an active role in government and politics

This month:
Ballot Questions: Whose Initiatives Are They?
We’ll talk about the citizen initiative process in Maine: the sheer number of them, the money behind them, their strengths and shortcomings, home-grown vs. “from away.”
How does the initiative process work, and how is it working for Maine?
Can ordinary citizens can still run a ballot question?

Shenna Bellows, Maine Secretary of State
Todd Donovan, Professor of Political Science, Western Washington University

To learn more about this topic:
As Abortion Measures Loom, GOP Raises New Barriers to Ballot Initiatives | The Pew Charitable Trusts, February, 2023
Missouri House Passes Bill Making It Harder for Voters To Amend State Constitution – Democracy Docket, February, 2023
Policy Matters: Ballot initiatives – Press Herald, November 17,2022
League Study On Maine’s Citizens’ Initiatives And People’s Veto Referenda, Fall, 2020
Initiatives without Engagement: A Realistic Appraisal of Direct Democracy’s Secondary Effects, Joshua J. Dyck & Edward L. Lascher, Jr., Jr., 2019
Democracy Forum – Citizen Initiatives: The Devil’s in the Details, April 19, 2019
Initiative and Referendum Overview and Resources | NCSL
Citizen Initiatives & Peoples Veto | Maine Secretary of State
Citizens as Legislators: Direct Democracy in the United States, Todd Donovan and Shaun Bowler, 1998

About the host:
Ann currently serves as Treasurer of the League of Women Voters of Maine and leads the LWVME Advocacy Team. She served as President of LWVME from 2003 to 2007 and as co-president from 2007-2009. In her work for the League, Ann has worked for greater public understanding of public policy issues and for the League’s priority issues in Clean Elections & Campaign Finance Reform, Voting Rights, Ethics in Government, Ranked Choice Voting, and Repeal of Term Limits. Representing LWVME at Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, she served that coalition as co-president from 2006 to 2011. She remains on the board of MCCE and serves as Treasurer. She is active in the LWV-Downeast and hosts their monthly radio show, The Democracy Forum, on WERU FM Community Radio -which started out in 2004 as an recurring special, and became a regular monthly program in 2012. She was the 2013 recipient of the Baldwin Award from the ACLU of Maine for her work on voting rights and elections. She joined the League in 1998 when she retired as Senior Vice President at SEI Investments. Ann was a founder of the MDI Restorative Justice Program, 1999 – 2000, and served on its Executive Board.