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The Initiative and Referendum Law Gets Some Press Coverage!

Here are two stories – very similar in tone and language – informative to supportive in tone – on various bills Del. Rasoul has introduced.

Here is the IVN story and here is from the Augusta Free Press:


Virginia Delegate Sam Rasoul is no stranger to election reform. He has championed a number of legislative efforts to improve elections in the past, and has introduced a new package of election reforms for the upcoming legislative session.


Here are the 4 bills in the package:

Public Financing of Campaigns (HB 275): The bill would create a voluntary program for administering public funds to qualified candidates campaigning for elected office.

Ending Gerrymandering (HB 276): The bill establishes a 7-member Virginia Interim Redistricting Commission. The commission would be tasked with finding a redistricting remedy when any congressional or state legislative district is declared unlawful or unconstitutional.

Direct Democracy (HJ 34): The bill would reform the ballot initiative and referendum process to allow people to propose and enact laws and constitutional amendments by ballot initiative, to reject legislative measures by referendum, and to remove elected officials by recall.

Lowering Voting Age (HJ 33): The bill would allow citizens 16 years of age or older to register to vote and vote in local elections.

Now HJ 34 is the one that I support (and helped draft based on Art. III, Sect. 1 of the North Dakota Constitution) but I am convinced that Del. Rasoul is the real deal.  He wants to open up the process.  I am certainly not in favor of 16 year olds voting but I am not sure yet on the public financing or redistricting reform.  I suspect the US Supreme Court will force all the states to police their redistricting practices.  I hope I am wrong.

Now here is the Augusta Free Press:

Del. Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) introduced four new bills on election reform in Virginia. His bills include voluntary public financing of campaigns, redistricting reform, and two constitutional amendments that would allow 16-year-olds to vote in local elections, and a change the Initiatives and Referendums process.


Direct Democracy (HJ 34): Allows the people the power to propose and enact laws and constitutional amendments by initiative, to reject legislative acts by referendum, and to remove certain elected officials by recall.

Time for the voters to get behind this constitutional amendment.  Contact your delegate and senator today.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)

2 Responses to “The Initiative and Referendum Law Gets Some Press Coverage!”

  1. Bob Shannon

    I have championed Referendum Reform for many years, our wise Founders understood the benefit of having as much decision making as possible in the hands of the citizens and not in legislators when possible. The evidence is in and it is clear that in the 27 states ( most of them West of the Mississippi ) 4 distinct benefits are clear, lower taxes, lower spending, greater voter turnout in off cycle elections when a referendum is on the ballot, and more creative solutions because of greater citizen engagement.
    The naysayers have very weak arguments and if the status quo was warranted then ask yourself one easy question—-why is their so many vexing problems, and why is local government growth out of control ?

    What is puzzling is the lack of enthusiasm among republican legislators to this idea ? In my opinion passing meaningful referendum reform would take the control out of the hands of the legislators in Richmond –weakening the influence as well as their political big money patrons. This is what explains their ambivalence towards this measure

    A few years back the Wall St. Journal noted that Virginia was in the ” dark ages” when it came to citizens having such a high hurdle to climb in order to get a issue on a Citizen Initiative/Ballot , hardly a complimentary statement.

    Here in King William county we have a very contentious two issues, one is a county paid Fire/Rescue squad ( which many oppose) and the second is a initiative for the county to fund a high speed internet service. Excluding the town of West Point this county has less than 14,000 residents, and conservatives know the tax base doesn’t exist to pay for such grand designs.

    If we could put these two issues on a local ballot, allowing the folks who are going to have to pay for this a choice, I don’t believe either measure would pass. As it is we will have to accept the Board of Supervisors who are inclined to spend this money with little concern about the tax implications coming in a few years when they burn thru a current unassigned reserve fund of some 10 million dollars.

    As for public financing of elections…….if done correctly this would be far superior to the system we currently have in place. Legislation would have to be drafted very carefully so as to pass muster with the Supreme Court. You can bet their would be long drawn out legal battles because public financing would level the playing field in terms of available resources for every candidate that qualifies for the money. The Citizens United decision was wrong, read the dissenting opinion of Justice Stevens. Calling corporations ” people” and ” money” speech is simply capitulating yet again to the status quo, which if you hadn’t noticed isn’t working so well. The current system discourages many very decent people from seeking public office because of the distasteful manner with which candidates have to go about raising truck loads of money, often requiring them to make tangible compromises of their principles and often their personal integrity. Public financing , barring any outside funds, minimizing the role money currently plays has to be a step in the right direction.
    If the public owns the airwaves, then each qualifying candidate gets the exact same amount of time on any publically owned airwaves, be it radio or TV.
    Paid political ads of every kind is banned, let the candidates take on a rigorous debate schedule so those interested citizens will have ample opportunity to hear where the candidates stand, and ask questions in an appropriate setting. Far too many voters rely on the TV ad’s and most campaigns turn into mud fights. I have watched dumbfounded after a long campaign ends and not a single important issue received the deserved attention because it was a blood bath of negative TV campaign ads whose only purpose was to denigrate their opponent. The current manner is despicable, anything would be a vast improvement.

    As for allowing 16 years olds to vote…that is one of the most stupid suggestions I may have ever heard. Voter ignorance is already at levels where outcomes are often decided by vast swaths of terribly informed citizens. Eliminating the need for candidates to spend 80% of their time raising money, laying the legal groundwork for equal air /radio time, would allow for a much more serious discussion on the important issues.
    Our system today often allows for a candidate to skate through the entire election without ever fleshing out where they specifically stand on many vital issues. The status quo could hardly be worse.

    Bob Shannon Founder King William T.E.A Party

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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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