Congress is broken. But we can fix it.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) or Questions and Answers (Q&A), are listed questions and answers, all supposed to be commonly asked in some context, and pertaining to a particular topic. The format is commonly used on … online forums, where certain common questions tend to recur.…The term became more frequently used to refer to the list, and a text consisting of questions and their answers is often called a FAQ regardless of whether the questions are actually frequently asked, if they are asked at all,” (Courtesy © Wikipedia)

FAQ are especially important in this website’s context because of the range and complexity of the topics under consideration. They elaborate on problem, solution, and campaign issues and are frequently referenced from other sections in the website.


Assessing the Risk of Tyranny

Risk of tyranny caused by ratifying this Amendment is compared with the current risk. It focuses only on the relative degrees of tyranny and avoids digression into the voluminous and contentious philosophical issues of tyranny in general. The practical objective is to determine if this Amendment will make tyranny more or less likely.

Risk of tyranny caused by ratifying this Amendment is compared with the current risk. The practical objective is to determine if this Amendment will make tyranny more or less likely.


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Voter demographics are of great importance to the success of this Constitutional Amendment. The following table shows the demographics for the 1998 election: (more…)

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Federal Election Costs

Presidential federal election costs are spread amongst federal, state, county and local authorities. The most credible estimate of their total comes from a Voting Technology Project by Caltech and MIT dated July 2001. They estimate that the total cost of a federal election, excluding special one-time costs, is about $1 billion, or about $10 per voter. For this reason, it is not cost effective to have annual votes on Initiatives, but to make them coincide with the federal elections.

Cost of Publishing a Proposed Initiative in a Newspaper

National newspapers’ list prices range from about $4 to $8 per character. The Assembly will negotiate a bulk price for newspaper publication, which will probably average in the mid-range at about $6 per character. A Proposed Initiative of 300 words would cost about $10,000. However, this price is affordable to organizations, many individual citizens, and a group of citizens that could easily be assembled for a worthwhile Initiative. It is also sufficient to discourage frivolous Initiatives and to encourage brevity in worthwhile Initiatives. It appears to be the most cost effective method of publication. The Assembly has the authority to add a smaller (probably not national) newspaper with lower costs if this becomes desirable later; initially the Assembly should protect itself from a possible deluge of proposed Initiatives.

Estimate by Citizens Against Government Waste

In response to a request by President Reagan, industrialist Peter Grace and columnist Jack Anderson formed the Grace Commission in 1982. After two years the Commission published its findings in the 21,000-page Grace Commission Report. Since then the Grace Commission evolved into a nonprofit organization called Citizens Against Government Waste with over a million members. They have worked to make that vision a reality and, in a little over a decade, have helped save taxpayers $687 billion through the implementation of Grace Commission’s findings and cost effective recommendations.
One of their publications called Prime Cuts 2001 is a current blueprint for more efficient government, and estimates that $159 billion per year can be cut from government spending.

Initiatives Amendment Return on Investment (ROI)

The IQA’s baseline annual budget is about $60 million. For each $1 spent for the Citizens’ Assembly, Prime Cuts estimates the potential savings from reduced government waste alone to be $2,000. Obviously many of Prime Cuts’ savings will not be easily realized, but it is also clear that the Initiatives Amendment should be very cost effective and produce in a huge return on the People’s investment in it.

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Initiatives Amendment Executive Summary

(Download PDF)

Our Congress has abused the People’s trust by creating systemic Congressional corruption, dysfunction, and inefficiency. Moreover, it has usurped our Democratic Republic by advancing rule by a Plutocracy of the executives, directors, and major stockholders of domestic and international corporations, aided by 12,000 lobbyists who include over 350 retired congresspersons. Congress permits massively merged Plutocratic media corporations that propagandize their issues, facilitate divide and rule strategies. Hundreds of books, studies, and articles leave no doubt about the reality and severity of these Problems. However, Congress cannot and will not produce an effective Solution because Plutocracy bestows Congresspersons with far greater personal benefits than the People can provide. Consequently, Congress strongly accommodates Plutocracy’s wishes and does not consider the People’s wishes. Our government of the people has become by the Plutocracy, for the Plutocracy. (more…)

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The following table shows the principal Pro Con features of the Initiatives Amendment:


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Public Polls and Surveys on Nationwide Initiatives

Polling data on this issue is sparse. However, the limited public opinion data shows strong support for the use of nationwide initiatives. Averaging the four polls, Citizens are 63.5% in favor and 21.3% against Initiatives.

    1. In a 1987 Gallup opinion poll (Craig, p271), the following question was asked of U.S. citizens: “Should we trust our elected officials to make public decisions on all issues, or should the voters have a direct say on some issues.” The responses were 76% in favor vs. 18% opposed, and 6% unsure.
    2. The Washington Post (Merida) reported a 1994 poll showing 64% of those interviewed favored a national referendum.


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    The competence of the average U.S. voter receives it greatest test when twelve of them are randomly selected as jurypersons to decide the truth in matters ranging up to death sentences and billion dollar legal awards. This is our guarantee of justice under the constitution. It works surprisingly well, and when it occasionally goes wrong it is more the result of being given incorrect information than that the jury is not competent — it is seldom that a judge overrules a jury verdict. There is no good reason why we should not extend the democratic principle behind jury service to a much larger IQA that statistically is far more likely to make valid decisions.


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    Yes, to a degree mandatory IQA duty is onerous. But the general benefit far outweighs the individual inconvenience.

    It is important that the IQA is a good cross-section of the People so that everyone’s views are included. When a Citizen is randomly selected to serve as a Member of the IQA, that Member represents about 406,000 Citizens who have similar views. If that Member refuses to serve, a replacement will represent a different 406,000 views; the views of the original 406,000 Citizens will not be represented.


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    A Brief Citizens’ Guide to Successful Lobbying

    The key to successful efforts to lobby and persuade a state legislature to support the Initiatives Amendment is to find several legislators who will become committed advocates. Finding these advocates is largely a process of luck and of trial and error. The Citizen who decides to take on the job needs to find legislators who are predisposed to listen and support the Plan.


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    Project Smart Vote

    Project Smart Vote Links to State and Federal Elected Representatives and candidates. It is a very reputable nonprofit citizen’s organization dedicated to serving all Americans with accurate and unbiased information for electoral decision-making. It gathers and maintains data on over 42,000 candidates. You can quickly find your specific candidates and elected representatives by automatic lookup using your nine-digit (ZIP+4) mail code—or using your street address if you do not know your ZIP+4 mail code:

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    The Congressional Research Service has published three lengthy papers for Members and Committees of Congress:


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    House & Senate Races: Incumbents, Challengers, Open Seats.

    In November of 1998, 401 of the 435 sitting members of the U.S. House of Representatives sought reelection. Of those 401, all but six were reelected. In other words, incumbents seeking reelection to the House had a better than 98% success rate. U.S. Senators seeking reelection were only slightly less fortunate–slightly less than 90% of the Senate incumbents who sought reelection in 1996 held on to their seats.

    What is it about sitting members of Congress that makes them so hard to beat? Are incumbents just better candidates (on average) or is the deck somehow stacked against challengers?


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    Its all relative, but in #### we were the greatest nation; in 2015 we are ranked ###

    Dick Morris and Aileen McGann, in their 2007 book “Outrage“, estimate that the total wastage cost is at least 369 billion dollars per year and climbing. This is consistent with the grand total of earlier estimates by the authors, most of which are discussed above.

    America has repeatedly been said to have the best political system in the world despite its imperfections—an ideal that congresspersons and wealthy special interest groups reiterate in the hope that the People will ignore current Problems. Since independence, America has outperformed all others for two centuries. During this period, some politically instigated waste has been inevitable. Nevertheless, it has never been great enough to undermine America’s success.

    However, convergence of unprecedented special interest influence and the astonishingly persuasive power of today’s media technology have created a government by and for the special interests rather than by and for the People. Never before in U.S. history have the consequences for our nation been so great and so damaging. Our nation’s and our children’s futures are bleak if we take no action.

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    Congressional planning is primarily concerned with short-term issues, often synchronized with political re-election cycles. However, we live in a time when massive changes are occurring over one or more decades. Such issues are often global and difficult to solve politically, though they will have profound affects for all Americans whose much-loved decedents may live perhaps 30 to 60 years into the future.

    Domestic examples are social security and health care, which periodically become political-spin issues of considerable obscurity without progress to long-term solution. Global examples are consumption in critical areas that already exceed stable resources and climate change that compounds the problems. Some examples are depletion of fresh water and fossil fuels, soil exhaustion, deforestation, and fish depletion. Globalization enables less developed countries to under-cut the U.S. in some areas. Long-term policy will have to respond either by proactive planning that can control some consequences or by last-minute reaction with potentially disastrous results. Four credible authors and a website of references present disturbing analyses:

    • Diamond explains future scenarios by looking at the reasons for the historical collapses of civilizations,
    • Homer-Dixon analyses the stresses causing changes and their effects on our society,
    • Rees presents an evaluation of possible catastrophic changes, and
    • Lomborg shows that solutions to some long-term problems are uneconomical and that some less obvious solutions can be effective,
    • Heinberg explains the potential timing of the intersection between growing population and declining oil production, and
    • A web site of general references is available on the Internet.

    These add weight to the critical need for long-term planning and for very tough decisions—the type of decisions that politicians cannot face because they will probably lose votes (not to mention their opportunities to isolate themselves from the problems by their wealth), but decisions that the people can make because they realize that not making them only causes the problems to get worse. Based on information in the above references, there are several “perfect storms” that will hit us hard in the next decade or two. For example:

    • In the U.S., the “perfect collision” of:
      1. A growing elderly population, especially when the baby-boomers retire, have Social Security entitlements owed by the government but paid from current tax revenues.
      2. Rapidly increasing medical costs as life-extending medical technology improves.
    • Declining finances as increasing deficits, national debt, and inevitable inflation take their toll.
    • In the entire world, the “perfect collision” of:
      1. Oil production (Party’s Over p90) is peaking or will peak in a few years time and decline thereafter.
      2. Personal expectations and growing income in developing countries (e.g., China and India, with over a third of the world’s population) demand increasing per-capita consumption of everything.
    • The majority of scientists now agree that global warming will disrupt economies, eventually changing food production and flooding highly populated costal areas.
    1. Global population is now 6.65 billion and growing (more slowly) at about 1.2% per annum. Many scholars believe that today’s population is more than twice (Party’s Over p30, Population) the long-term, steady-state level.

    With such problems looming over our future, now is not the time for our government to procrastinate or to squander our resources. The People need the right of an effective voice in these long-term policy issues and decisions. Viability of the economy is the corner stone of our prosperity. However, when short-term-profit motivated industries excessively influence our elected representatives, we cannot rely on Congress to make balanced decisions for critical long-term issues.

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    There is a limit on the number and complexity of Direct Initiatives that can be assimilated by the nationwide electorate during a federal election. About 12 Direct Initiatives and 12 Indirect Initiatives every two years is almost certainly sustainable without overloading the electorate and the IQA. Experience will adjust these numbers.

    By comparison, the average number of bills passed by the 106th Congress (1999-2000) was 1,500 per two-years – roughly 100 times the number if Initiatives. (more…)

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    Our nation can no longer afford the luxury of ignoring these huge Problems. Though we expect our elected representatives to heed our concerns, they cannot for the following reasons:

    • A candidate’s media image has become the primary factor in winning an election in this information age. Paid advertising consumes two-thirds of election funds. Only wealthy special interest groups have the discretionary money to fund political campaigns in today’s political environment. Moreover, their members own the news media that profoundly influence the elections. Thus, without special interest support, the Congressional candidates who might be willing and able to solve the Problems almost inevitably lose their elections.
    • No matter how much congresspersons may wish to serve the People, when the reward for attempting to correct the Problems is to lose their special interests support, and consequently their next election (including their congressional power and perquisites) it is no wonder that the Congress cannot solve the Problems.
    • Moreover, neither the Executive nor the judicial branches of Government have any power to solve these congressional Problems—our present Constitutional system of checks and balances find the Problems intractable


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    Most of Members of Congress sought election because they are dedicated to making a difference and improving the lives of U.S. citizens. Once in Congress, the system itself promotes corruption if any legislative progress is to be made. Nevertheless, some congresspersons will see this constitutional Amendment as a necessary and useful tool rather than any significant diminution or threat to their power.

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    Many comments received so far about this Solution say:

    1. Yes, it is a good idea.
    2. Yes, we need it.
    3. But many Citizens fear that “THEY” or the “powers that be” will prevent and never allow this Amendment to pass.


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    A referendum is generally prepared by Government and submitted to the People for their approval. In some U.S. states and cities, a “referendum petition” can be used by the People to overturn legislation. Referendums are widely used around the world to legitimize actions that Governments want to take. Often the right to initiate referendums is presumed to be a proper power of Government without explicit authority granting the government that right. For example, the U.S. Constitution is silent on the matter. The U.S. government has never tested whether or not the Supreme Court would determine that it has the right to hold referendums. Following The Netherlands’ 2005 referendum rejecting the EU Charter, there remain only four major established democracies that have never held a national referendum: India, Israel, Japan, and the United States.


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    Congresspersons could be recalled only by their electorate. This would occur as a local action and is beyond the scope of a nationwide Initiative and this Planned Amendment.


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    International corporate interests help harm our middle class and send it  into decline. Export of jobs to increase executive pay and boost corporate profit—2.7 million manufacturing jobs lost from 2000 through 2003—will continue if unresolved. Many major U.S. corporations have now become multi-national, so they look for the lowest costs and the nationality of their employees does not affect them significantly. Their special interest groups and lobbyists have a multi-national rather than U.S. agenda.

    Between 1978 and 2005, CEO pay increased from 35 times to nearly 262 times the average worker’s pay. In contrast, men who were in their thirties in 1974 had median incomes of about $40,000, while men of the same age in 2004 had median incomes of about $35,000 (adjusted for inflation). On average, income of men is 12 percent lower today than income in their fathers’ generation. These recent U.S. Census data contradict the American Dream—that every generation will be better off than their parents. Instead, our current standards of living require multi-worker families. An increasing income gap between rich and poor tends to destabilizing society. These economic issues are serious enough to cause U.S. Federal Reserve chairperson Bernanke to issue a warning on the increasing social inequality.

    Prior to 1980, economic productivity and median family income grew at the same rate—meaning that government policies fairly shared the benefits of growth between the rich and the average Citizen. However, since 1980 the policies have constrained the average Citizen’s benefit to about 25 percent while U.S. productivity gains were 80 percent. The trends have accelerated since 2000; income has dropped by about two percent while productivity gains have increased by about fifteen percent. (Economic Mobility) U.S. government policies now send the benefits of U.S. productivity gains to the wealthiest Citizens and Corporations, whose special interest groups and lobbyists have been very effective.

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    Congress hides huge unfunded government overspending in financial obligations unilaterally imposed on the States, Cities and in debts upon our children. For example:


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    Our representatives oppose (act against) the Peoples’ interests on vital long-term social, ethical and legal issues. For example:

    1. Massive media mergers have allowed special interest groups increasingly to filter and manipulate news information—and thereby their excessive influence over our government. This is part of a trend to ignore monopoly laws. For most of the last century, these laws were the People’s assurance that our capitalist system would remain competitive and efficient.
    2. Cheaper medical drugs are available in other countries at international pharmaceutical prices but not in the U.S. Moreover, congressional legislation prevents the federal government from negotiating the prices of drugs supplied through Medicare. In both cases, the congressional legislation ignores American free-market anti-monopoly ideals.
    3. Congress is unwilling to propose a constitutional Amendment setting congressional term limits that would prevent their own almost-permanent reelection. In January 1997, a proposed Constitutional Amendment set House and Senate limits of 12 years each, for a combined total of 24 years in Congress. However, it failed to get the necessary support to pass. Public opinion is strongly in favor of congressional term limits.
      • Many States have term limits for their State legislators. Twenty-two States set term limits for their congressional representatives. However, in 1995, the Supreme Court’s five-to-four decision (S. Term Limits v. Thornton) determined that states do not have the authority to limit the terms of their Congresspersons.
      • In the absence of an Amendment, Congresspersons could volunarily limit their terms. Less than two dozen congresspersons chose to be self-limiters. The National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF) found that self-limiters proposed budget cuts of about $15 billion a On the other hand, non-self-limiters with the same seniority proposed average increases over $15 billion. Furthermore, the eleven longest-serving congresspersons proposed increases of nearly $60 billion a year. Though these data are not statistically conclusive, they are indicative.
    4. Under the influence of special interest and political obligations, the Congress has come to focus excessively on short-term issues, expediency and party politics. As a consequence, Congress inadequately addresses its long-term leadership responsibility to ensure that government comply with the Constitution.
    5. As the top legislative branch of Government in the nation, Congress sets a moral and ethical example for the nation. Congressional failures are publicized and apparent to every person and organization in the U.S. By their tolerance of excessive influence in high places, Congress encourages a decline in moral and ethical standards cascading throughout government, business and the nation. There is no way to evaluate the financial and moral costs of this decline, but many Citizens believe them to be pervasive and appalling.
    6. Increasingly, the companies that employ us are the same specials interests that control us through their surrogates—our elected representatives. The flat playing fields needed for an effective capitalist system yield to competition by paid political influence. We know that some of this is inevitable, that it has always happened, that it is part of our human nature, but today it is far worse and growing. Without adequate adjustment to our system of checks and balances, special interests’ control of government steadily transforms the U.S. into a surrogate plutocracy and, if their power consolidates over time, perhaps a form of totalitarianism

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    Congresspersons go to great lengths to be re-elected. Their cumulative efforts over time result in de facto control of the election process to the degree that our vote is no longer for a meaningful choice and most votes are wasted because they cannot affect any outcome. Congress has the power to remedy these problems, but it takes no effective action.      (more…)

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    Special interests make massive contributions to buy media to help ensure election of their Candidates. Special interests finance Washington lobbyists to represent them to Government. Though special interests have always influenced our government (as is their right under Amendment I) only in recent times have they been able to use such powerful and expensive media. To encourage a spiral of increasing lobbying, Congresspersons are taking the political maxim “reward your friends and punish your enemies” to new extremes.    (more…)

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    The Founding Father’s contemporaneous writings and words shed much light on what they intended the Constitution to accomplish, how it might go wrong, and how it was to be corrected, as shown in some examples below:


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    Note to the reader: Even though ratification of this Amendment by referendum may be possible, it would throw another risk into the ratification process, and the path is unlikely to be followed. Rather State Referendum and Initiatives may be used to prod ratification support in State Legislatures.

    Ratification of an Amendment to the U.S. Constitution by State Referenda

    (This review argues in favor of the case that state referenda can ratify a U.S. Constitutional Amendment.)

    Volume XIV, pp. 304-306, The Waverly Press, 1920

    Amendment to Federal Constitution—Referendum. In re Opinion of the Justices (Maine, 1919, 107 Atl. 673); State ex rel. Muller v. Howell (Washington, May 24, 1919, 181 Pac. 920). These two decisions present a square conflict of judicial opinion upon the interesting question whether or not a joint resolution by a state legislature ratifying an amendment to the United States Constitution is subject to popular referendum, like any other act of the legislature, under the constitutional provisions governing the initiative and referendum. The supreme court of Maine replied to a question of the governor that the joint resolution by which the Maine legislature had ratified the Eighteenth Amendment could not be referred to the people even though a petition for such referendum was duly filed. Two main reasons were given in support of this opinion. In the first place such referendum would be improper under Article V of the federal Constitution relating to amendments. The proposal and ratification of amendments to the United States Constitution is governed wholly by the provisions of that document. The states retain no discretion in the matter of the method of such ratification. The people retain no direct power to ratify an amendment, but the ratification must be made either by the legislature of the state or by ratifying conventions according as Congress may require the one or the other method. In the case of the Eighteenth Amendment, as in the case of its predecessors, ratification by state legislatures was specified when the amendment was proposed by Congress. Accordingly when the legislature of Maine passed its resolution of ratification that ratification was “complete, final, and conclusive” so far as that state was concerned.

    It has been established by practice that a ratification once made by a state legislature cannot be rescinded by a subsequent legislature. Ohio and New Jersey both attempted to withdraw their ratifications to the Fourteenth Amendment, and New York tried to withdraw its ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment. None of these attempts was successful. Equally fruitless would be any attempt on the part of the people of the state to withdraw the ratification passed in the regular way by the legislature of the state. In the second place the joint resolution in question is not subject to referendum under the provisions of the constitution of Maine relating to the initiative and referendum. It has been established that the referendum is applicable only to legislation. “This resolution, ratifying the proposed constitutional amendment, was neither a public act, a private act, nor a resolve having the force of law. It was in no sense legislation. It was not signed by the Governor, nor could it have been vetoed by him.” It is, therefore, in the judgment of the court not within the scope of the referendum as that system is defined in the constitution of the state. This opinion is in accord with that of the supreme court of Oregon in the case of Herbring v. Brown (180 Pac. 328).

    In the Howell case the supreme court of Washington took the opposite position upon each of the two points which led the Maine tribunal to its final conclusion. It held, first, that the joint resolution of ratification passed by the state legislature was a legislative act within the meaning of the initiative and referendum provisions of the state constitution. Those provisions should be construed liberally to accomplish what was in the minds of the framers, namely, the possibility of referring to popular vote every act of the legislature with the exception of those specially mentioned as being withdrawn from the scope of the referendum. The act of the legislature in ratifying the Eighteenth Amendment was legislative in character and should be regarded in the same light as any other legislative act. In fact, doubt is expressed as to the competence of the legislature to ratify except by an act or bill, or by a resolution having the legal character of an act or bill, since the court finds in the state constitution no power granted to the legislature t6 act in matters of legislation other than by act or bill. This point assumes, of course, that the act of ratification is a matter legislative in character.

    Secondly, the court finds nothing in the amending clause of the federal Constitution to stand in the way of the submission of the resolution of ratification to popular referendum. It is admitted that “if we are to stand upon the word ‘Legislature,’ if that word, and that alone, is the Alpha and Omega of our inquiry—it follows that the controversy is at an end; but we are cited to no instances where a great question involving the political rights of a people has been met by such technical recourse; where any court has so exalted the letter and debased the spirit of the law.” The court regards the provision in the federal Constitution relating to amendments, not as a hard and fast stipulation of the precise manner in which ratification by the states must be achieved, but rather as a “reservation in the several states of the right to express their legislative will in the manner in which they had then provided, or might thereafter provide, and, when so regarded, as a compact between the states and the federal government.” The idea that the clause providing for the ratification of amendments by “legislatures” should be construed to mean “legislatures” in the narrow sense of the term, or legislative assemblies, is nullified by the fact that at the time of the adoption of the Constitution of the United States some of the states did not have legislative assemblies. Such a view, further, would deprive a state entirely of the privilege of ratification in case it should so change its constitution as to abolish its legislative assembly entirely and place the duty of performing legislative functions directly and exclusively in the hands of the people. It is more reasonable to assume that when Article V of the federal Constitution uses the word “legislature” in this connection it means the supreme legislative authority of the state whether exercised by legislative assembly, convention, or any other method which might be adopted by the people of the states. This view is held to be in conformity to the views of the framers of the federal Constitution who believed that “the theory of our political system is that the ultimate sovereignty is in the people, from whom springs all legitimate authority.”

    Note: The above text is an OCR-based version of The American Political Science Review, Volume XIV, pp. 304-306, The Waverly Press, 1920 for the reader’s convenience. It is available from under the Google Book Search program.

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    The following “flowchart” show an overview of the advance of the Amendment from first steps to ratification.

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    The Constitution does not explicitly forbid or allow direct democracy; the issue is unresolved. Specifically, Article IV, section 4 of the U.S. Constitution (the Guarantee Clause) states that: “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.”

    Note that this Solution shall check and remedy representative democracy, not supersede it.


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    The People control the IQA as shown in the flow of control below:

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    Ownership and Authority of the Constitution is Defined in the Preamble

    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.     (more…)

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    The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in 1787, a hundred years before the discovery of Aristotle’s key texts describing the ancient Athenian experiences with democracy. Texts that they had quoted Greeks who were critical of democracy—especially Socrates who advocated a republic led by philosophers. Despite 140 years of direct democracy in New England town meetings starting as early as the 1640’s, there was no evidence that these small democracies could be scaled up for nationwide benefit. To the Founding Fathers, it seemed necessary that in a democracy all voters should assemble at a single location. The methodology of a statistical random sample of the People for polling or to select candidate initiatives developed over the period 1850-1930. Consequently, based on the available information, the Founding Fathers omitted any reference to democracy from the Constitution, but they did not explicitly forbid it.


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    Amendment I grants the right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances: “Congress shall make no law … abridging … the right of the people … to petition the Government for a redress of grievances”. However, the Supreme Court has explained: “nothing in the First Amendment or in this Court’s case law interpreting it suggests that the rights to … petition require government policymakers to listen or respond to individuals’ communications on public issues.” Moreover, though a signature “petition” may be used to qualify an Initiative, the word “petition” is used as a noun, whereas it has a different meaning as a verb in to “petition” for redress of grievances. Moreover, the People’s right to pass Initiatives into law is a very different issue. In other words, Amendment I says nothing about the People’s right to use Initiatives.
    In 1912, the Supreme Court held that a challenge to the constitutionality of a State initiative was not subject to judicial review and dismissed the case for want of jurisdiction. In other words, the Constitution could not resolve the constitutionality of State initiatives and the issue was left in limbo. Nevertheless, this decision has allowed the use of State initiatives without further serious challenge. “Generally, it is recognized that a state government is republican if Congress seats its members” (Vile, p109). Consequently, direct democracy legislation has, by its adoption in State constitutions become virtually accepted de facto as part of the Constitution. However, neither the Constitution nor the Supreme Court have accepted or rejected initiatives or signature petitions, so the issue can be resurrected.
    Thus, there is nothing in law that says initiatives, or the signature petitions that propose them, are or are not legal in the United States. A Constitutional Amendment is the only way to untie this Constitutional knot.

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    Differences Between Senator Gravel’s National Initiative for Democracy and This Plan’s Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment

    The conceptual similarities of NCID (was NI4D) and CUSDI’s InitiativesAmendment are: (more…)

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    Initiatives and Referendums in Ancient Times

    Direct democracy voting for initiatives and referendums by the citizens on important issues started around two thousand five hundred years ago In Athens, the cradle of democracy. About 590 B.C. power was granted to all the propertied classes, thus establishing a limited democracy. About 500 B.C., democracy was extended to the freemen of Athens (women and slaves who made up more than half of the population, and others were excluded). At that time, the city of Athens’ population was approximately 100,000 (Polopolus) with possibly 250,000 including surrounding areas. Of these, about 100,000 were citizens and about 30,000 were males entitled to vote. The voters were called the Ecclesia or Ekklesia—i.e., the Electorate. A quorum of the Ecclesia consisted of 6,000 citizens. (more…)

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    In political science, the initiative (also known as popular or citizen’s initiative) provides a means by which… voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance. It is a form of direct democracy(more…)

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    National newspapers’ list prices range from about $4 to $8 per character. The Assembly will negotiate a bulk price for newspaper publication, which will probably average in the mid-range at about $6 per character. A Proposed Initiative of 300 words would cost about $10,000. However, this price is affordable to organizations, many individual citizens, and a group of citizens that could easily be assembled for a worthwhile Initiative. It is also sufficient to discourage frivolous Initiatives and to encourage brevity in worthwhile Initiatives. It appears to be the most cost effective method of publication. The Assembly has the authority to add a smaller (probably not national) newspaper with lower costs if this becomes desirable later; initially the Assembly should protect itself from a possible deluge of proposed Initiatives.
    By comparison, presidential federal election costs are spread amongst federal, state, county and local authorities. The most credible estimate of their total comes from a Voting Technology Project by Caltech and MIT dated July 2001. They estimate that the total cost of a federal election, excluding special one-time costs, is about $1 billion, or about $10 per voter. For this reason, it is not cost effective to have annual votes on Initiatives, but to make them coincide with the federal elections.

    Leave a response to What does it Cost to Propose an Initiative in a Newspaper?

    Large U.S. Cities with Initiatives:


    Leave a response to Which Large Cities Have Initiatives?

    Best Case Scenario

    In the best case, the States will perceive that the planned Amendment is to the benefit of both the People and the States, and will adopt and later ratify the Amendment. The costs in this case would probably be just a few million dollars.


    Leave a response to What Are the Initiatives Amendment Campaign Cost Estimates

    This table shows how the Initiatives system works, from the initiative’s creation by small groups of Citizens, feedback from the other citizens, evaluation and selection by the IQA, choice between submittal to Congress as an Indirect Initiative, or as a Direct Initiative, to placement on the Ballot for the Citizens’ deciding Vote.

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    U.S. Citizens often speak of their Constitution as an experiment in democracy. Nevertheless, since it has proven itself for over 200 years, this Plan should not expose the People to unnecessary risk. As the future is unpredictable, it is always wise to avoid any undue risks by providing safeguards. The famous dictum “Above all, do no harm” is entirely appropriate. Consequently, this Plan incorporates many safeguards whose purpose is to anticipate and avoid problems, and, if they occur, to have an easy solution. They will have a significant effect on the Plan’s success. (more…)

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    The Constitution’s system of checks and balances requires that legislation enacted by both Houses of Congress be approved or vetoed by the President. The equivalent check and balance for Direct Initiative legislation is that two time-separated Assemblies (with many different Members) propose the Initiative and then the People approve or reject it. In both cases these are multi-step independent approvals that minimize error.


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    This is an informal sketch of some aspects of IQA operations for the readers’ information and the IQA’s guidance. It is not intended as a definitive description or constraint. The IQA’s future operations will be an evolutionary process controlled by the IQA and cannot be accurately predicted.

    Ability to Adapt to Changing Requirements and Unforeseen Issues

    The IQA has been given the power to adjust its operations to accommodate change. This will be essential as the system evolves. In particular, this constitutional Amendment only constrains the IQA to abide by the Constitution, gives it authority to manage Initiatives in an appropriate manner, protects it from outside influence, and allows it to function more or less without Government interference. The IQA can vote to change its Rules except for a small group of rules, whose proposed changes the IQA must seek from the Electorate by Direct Initiatives.

    It is recommended that, before making any changes, the IQA should first re-adopt the IQA rules, as deemed adopted in the Amendment, in order to substantiate its independent authority.

    Number of Assembly Members

    Some typical examples of deliberative assembly membership sizes for larger developed countries, countries close to the U.S., and a few States are show in the following table (National Assembly numbers are green):

    British Columbia Provincial Parliament Legislative Assembly 79 British Columbia
    California State State Government Assembly 80 California
    California State Senate 40 California
    Canada Confederation with Parliamentary Democracy House of Commons 308 CIA World Factbook
    Canada Senate 105 CIA World Factbook
    France Republic National Assembly (Assemblee Nationale) 577 CIA World Factbook
    France Senate (Senat) 321 CIA World Factbook
    Germany Federal Republic Federal Assembly (Bundestag) 603 CIA World Factbook
    Germany Federal Council (Bundesrat) 69 CIA World Factbook
    Greece Parliamentary Republic Parliament 300 CIA World Factbook
    India Federal Republic People’s Assembly (Lok Sabha) 545 CIA World Factbook
    India Council of States (Rajya Sabha) 250 CIA World Factbook
    Italy Republic Chamber of Deputies (Camera dei Deputati) 630 CIA World Factbook
    Italy Senate (Senato della Repubblica) 315 CIA World Factbook
    Japan Constitutional Monarchy with Parliamentary Government House of Representatives (Shugi-in) 480 CIA World Factbook
    Japan House of Councillors (Sangi-in) 242 CIA World Factbook
    Mexico Federal Republic Chamber of Deputies (Camara Federal de Diputados) 500 CIA World Factbook
    Mexico Senate (Camara de Senadores) 128 CIA World Factbook
    New York State State Government Assembly 150 New York Assembly
    New York State Senate 62 New York Senate
    Russia Federation State Dumas 450 CIA World Factbook
    Russia Federation Council 178 CIA World Factbook
    Spain Parliamentary Monarchy Congress of Deputies (Congreso de los Diputados) 350 CIA World Factbook
    Spain Senate (Senado) 259 CIA World Factbook
    Sweden Constitutional Monarchy Parliament (Riksdag) 349 CIA World Factbook
    United Kingdom Constitutional Monarchy House of Commons 659 CIA World Factbook
    United Kingdom House of Lords 618 CIA World Factbook
    United States Constitution-based Federal Republic House of Representatives 435 CIA World Factbook
    United States Senate 100 CIA World Factbook
    Washington State State Government House of Representatives 98 Washington State
    Washington State Senate 49 Washington State
    Overall Average: 301
    Average National Assemblies: 476
    Maximum National Assemblies: 659
    Minimum National Assemblies: 300
    MinMax Average: 480

    National assemblies range from about 300 to 660, with an average of about 480. They have evolved over centuries to these sizes and give a rough guide about the number of members that are large enough to represent all the people in a nation and yet small enough to be manageable.

    There are three principal factors that determine the initial number of IQA Members:

    1. State Representation

    The State with the least population is Wyoming with just over 501,000 vs. a U.S. population of 291,000,000 (2003 estimates). For this State to be guaranteed that on average it will have one IQA Member, there will have to be 580 or more Members. Therefore, 600 is an appropriate upper bound for the size of the IQA. If the IQA has 480 Members, then Wyoming would be without representation on average 17 percent of the time, and the District of Columbia for 7 percent of the time; all other States would have on average one or more Members from their State.

    1. Number of Members Required for a Representative Sample

    The reason that the IQA needs a good representative sample of all citizens is so that its Members can select Initiatives that will:

    i.            represent a full spectrum of Citizen opinions and concerns,

    ii.            ensure that the Initiatives are easily and quickly understandable by the vast majority of citizens,

    iii.            select Initiatives that will probably pass so the Electorate do not have to waste their time on unwanted Initiatives.

    The current US population is about 300 million, of whom about 190 million are citizens of voting age, 125 million are registered to vote, and 100 million actually vote. The typical sample size for a Gallup poll which is designed to represent this voting population is 1,000 national adults. For example, with a sample size of 1,000 national adults, (derived by telephone calls to create a simulated random selection), the results are highly likely to be accurate within a margin of error of plus or minus three to four percentage points. The knee of the curve occurs at about 500 Members—increasing survey sample size above about 500 yields fewer and fewer accuracy gains.

    The key to an accurate poll is to get a good random sample. The IQA will probably comprise a better random sample than most polls because Members have an obligatory duty to serve. In a telephone poll, those of a certain temperament or whose time is most valuable often decline since there is no penalty. They have to be replaced by someone else, but their replacement does not have exactly the same opinions, and so there is a built-in distortion of the randomness.

    The adequacy of the IQA size to achieve a required level of statistical accuracy will be tested in practice. The vote of the IQA on an Initiative can readily be compared with the vote of the Electorate. If there is a substantial difference then it is an indication that the number of IQA Members should be reconsidered. On the other hand, if it is very close, then the number of Members may be too high. Over time the optimum number of Member can be fine-tuned as necessary.

     IQA Confidence v Size

    600 Members would accurately reflect the Electorate’s wishes to plus or minus 4 percent in 95 percent of the cases (e.g., for 19 out of 20 Initiatives). This is the accuracy and confidence level achieved in most nationwide political polls which do not have quite as good a random sample. On the other hand, reducing the size of the IQA by a fifth from 600 to 480 degrades the confidence interval by an eighth, from ± 4.0% to ± 4.5%.

    The National Assembly low-size of 300 would have a confidence interval of ± 5.7%. This is about 50 percent worse than a good polling sample, but it would be more manageable and would be appropriate to use as the lower bound for IQA size.

    The IQA Members’ voting accuracy will degrade somewhat if the Courts excuse many Members from their obligation to serve on the IQA or if Members are absent for the votes.

    On the other hand, by having two votes for each Candidate Initiative, the effective number of Members (and therefore the accuracy) is improved due to turnover in the intervening period. Assuming that all the Members were voting together (though this is not the case), an indication of the improvement in accuracy is shown in the following table:

    0 Months 480 ±4.5%
    2 Months 560 ±4.1%
    4 Months 640 ±3.9%
    6 Months 720 ±3.7%
    8 Months 800 ±3.5%
    10 Months 880 ±3.3%
    1 Year 960 ±3.2%

    It is apparent that taking longer between the two votes can give greater accuracy, up to almost 50 percent improvement with a one-year interval. A more rigorous statistical analysis will refine these numbers but not the general conclusion. Nevertheless, reducing the IQA size from 600 to 480 Members is approximately compensated by a three month delay between votes.

    1. Member Workforce Requirements

    No one can predict how many source Initiatives will be published, and how the rate of production will vary over time. There will probably be an initial flurry of activity, to which the IQA should not over-react; subsequently, the rate will probably level off to a fairly uniform level with occasional peaks.

    One reference point is the State Initiatives. In California between 1976 and 1996, there were 106 statewide ballot initiatives, or an average of about ten and a peak of eighteen every two years. Speculation is that there may be on the order of 500 worthwhile proposed Initiatives per year—i.e., excluding those that are duplicative, trivial or disingenuous. Based on five days in Session per month, each IQA working day about ten new proposed Initiatives will be processed. These will be reduced to about ten Candidate Initiatives placed before the Electorate every two years. By comparison, Congress (House plus Senate) has an average annual workload of about 4,500 bills introduced and 750 bills voted on. This indicates the different nature of the vast quantity of legislation produced in Congress compared with the few Initiatives that should be put to the Electorate.

    The work load of the Members can be adjusted by:

      1. Changing the number of days they work each month.
      2. Changing the number of Members between the minimum to maximum limits.
      3. Managing the backlog and setting priorities to keep the workload within the capabilities of the Members.
      4. Adjusting the minimum size of Citizen Groups that may propose Initiatives. It is initially set on the high-side to reduce the chance of an excessive number of Initiatives shortly after the IQA first convenes.
      5. Adjusting the Initiative Submittal Fee and the publication Media cost.

    This permits the IQA to adjust itself to accommodate a wide range of possible future fluctuations and eventualities within its constitutional authorization.

    Based on the above, the best starting size is probably 480, with IQA authority to fine-tune the number up between 300 and 600. 300 is the size of the smallest of the national assemblies listed above. 600 is the size of the largest national assemblies excluding the U.K.

    The initial number 480 is:

    1. Selected primarily because it is the average of national assemblies in developed countries, so it will be manageable and adequate to represent the People.
    2. Slightly larger than the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, but not by much.
    3. At the low end but acceptable for a reasonable nationwide poll given the quality of the random sample.
    4. Reasonably close to a large deliberative poll®*—e.g., the “National Issues Convention” conducted by the University of Texas January18-21, 1996 and televised by PBS.
    5. Very close to the size of the Athenian Council of Five Hundred.
    6. If the IQA continues to use a monthly Member replacement schedule, 480 is divisible by 12 requiring a convenient “round number” of 40 members per month (plus any who have left before their one-year term was complete). Thus, it is unnecessary to round up or down to whole members. Otherwise, 500 members would be an equally acceptable starting size.

    Assuming that an Article V Convention of the States decides the final wording of the Amendment, they would have the power to increase the number of Members to 580-600 if they felt all States had to have one Member on average. Of course, they would also have to increase the budget accordingly.

    Member Education and Citizen Demographics

    The IQA is a random sample of the people—an exact transcript of the whole society. By comparison, Congress is overwhelmingly composed of white male lawyers. The education of the IQA Members will be about:

    1. 84 percent of the population 25 years old and over have completed high school.
    2. 26 percent have completed 4 or more years of college and 21 percent hold bachelor’s degrees.
    3. 6 percent hold a master’s degree.
    4. 2 percent hold a professional degree (e.g., medicine or law) or other doctoral degree.

    In the IQA, the sexes will be equally represented (whereas in Congress, women have only a quarter of their fair share of members):

    1. 51 percent Female (vs. about 12.5 percent in Congress).
    2. 49 percent Male (vs. about 87.5 percent in Congress).

    The IQA racial representation will be about:

    1. 69.1 percent White (vs. about 88.6 percent in Congress).
    2. 12.5 percent Hispanic or Latino of any race (vs. about 3.4 percent in Congress).
    3. 12.3 percent Black or African American (vs. about 6.9 percent in Congress).
    4. 3.6 percent Asian (vs. about 0.9 percent in Congress).
    5. 0.9 percent American Indian or Alaska Native (vs. about 0.2 percent in Congress).
    6. 0.1 percent Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander (vs. about 0 percent in Congress).

    The population under 18 years of age is about 25.7 percent, who are not included in the IQA. It is not feasible for minors to participate regularly at IQA meetings. At a minimum, their parents are fairly represented on the IQA and will represent their children. The IQA may take the initiative to seek out the views of the minors in some reasonable manner.

    The numbers highlight that:

    1. Congressional membership is 12.5 percent female and 87.5 percent male; i.e., a compositional sexual bias in which males outnumber females by a factor of seven times.
    2. Congressional membership is 11.4 percent non-white, whereas the total non-whites make up 30.9 percent of the U.S. population; i.e., a compositional racial bias in which non-whites are under-represented in Congress by a factor of 2.7 times.

    Member Skills

    Membership will change each month, so there will be constant change in available skill sets. Many skills will be available in small quantity among the Membership. However, essential skills that are unavailable from the Members will be obtained from outside consultants. For example, the design, development and maintenance of the IQA’s computer system will be almost entirely contracted. Similarly, legal advice on the Initiatives and on IQA activities will usually have to be contracted. Nevertheless, Initiatives legal issues should usually be modest because the IQA is expected (but not obliged) to stay away from complex legislation, which is much more the business of Congress.

    One of the objections to the IQA concept is that randomly selected citizens will not be up to the job. The section on the Wisdom of the IQA shows that there is every reason to believe that it can do the job very well. The fundamental basis of democracy is that the voters can be trusted make reasonable common sense decisions; otherwise they would be better off with some form of dictatorship. Time and time again it is proven that they have a high degree of common sense, even though they may not have the education or prestige of the elite. A jury of twelve routinely decides on matters of life and death or make civil decisions involving huge amounts of money. The IQA will be forty times a large as a trial jury, and will have access to expert help and advice whenever it wants it. People rise to the occasion, and there is good reason to trust their combined judgment to act in the United States’ best interests—arguably more reason than those representatives who have been subject to influence of special interests groups and their lobbyists for their reelection and political careers.

    Members who are less able to read, those with various handicaps, and Citizens with English as a second language will serve an additional unique and valuable service by helping to ensure that the Candidate Initiatives are clear and comprehensible to the largest possible proportion of the Electorate.

    Deliberative Assembly

    The IQA will operate as a deliberative assembly for much of its work. The term deliberative here means simply that, as compared with the People as a whole, the Members within the institutional context of the IQA will become better educated about the issues by information from various sources. They will split into smaller groups (Deliberative Task Forces) to discuss and refine their views, and perhaps modify their opinions if they do not stand up to debate.

    The deliberative process has been well studied academically and in polls. After the deliberative process, participants have more thoughtful and wiser views (BCCA, PBS, Fishkin, McCombs & Reynolds, et al).

    “At the heart of the deliberative conception of democracy is the view that collective decision-making is to proceed deliberatively—by citizens advancing proposals and defending them with considerations that others, who are themselves free and equal, can acknowledge as reasons. …Citizens…owe one another reasons, and owe attention to one another’s reasons.” (Cohen and Sabel, p327)

    ‘Most important, it offers a face-to-face democracy not of elected members of a legislature, but of ordinary citizens who can participate on the same basis of political equality as that offered by the assembly or town meeting. It provides a statistical model of what the electorate would think if, hypothetically, all voters had the same opportunities that are offered to the sample in the deliberative opinion poll…” (Fishkin, p4)

    A deliberative Assembly consisting of a cross-section of ordinary citizens will be able to make value tradeoffs relevant to their lives that would be difficult for Congresspersons to accomplish since they belong to an entirely different socio-economic class. (For example, in the 2002 Congress, 27 of the 63 freshmen—43 percent—declared holdings that exceeded $1 million, compared with 1 percent of the American public (Salant, AP). For another example, lawyers comprise about 40 percent of congress, about 100 times more than in the population at large.)

    When the IQA places a Candidate Initiative on the ballot, their views will be attached. The Electorate will find their views to be well considered, and will generally pay them close attention, substantially offsetting mush of the hysteria raised in the Media.

    Limits of the IQA’s Capabilities

    It can be argued (Leib, Callenbach) that a randomly selected deliberative Assembly could approve initiatives or enact laws directly, without going to vote by nationwide Electorate. Some advantages are:

    1. Such laws would be made by well informed Assembly Members rather than a less informed Electorate.
    2. The problem of overburdening the Electorate is avoided, so the Assembly could pass many more laws than in the planned Solution.

    There are many reservations to giving such powers to a voter assembly and it is doubtful that such a large step is feasible. For example:

    1. It is less consistent with the constitutional framework, where the ultimate authority and source of power to make legitimate final decisions is the People, not a random sample of the People—which is not mentioned in the Constitution.
    2. A random sample is small enough that it is possible a few charismatic activists might be able to control the Assembly for long enough to approve an unwise Initiative. The People can correct such error by voting against the Initiative. (Of course, the People may occasionally be similarly influenced. But, if the People make the mistake, it is their right.)
    3. The Constitution’s Guaranty Clause states that: “The United States shall guarantee to every state in this Union a republican form of government”. While adoption of an Initiative by the People is arguably within their purview as the ultimate authority under the Constitution, such a claim is harder to argue for a random sample of the People.
    4. The adoption of an Initiative by the Assembly followed by a vote by the nationwide Electorate provides an effective check and balance that is entirely consistent with the Constitution.
    5. When an Initiative is passed by the nationwide Electorate, it psychologically and morally binds the entire Electorate to make their decision work, whereas passage by the Assembly has far less psychological and moral force and cannot expect the same public commitment.
    6. The voter assembly members are not as qualified as professional congresspersons to formulate the mass of complex legislation needed to run the country. However, they are far better qualified to ensure that the People’s interests are properly protected by means of the relatively small amount of initiative legislation that nationwide voters can assimilate.
    7. The initiatives are generated by both U.S. citizen groups and U.S. organizations. They will vary greatly in scope and quality. Many will be quickly eliminated from further consideration while others will be of professional quality and importance equal to any produced by government. The Assembly will obtain whatever information and advice it deems necessary and will advance those in the best interests of the People.
    8. It is an even larger step than the Planned Solution, and would be even harder to achieve.

    Consequently, this Amendment Solution limits the IQA to managing only the choosing of the Initiatives, and the People make the decision to approve them or not.

    Duty of Members and Compensation

    For jury duty, even though this is usually of short duration and does not involve being away from home for protracted periods, it is common for high-salary people to employ a lawyer to have them excused. Easy avoidance of duty is unacceptable for IQA Members, because they are chosen to be a representative sample of the Electorate. For example, excusing someone with a doctoral degree would mean that there is only one chance in 50 that a new randomly selected person would have similar qualifications. IQA duty must be regarded more in line with a conscript military duty, where absence without leave is punishable by time in prison. Therefore, excessive hardship must be proven in court to be excused IQA duty.

    Members will experience some discomforts and impositions. They will probably have little free time during IQA sessions. They will have to take leave of absence from their jobs for a part of every month for one year. They will not receive privileges such as college tuition for military service or veterans benefits. Consequently, they must receive a high enough compensation that the large majority of Members will not find it an unreasonable imposition.

    There is another important compensation—prestige and achievement. When the records are made public, if the Member wishes, a Members’ service will be acknowledged in the IQA records along with the accomplishments of that particular IQA period. An IQA culture will evolve to define and encourage this. Moreover, the IQA will offer to repeal this constitutional Amendment so the achievements of these years will be the early Members’ legacy to the nation.

    Frequency of Votes by Electorate

    Voting on Initiatives will occur on every even year, concurrently with the federal election. This is the easiest and most economical frequency. However, if the people find Initiatives to be an important improvement to their democracy and if future technological advances make elections less expensive, it is possible that an annual vote will be more appropriate. One of the factors that will enter into the evaluation is the turnout of the voters. It may be that the Initiatives alone increase the turnout, or it may be that eventually some form of tax or other incentive will compensate those who take the time and trouble to fulfill their citizens duty to vote, and possibly penalize those who do not. After a thorough evaluation of the costs and impacts, the IQA has the authority to place a Direct Initiative before the Electorate to change the frequency.

    Information Technologies and Automation

    Two Initiative databases linked only by key(s) will be developed and maintained to track all proposed Initiatives and Citizens’ feedback through their progress. This will be needed urgently from the start.

    1. The external Initiative database will be public information readable from the Internet and conveniently organized. Publishers that have committed to publishing and reporting on proposed Initiatives will accept only the IQA standard forms, will publish them in that form, and will concurrently provide their data in electronic form to the IQA to build the external database.
    2. The internal Initiative database will be confidential, updateable and accessible only to the IQA. However, it must be kept simple to use, as many Members will not be computer literate and will need help. It should use software with which the majority of those Members who are computer literate are familiar. A help desk should be provided and the more experienced Members will generally help others.

    An off-the-shelf SQL database engine should be able to provide basic storage and data entry capabilities in a few months if highly competent consultants are employed; refinements can be added later. If the newspaper(s) will provide their Initiatives sections in electronic form, which should be possible to arrange, this will help populate the database. The status of each Initiative should be tracked, and the drafts kept from the time of original communication through the various stages of rejection or to final ratification. The Initiatives must be given key words and phrases. They should be identified by primary index and search indices etc. A complete text search should be provided. Needless to say, reliability, backup, security, virus Trojans, worms, protection, prevention of DOS attack, etc. are all important considerations, and at least one off-site backup is mandatory.

    The IQA’s web site should be placed with a large Internet Service Provider offering 24×7 service with redundancies and large Internet channel capacity. Only publicly published data such as the publicly-visible portion of the proposed initiative database should be housed there. It will contain Proposed Initiatives, Revisions, Comments, and other forms to enable citizens to propose initiatives in a standard format that can be automatically added to the database (but not submitted to the IQA except via the Publishers).

    The appeal of on-line democracy should be limited and expectations managed from the beginning to avoid multiplication of risks and potential for overload of IQA resources. From an early date, the external database should include a capability for Citizens to debate the issues—e.g., to comment on proposed initiatives  or on other Citizen’s comments, and to participate in public opinion polls about the proposed initiatives (when this can be done reliably). The information provided in this manner will be used only to advise the IQA—the IQA has no obligation to act on or respond to the public debate, though useful information or advise may affect the thinking of some Members. Once the IQA operations have stabilized, the Members can review the state-of-the-art and add features that can advance IQA performance and better meet the People’s expectations.

    Note that the issue of Internet voting on the general election ballots is an entirely separate issue. Moreover, there is currently no proven technology that permits Citizens to be identified uniquely and prevent abuse or to ensure “one-vote per voter”. These issues are independent of and not a part of this Planned Solution.

    The computer system will probably be a straightforward set of a few local area networks on a single domain with single-point fire-walled broadband Internet access. All email, browsers, and faxes should go through specific recording servers so that any misuse or tampering with the IQA or other outside influence may be detected or at least evidence gathered after the fact. A standard suite of office functions should be provided using features with which Members are most likely to be familiar. All host computers should be interchangeable (i.e., central logon and profile), and arranged in a few rooms where Members can have easy but secure access to their user and groups’ information from any host. It will probably be sufficient to start with the number of host computers equal to about a third of the number of Members.

    The computer system must be capable of entire and safe relocation in about a week, since it will probably be moved periodically to new IQA facilities. Cabling should be kept as unobtrusive as possible without significant structural intrusion or potential hazard. Wireless connections should only be considered if that technology has been used in a similar manner in large financial organizations such as banks and proven truly to be secure without labor-intensive support.

    It is anticipated that the IQA will let a contract for the computer system design, high-level (i.e., minimal hand coding) programming, installation, operation and maintenance. However the contract cannot stay with the same company for a long time to avoid entrenched support personnel or organizations. All aspects of the computer system and software must be off-the-shelf generics and standardized to the maximum degree to minimize the learning curve and facilitate inter-application data transfer. A formal hand-written or printed up-to-date hard-copy ledger will be kept of all changes and complete detailed logs will be kept containing all information necessary for a new contractor immediately to manage the system. All key information kept on-site will be stored in a re-locatable high-quality fire safe for general papers, a security safe, and a magnetic media fire safe.

    A single platform should be used for the efficiency and convenience of the IQA even if this means sole-sourcing all the hardware and software—multiple hardware and software vendors would present onerous complications due to mandated turnover in users, service personnel and locations. The exception to this would be to install a few machines for a small minority of Members who would find the transition to another operating system environment to be an onerous learning curve. However, these exception hosts must only be allowed if they can incorporate applications that enable them to access and write the same data as the other hosts (without any data manipulation or conversion being provided by the IQA’s computer system or not-of-the-shelf software written by the IQA’s consultants). Duplication of data and effort must be avoided.

    Behavior of Members

    Whenever a group of strangers are gathered together for important business, as with a Jury, their behavior will be variable; that is the way it is in the real world, and the Citizen IQA is made up of a random sample of us. The IQA has the responsibility to maintain reasonable standards of behavior. Members’ oath of duty imply a substantial level of dignity and civility, this will be reinforced by peer pressure, then controlled by our normal societal means and, in the last resort, by expelling a Member.

    Typical IQA Facilities

    In addition to the facility details specified in the constitutional Amendment and IQA Rules, it is anticipated that the IQA will choose hotel/motel facilities that they will negotiate for one year. They will be located in a pleasant geographic area. Members will need reasonable facilities for normal shopping, recreation, entertainment, etc. A pool of automobiles (not marked or distinctive) should be rented for Members’ use while the IQA is in session.

    Restaurant facilities will be required. Bedrooms accommodations should each have television and possibly a small kitchen area. Bedrooms will not have Internet access. A year-round pool and gym should be available.

    Research, study and computer facilities may be spread through several adjacent rooms. At least 32 rooms will be needed that can seat 15+ persons for small-group deliberation. The fully-equipped main conference room should seat 500+.

    For security reasons, the main facilities should be such that they can be guarded and access can be restricted. Access via the lobby will be fully monitored. Accessibility will be from interior hallways, and all exits will have no re-entry. Room telephones will be available for outgoing telephone calls only, and they may be monitored; Members will not be permitted to bring cell or portable phones. No internet connections will be provided in the rooms, nor will Members be allowed to bring their own computers, fax machines, or equivalent communications devices.

    When the IQA is not in Session, the facilities containing their equipment and records will be locked, secured and guarded.

    Typical Proposed Initiative Format

    There are some requirements that proposed Initiatives should follow. They are set forth in the constitutional Amendment Section 2, and in the IQA Rules under Content and Format of Candidate Initiatives and Sources. The following table will provide a suggested layout. When the proposed Initiative is published in a newspaper to communicate it to the IQA, all the information must be complete including the certification by a Notary Public.

    Title of Proposed Initiative
    Type of Initiative Date Unique ID Number added later
    Preamble that provides the background of the Initiative and the need for it.
    Body of the Initiative.
    Opinions in Favor Opinions Against
    Signatures, Names, Addresses, and proof of Citizenship of: citizens responsible for authoring and sourcing the Initiative, or authorized officers of the organization authoring and sourcing the Initiative.
    Include specific and assured details how to contact an authorized person and a deputy (including mail address, phone number, fax number, and email address) who can answer any questions, accept any suggested changes, and promptly transmit communications to all of the authors in the group.
    Witnesses signatures and dates
    Certification by a qualified and currently licensed Notary Public that the persons named above appeared in person, signed this document, and provided proof of their names, addresses, and U.S. citizenship on this date.

    Jury Analogy, Privacy and Sunshine Objectives

    The IQA’s meetings are analogous to a large Federal Trial Jury or Federal Grand Jury. There are many similarities and some differences:

    randomly selected
    peer system chosen from local Electorate.
    randomly selected
    cross-section of national Electorate.
    Concerned with important confidential issues whose premature publication would be disastrous. Concerned with important confidential issues whose premature publication would be disastrous.
    Cornerstone of democracy (the other is voting rights). New cornerstone of democracy.
    Duty of citizenship. Duty of citizenship.
    Renders a Decision, Jury makes verdict. Renders Selection, Electorate makes verdict.
    Considers a series of cases. Considers a continuous series of proposed Initiatives.
    Federal Grand Juries have between 16 and 23 Jurors. 480 Members—20 times larger than Jury.
    Duration of duty average one year, but up to 36 months. One year only, staggered so 1/12th resign every month to ensure continuity.
    Replacements by alternates or choosing new jurors. Replacements selected every month to cover those resigning and those excused.
    Lay persons decide momentous issues. Lay persons decide issues that may later affect the nation depending on the nationwide vote.
    Sit for about 5 days per month, weekly, monthly or on call depending on workload. Sit for about 5 days per month depending on workload.
    The identities of the grand jurors are secret. The identities of the IQA members are secret for two to five years after they are selected, but may then be made public if a member wishes.
    Grand Juries meet in private. The IQA meets in private.
    Grand Jury proceedings are recorded. IQA meetings are recorded and Plenary Sessions are videotaped and made public two to five years after the event.
    Secrecy protected by Rule 6(e) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. Secrecy of evidence and witnesses may be kept for long periods. Protected by similar rules of secrecy, but only for two to five years after the event. Everything is then made public to permit the People to assess the performance of the IQA.

    *Deliberative Polling® is a trademark of James S. Fishkin

    Leave a response to What Are Some IQA Operating Design Features?

    The initial IQA will be chosen as a simple random sample from all U.S. Citizens who are entitled to vote. This method does not involve any subjective decisions by sampling experts and is the most inclusive. It is the truest cross-section of the People and therefore the appropriate place to start. However, it will be an imposition on some of those selected; if this creates persistent serious problems, the IQA may be obliged to find ways to ameliorate the situation.


    Leave a response to Can the IQA Improve Random Sample?

    All national assemblies deliberate to some degree and they each therefore can be called a deliberative assembly. What is special here is that randomly selected voters are generally not familiar with the process and need well-defined procedures to come up-to-speed quickly. These procedures will evolve with experience. In a nutshell, the starting procedure used in this plan is:

    Leave a response to How is the IQA a Deliberative Assembly?

    The IQA is similar in various ways to several existing forms of organization that can serve as a reference point, but non describe it precisely:


    Leave a response to What Type of Organization is the IQA?

    The key problem in setting the size of the planned IQA is to make it large enough to represent accurately the views of all the People, yet be small enough to be manageable. It is a problem confronting all national assemblies. Their practical experience is of paramount importance as they have evolved over centuries to these sizes after much trial and error.


    Leave a response to Is an IQA of 500 Citizens Manageable?

    It can be argued (Callenbach and Phillips) that a Candidate Initiative adopted by a deliberative Assembly could become law directly, without going to vote by nationwide Electorate. Some advantages are:


    Leave a response to Why Not Let the IQA Pass Legislation Directly?

    Someone entering the Initiatives Qualifying Assembly or a Typical Citizens Assembly would notice little difference — the assemblies would look and sound very similar. Below the surface, however, there are many profound differences of responsibility, function, authority, and purpose as shown in the following table. (more…)

    Leave a response to What’s Different in the IQA and a Citizens’ Assembly?

    There are good reasons to believe that the IQA can be wise consistently.


    Leave a response to How Does the IQA Ensure Its Wisdom?

    The key function of the IQA is to select and develop Initiatives on which the People would desire to vote if they had a comprehensive opportunity to think about the issues. There are two defensible ways to define who the “People” are for this purpose: (more…)

    Leave a response to Must IQA Members be Registered or Eligible to Vote?

    States with Initiatives Project Cost Estimates

    This table shows the estimated funding that could be needed for contingency initiative projects in States that have the initiative process but whose legislatures are reluctant to endorse the Amendment.

    The initiatives would attempt to get the planned U.S. Citizens’ Initiatives Amendment adopted-in-principle by any reluctant States and to assure their support for calling an Article V Convention.

    North DakotaXX2,700,000
    South DakotaXX2,800,000
    Sources of Data:
    Schevitz, Jan A., The Fourth Branch of Government. May 2000
    Kearsley, Steve, San Francisco Chronicle. May 18-20, 1998
    Initiatives & Referendum Institute


    Note: The estimates are based on the largest and smallest costs referenced in the sources, and are linearly interpolated on the basis of States’ populations.

    First Reference Point—Based on 2004 Data

    The British Columbia Citizens’ Assembly (BCCA) in 2004 was the only recent comparable organization to the IQA. Its budget was $CAN 5.5 million. The Canadian dollar was about 80 percent of the U.S. Dollar, but U.S. wages tend to be somewhat higher than Canadian wages. For the purposes of roughly estimating U.S. costs, the Canadian dollar will be taken at par. (more…)

    Leave a response to How Much Will the IQA Cost?


    • Accurate
    • ACE Electoral Knowledge Network
    • Acemoglu, D,, Robinson, J., Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty. Crown, 2012
    • Ackerman, James S. and Fishkin, James S., Deliberation Day. Yale University Press, 2004
    • Adatto, K., “Picture Perfect – The Art and Artifice of Public Image Making” Basic Books Division of HarperCollins, 1993


    Leave a response to Where are the References and Bibliography?


    • John Adams, 1776
      “[A legislature]…should be an exact portrait, in miniature, of the people at large, as it should feel, reason and act like them”


    Leave a response to What are Some Relevant Quotations?



    AGO 1983 No. 4 – Mar 18 1983

    Attorney General Ken Eikenberry


    An initiative, under Article II, § 1 of the Washington Constitution, may be used for the purpose of applying to the federal Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments to the United States Constitution in accordance with Article V thereof.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    March 18, 1983

    Honorable Doc Hastings
    St. Rep., 16th District
    416 Legislative Building
    Olympia, Wa.  98504

    Cite as:  AGO 1983 No. 4

    Dear Sir:

    By recent letter you requested our opinion on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

    May an initiative, under Article II, § 1 of the Washington Constitution, be used for the purpose of applying to the federal Congress to call a convention for proposing amendments to the United States Constitution?

    We answer the foregoing question in the affirmative.


    Article V of the United States Constitution, relating to the amendment thereof, provides as follows:

    “The congress, whenever two-thirds of both houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose amendments to this Constitution, or, on the application of the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states, shall call a convention for proposing amendments, which, in either case, shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the legislatures  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] of three‑fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three‑fourths thereof, as the one or the other mode of ratification may be proposed by the congress; provided that no amendment which may be made prior to the year one thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any manner affect the first and fourth clauses in the ninth section of the first article; and that no state, without its consent, shall be deprived of its equal suffrage in the senate.”  (Emphasis supplied)

    Article II, § 2 of our own state constitution, which originated with the Seventh Amendment thereto in 1912, provides, in material part, that:

    “The legislative authority of the state of Washington shall be vested in the legislature, consisting of a senate and house of representatives, which shall be called the legislature of the state of Washington, but the people reserve to themselves the power to propose bills, laws, and to enact or reject the same at the polls, independent of the legislature, and also reserve power, at their own option, to approve or reject at the polls any act, item, section or part of any bill, act or law passed by the legislature.

    “. . .”

    Our research has disclosed no cases dealing with the use of aninitiative in the performance of a legislative function relating to the federal constitution’s amendatory process.  We have, however, a case squarely in point insofar as the availability of a referendum in that general context is concerned; namely, State ex rel. Mullen v. Howell, 107 Wash. 167, 181 Pac. 920 (1919).

    In theHowell case, the question presented to the Court was whether a joint resolution of the legislature, ratifying an amendment to the United States Constitution, was an “act, bill or law” within the meaning of so much of Article II, § I (Amendment 7) of the state constitution, supra, as further provides:

    “. . . The second power reserved by the people is the referendum, and it may be ordered on any act, bill, law, or any part thereof passed by the legislature, except such laws as may be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, support of the state government and its existing public  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] institutions, either by petition signed by the required percentage of the legal voters, or by the legislature as other bills are enacted.  . . .”

    The Court, after a thorough consideration of the underlying purposes of the Seventh Amendment to the state constitution, answered in the affirmative‑-notwithstanding that the act of ratification was in the form of a joint resolution rather than a bill.  The critical point, it appears, was that the joint resolution nevertheless was of obvious legal force and effect in the implementation, by the State of Washington, of the procedures set forth in Article V of the United States Constitution,supra, relating to the amendatory process.  In other words, it was not the form of the state action but, instead, its actual legal force and effect which was determinative.  As stated by the Court, at page 173:

    “The contention that a resolution, although it may have the force and consequence of a formal legislative enactment and affect the people in their civil and political rights, cannot be referred arises from a misconception of the term.  This case sounds in fundamentals, not in definitions.  It is not the resolution, but the act of the legislature in adopting it that is to be referred.  A resolution, like all acts of the legislature, is to be measured by the end accomplished. . . .”  (Emphasis supplied)

    In addition, the Court noted the language of Article V of the United States Constitution,supra, and it then met the contention that the reference therein to the “legislature’s” contemplated formal action by the respective state legislatures themselves by saying, at pages 176-177:

    “It is argued that, inasmuch as article V of the constitution of the United States provides that a proposed amendment ‘shall be valid to all intents and purposes, as part of this constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three‑fourths of the several states, or by conventions in three‑fourths thereof,’ etc., the people have hitherto fixed the manner and form of ratification, against which the reserved power of the people of a sovereign state may not prevail.  If we are to stand upon the word ‘legislatures,’ if that word, and that alone, is the Alpha and Omega of our inquiry, it follows that the controversy is at an end, but we are  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] cited to no instances where a great question involving the political rights of a people have been met by such technical recourse‑-where any court has so exalted the letter or so debased the spirit of the law.”  (Emphasis theirs)

    Also, at page 178, the Court said

    “It is provided in the Federal constitution that proposed amendments shall be ratified by the legislatures of the states or by conventions assembled for the purpose of considering them.  It cannot be urged successfully that the framers of the constitution used the words ‘legislatures’ and ‘conventions’ as terms describing then present institutions, for it is well known that, at the time the constitution was adopted, some of the states did not have legislative assemblies.

    “Article V can mean no more than this:  that no amendment shall be adopted unless it is sanctioned by the supreme legislative power of a sufficient number of the commonwealths, whether such ratification be by legislative assembly, convention, or such other method as might thereafter be adopted by the people in the several states.”

    Lastly, we note the Court’s apparent acceptance, at page 183, of the following excerpt from a decision of the South Dakota Supreme Court:

    “‘. . . The “Legislature” of the state, in its fullest and broadest sense, signifies that body in which all the legislative power of a state reside, and that body is the people themselves, who exercise the elective franchise, and upon their power of legislation there is no limitation or restriction, except such as may be found in the federal Constitution, or such as they themselves may provide by the organic law of the state.'”

    See,State ex rel. Schrader v. Polley, 26 S.D. 5, 127 N.W. 848 (1910) at pages 11-12.

    In our opinion this same reasoning is equally applicable to the use of an initiative‑-as a form of legislative action under Article II, § 1 (Amendment 7),supra‑-to carry an application by the State of Washington to the United States Constitution for the  [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] convening of a federal constitutional convention.  We would, therefore, prepare an official ballot title for such an initiative should it be presented to us for that purpose in accordance with the applicable procedures set forth in RCW 29.79.040, et seq.1/       We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

    Very truly yours,
    Attorney General

    Senior Deputy Attorney General

                                                             ***   FOOTNOTES   ***

    1/In the past, this office has declined to process, and prepare ballot titles for, initiatives which merely proposed to memorialize the United States Congress to take action on subjects over which the Congress, itself, has complete discretion‑-on the ground that such initiatives would be of no legal force or effect under the provisions of the United States Constitution relating to congressional action.  Cf., State ex rel. Mullen v. Howell, supra.  We would, however, distinguish those instances from the subject of your present inquiry because of the legal force and effect of state legislative action, on the Congress, of an application submitted pursuant to Article V of the United States Constitution, supra.

    – See more at:

    Leave a response to Can a State Initiative Call for an Article V Convention?


    Other sections the Initiatives Amendment and associated documents lead to the following::

    1. The U.S. Congress tolerates critical Problems that seriously harm the People of this State. Excessive influences by special interests are dysfunctional and the primary cause of the Problems. Moreover, Congress exacerbates two major violations of the Constitution.
    2. The only effective Solution is oversight by nationwide Citizens’ Initiatives. The People can trust only themselves to correct these Problems. Any lesser solution will ultimately fail because all appointed and elected officials are subject to great wealth’s Plutocratic corruption.
    3. A Constitutional Amendment is the only way to implement the Solution. There is no expectation that Congress can act against its members’ personal benefits and propose the Amendment by the first method. As planned by the Founding Fathers in the U.S. Constitution, the People must place their faith in their State Legislatures to use the second method of proposing Amendments. The States are the People’s last bastion in defense of the Peoples’ liberty.
    4. If the State Legislatures fail and the People cannot fulfill their right and duty to alter their Government, the People’s only Constitutional remedy is the People’s right and duty to abolish their Government and institute new Government. The Constitution’s 2nd Amendment prepared them for this eventuality with the right of the People to keep and bear Arms. State Legislatures would be disastrously delinquent if they permit this to happen or even to procrastinate. Plutocracies, aristocracies, and dictators throughout recorded history all fear a People’s rebellion.


    Leave a response to Why Must State Legislatures Support this Amendment?

    The following discussion looks at some areas in which the People could use nationwide Initiatives to provide Benefits for the States and their people. However, it takes a neutral position on any specific Initiative’s desirability.


    Leave a response to What Are Practical State Benefits of the Amendment?

    Pros and Cons of State Support for Amendment

    Government has an obligation to protect its citizens’ rights. The U.S. Congress denies these rights by promoting the welfare of wealthy special interest groups that fund expensive congressional re-election campaigns rather than promoting the general welfare of the People. Congress will not solve this problem; but it is within the States’ Legislatures power to do so by supporting the Initiatives Amendment. The Pros and Cons of this support are presented below.


    Leave a response to What Are Pros and Cons of State Support for Amendment?

    It is reasonable to suppose that at least the following sources of powers, constituencies and factors of will strongly resist and oppose a State’s support of the Initiatives Amendment. Though the constitutional and beneficial reasons for State support are powerful and compelling, there are also powerful forces that may prevent state legislators from endorsing the Initiatives Amendment.

    Leave a response to Who Will Resist State Support of Initiatives Amendment?

    Many precedents have been set by the nominal 400 or so State applications to Congress for Article V Conventions. (FOAVC documents 766 applications from 49 States!). The right of a two-thirds majority of the States (i.e., 34 States) to call an Article V Convention by the 2nd Method is clearly defined in the Constitution. However, though Congress has defined procedures by which the States can call an Article V Convention by the 2nd Method, it has avoided passing legislation incorporating the procedures into law. (more…)

    Leave a response to What Is the 2nd Method of Calling an Article V Convention?

    The States, on behalf of the people of the state, will process this Amendment. Therefore, the concern must be to get it through as easily as possible rather than break new constitutional ground and risk the attendant pitfalls. The States should make the Amendment and its ratification process as defensible as possible. A significant degree of cooperation between the States will be required to avoid pitfalls.


    Leave a response to How Can States Avoid Article V 2nd Method Pitfalls?

    The safest approach is for the People to coordinate a generic Initiatives Amendment that each State may adopt independently.


    Leave a response to Can States Avoid Interstate Compact?

    Twenty-four US States permit State Initiatives. They are 70 percent of the 34 States needed to call for an Article V Convention; and 63 percent of the 38 States needed to ratify a Constitutional Amendment.

    Leave a response to Which States Have Initiatives?

    The following 26 States have Referendums but no Initiatives:


    Leave a response to Which States Have Referendums but No Initiatives?

    State Citizen Initiative Review Commissions are a much scaled down version of the IQA with the authority to prevent an initiative from going on the ballot or to provide voter advice, but not independently to select an initiative for the ballot.The Citizens’ Initiative Review Commission (CIRC) was established by the Oregon Legislature in 2011 (House Bill 2634). Citizens’ Initiative Review is an innovative way of publicly evaluating ballot measures so voters have clear, useful, and trustworthy information at election time.


    Leave a response to What Are State Citizen Initiative Review Commissions?


    Though State problems are different from the U.S. government problems, State IQA (SIQA) could solve many problems with the signature-petition initiative process currently experienced by the States—for example:


    Leave a response to Can a State IQA Replace Signature Petitions?