Utah State Representative Works to Keep Equality in State Initiative Process

Wed, Mar 3 2010

(LAKE RIDGE, VA) – Today, Citizens in Charge Foundation, a transpartisan national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, presented Utah State Representative Neil Hansen (D-Ogden) with the March 2010 John Lilburne Award.  Rep. Hansen is being recognized for standing up for equality and fairness in the state’s initiative process and against pending legislation, SB 275, which would give opponents of an initiative an unfair advantage over the initiative’s supporters.

“This bill is an attempt by legislators to game the system,” said Citizens in Charge Foundation President Paul Jacob. “It should not be easier to remove names from a petition than it is to add them in the first place, nor is it fair or wise to allow politicians and special interests an entire month to harass signers into removing their names after a petition is turned in.”

Utahans already have the ability to remove their signature from a petition if they change their mind after signing. The system is currently setup in a fair and equal way so that the processes for both adding and removing signatures on a petition are basically the same. A notary must both validate a signature going onto a petition and also a signature that is being removed. If passed and signed into law, SB 275 will get rid of the notarization requirement for removing a petition signature, thus making it easier to take names off of a petition than it is to add them.

SB 275 would also give an unfair advantage to petition opponents and open up those who sign a petition to harassment because it provides a month-long period during which the signers of a petition can be contacted and lobbied or pressured to remove their names.

“We applaud Representative Hansen for standing up for petition rights and basic fair play,” added Jacob. “It is unseemly that politicians would change the rules in this way simply to block an initiative they oppose.”

Each month, Citizens in Charge Foundation presents the John Lilburne Award to a citizen, or citizens, working to protect and defend the First Amendment petition rights of Americans.  John Lilburne was a 17th Century English pamphleteer, political activist, and champion of individual rights who advocated constitutional government and pioneered the use of petitioning and referenda for redress against government power and abuse. For a complete list of past Lilburne Award winners please click here.

Citizens in Charge Foundation is the only national transpartisan voter rights group dedicated to protecting and expanding the ballot initiative and referendum process. We believe good government starts with the voter. For more information visit us www.CitizensInCharge.org