To the editor: As a longtime speaker on ballot initiatives for the League of Women Voters, I applaud your editorial on signature gathering for ballot initiatives. ("Take the initiative to read the petitions before you sign," editorial, March 23)
Signature gatherers are paid around $3 per signature, and, as your editorial points out, will say anything to get that three bucks, including "it's just to get it on the ballot." But "just getting it on the ballot" results in a ballot overcrowded with complex and difficult to understand propositions, a deluge of misleading TV and radio commercials, and ungodly amounts of money spent by both sides, not to mention increased election expenses covered by the taxpayers.
I hope that everyone will take your editorial's advice to read the petition before signing it — and to make sure they understand and agree with what it proposes before they do so.
Sandra Wolber, Granada Hills
To the editor: Perhaps the worst unanimous decision of the U.S. Supreme Court was the ruling in 1988 that petition gatherers may not be required to be volunteers.
Referendums and initiatives are the sole exception to representative democracy in our country. As such, this direct method of lawmaking requires protections that ensure it not also be controlled by the moneyed forces that can so overwhelm the interests of the people.
Being "grass roots" means this alternative procedure be controlled by those who first conceive and then refine their proposed legislation, and then finally go out and promote it. Each step, including signature gathering, must be undertaken by those who believe in the proposal to the degree they can engage citizens on the issue.
Even under the Supreme Court decision, there is nothing to prevent providing a conspicuous badge to identify those who are part of such a "people's movement" to contrast them with those paid employees of vested interests.
Al Rodbell, Encinitas