Netizens Will Draft School Ballot Issue

The elections are barely over, but Silicon Valley venture capitalist Tim Draper is already launching an education-related initiative for the November 2000 ballot--with the help of the Internet.

Draper's initiative, LocalChoice2000, will seek to introduce school choice in California and boost the amount of local control over schools. The initiative itself will be written with the help of concerned citizens who visit, his new Web site.

Draper, who joined the state Board of Education in April, is aiming to have his cyber-initiative written and posted on the site by Jan. 25. He said he hopes those who like it will be able to use their electronic signatures to qualify the measure for the 2000 ballot. (State officials are looking into whether electronic signatures can be used as substitutes for ink on paper.)

The LocalChoice2000 campaign marks the first time the Internet has taken a central role in the writing of a ballot measure, Draper said. The site has already become host to a lively debate among school-choice advocates, especially on the question of whether private schools should be part of such a program.

Even if the measure ultimately fails--a similar initiative was rejected by voters in 1993--the LocalChoice2000 effort could still produce a small victory for computer technology.

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