Looks as if the initiatives went 0-for-8.

It looks as if all the propositions are going down to defeat, though Prop. 75, the one that would emasculate public-employee unions’ political units, is nail-bitingly close.

As I read it, the absentee ballots were mostly for the Schwarzengroper Six-Pack, but the counts shifted toward the “No” side as the live ballots got counted. On Prop. 75, which is behind but only by a single point, about three-quarters of the votes have been counted in Orange County, which is leaning heavily to the “Yes” side, but only about a fifth of the votes have been counted in Los Angeles County, which is voting “No.”

So it looks like a shutout for the Guv.

The two left-handed propositions, neither of which had any real money behind it, are losing even worse than the six right-handed ones. Perhaps at last the voters have tired of direct democracy and are willing to try the representative variety.

When I saw Jonathan Zasloff late this afternoon, he speculated about the prospects for an initiative constitutional amendment to curb the initiative process. I wouldn’t want to dump it entirely, but I would like to limit it, and at the same time to try to take the money element out of it. I’d want to think about a package of three reforms:

1. Making it easier to gather signatures by allowing voters to sign petitions via the Internet.

2. Increasing the number of signatures required to get something on the ballot.

3. Banning paid signature-gathering.

4. Providing that, if an initiative passes, it should not take effect for two years. During that time, the legislature would have the opportunity to pass an alternative measure on the same topic. If such a measure passed, there would then be a second popular vote, in which the electorate would choose between the proposition as passed the first time and the legislative alternative.

However, if the initiative is identical to a bill passed by the legislature but vetoed by the governor, passage by the voters would override the veto and the law would take effect immediately. (A reader tells me that Prop. 80 on electric power was such a bill; if so, then my criticism of it for having avoided the hearings process was unjustified.)

The result would be that the voters would be able to get around their elected representatives if they really wanted to, but the initiative industry would no longer be a fourth branch of government.

Update Yep. 81% of precincts reporting, with Orange all in and LA still two-thirds out, and Prop. 75 is now three points down. 0-for-8. Goody!

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: