Evaluate the use of recalls, referendums and initiatives as forms of direct democracy in the USA. (30 marks)

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  • Recalls, Referendums & Initiatives
    • Initiatives & Referendums
      • huge signature collection needed to get a proposition onto the ballot paper
        • 5% - 15% of the electorate
        • 162 propositions in 2016; 27 in 2017
        • methods used to collect signatures favour interest groups
      • initiatives are 'bottom-up' direct democratic devices initiated by voters not 'top-down' decisions made by elected officials
      • all states (except Delaware) require amendments to their constitutions to be approved by referendum
      • initiatives can be highly democratic devices showing 'popular sovereignty'
        • directly involve the voters in decision-making on specific issues
        • encourage greater participation and involvement
      • remove some of the disadvantages. of representative democracy
        • e.g. blanket votes or avoidance of controversial issues by office seekers
      • low turnout undermining legitimacy of result
      • wording of the questions
      • unequal funding of the two sides
      • dominance of special interests in campaigns
      • promote short-term gain against long-term interest
      • some propositions have discriminated against minorities
      • SCs can overturn initiatives as unconstitutional and few are successful
      • DEFENCE of politicians
        • accountability, elected reps.
        • make decisions in interest of ALL in the long-term
    • Recalls
      • allows citizens to remove & replace a public official before the end of a term of office
      • held as a result of recall petitions from registered voters
      • they're used very rarely in 19 states only with no provision made at federal level
      • provides accountability & makes politicians answer for possible corruption or incompetence between election
      • give more power & control to electorate over elected reps. or officials
      • possible undermining of elected reps. and responsible politicians through frivolous recalls financed by their partisan opponents
        • opponents failed to defeat them in free & fair election
      • discourage the taking of blood by unpopular decisions
      • successful recall of Gray Davis (Dem. Gov.) and election of Repub. Arnold Schwarzenegger
      • Scott Walker (R. Gov. of Wisconsin) won firecely contested recall 2013
        • first Gov. to win recall in US history
      • 2013 Colorado saw successful recall of 2 state senators John Morse & Angela Giron
        • both lost following support of strict new gun control legislation
      • recalls have been proposed for the UK but not yet acted upon
    • 2017 Ohio Prop 1 consititution right for crime victims passed
    • 2017 Maine Prop 1 casino or slot machines in York Country failed

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