O’Connell argues that allowing petitions on standard, letter size paper would democratize the process, allowing anybody to just print off a petition and start collecting signatures… making signature gathering all the more affordable to grassroots organizations.
Sure would. And it would also make signature gathering less expensive to profiteers like Tim Eyman, partisan propaganda mills like the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, and right-wing, pro-business front groups like the Washington Farm Bureau.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against letter-sized petitions as part of a broader initiative reform package. In fact, I-831 (my “Tim Eyman is a Horse’s Ass” initiative) was one of the first initiative campaigns to make PDF versions of its petition available for download, and I lamented at the time the hassle of meeting the paper-size requirement. But anything that makes it easier to gather signatures without forcing sponsors to be more honest and responsible, is simply going to multiply the number of dishonest and irresponsible initiatives.
I recently suggested a number of reforms to the initiative process, and it would certainly be worth adding O’Connell’s proposal to the list. But enacting this change on its own will only serve to make our existing initiative industry more efficient and profitable.