The League opposes ballot measure to override voter-approved measures

Dear Supervisors,

Supervisor Wiener's proposed charter amendment would give the Board the power to override voter-approved measures. This would mean that only a few years after San Francisco voters approve a ballot measure, the Supes could undo our vote! There is a tricky system to how this works. During the first three years the initiative is off limits. After three years, a two-thirds majority vote of the Board could change an initiative, and after seven years, all that's required is a simple majority. So say we vote on an initiative that passes in 2012, our decision as voters can be overturned after only three years?! This doesn’t seem very democratic to us. As an organization whose bread and butter is educating young and disenfranchised voters about what's on the ballot, we're really freaked out by this.

We don't think it's fair that 6 people, even elected officials, should be allowed to overturn the decision made by 300,000 people -- that's just not what Democracy is about. Sure, Supervisor Wiener isn’t targeting any specific existing legislation, but this will give the Board (and future boards!) the power to get rid of laws we may really like. We like that the people have the power to keep a check on the legislation that we help pass.

Don’t get us wrong - not all reform of this type is bad. There are problems with the ballot initiative process and, sure, sometimes voters make mistakes. It might make sense, for example, to put sunset clauses in some new legislation, or to ban paid signature gathering. We recognize that voter-passed laws sometimes have unforeseen consequences or loopholes which must be dealt with years later. But the Board already has the power to amend legislation passed by the voters--by submitting it to the voters again through a Board-created ballot proposition.

San Francisco voters trust the Board to enforce laws we approve via ballot measure. When we're on the street talking to San Franciscans, we spend a lot of time defending the Board and fighting the "all politicians are corrupt" narrative that seems to be sweeping the country. Don't make us look like fools by passing this anti-democratic charter amendment. We want our votes to count for good, not to be overturned a few years down the road. We are asking you to please vote against this charter amendment, and use your leadership to protect our rights as voters.

Sincerely,
The San Francisco League of Pissed Off Voters

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