California’s style of democracy

WHEN Californians go to the polls next week and again in November, the voters may ignore their legislators even more than they usually do. Like 24 other states—half the country, in effect—California gives its citizens the power to write their own state legislation, by putting on to the ballot proposals backed by a specified number of signatures. Since 1970 the voters have approved 45 such initiatives. California’s secretary of state, Bill Jones, thinks that 1998 could be a record. Nine new measures will be on offer on June 2nd, and another 49 proposals are being circulated in the hope that they will get on to the ballot either in November, this year’s main voting day, or in 2000.