Voter ballot box votingShortly after graduating from Northern Arizona University with a freshly minted political science degree, it was my turn to navigate the pitfall-laden process of buying a car.

While devoting a substantial amount of my attention picturing all the great places I’d go in my beautiful new car, I allowed the salesman to convince me to purchase additional maintenance and warranty packages, adding a substantial amount of money to the purchase price for unnecessary extras. I should have been analyzing the entirety of the deal.

Since I signed the contract, I was stuck with the terms to which I had agreed. In my leisure, I regretted my haste. I don’t want Arizonans to feel regret after going to the polls in November. As we consider the slate of potential ballot initiatives asking for voter approval this year, I urge my fellow Arizonans to proceed with caution and a skeptical eye.

Currently, there are more than 25 initiatives on file with the Secretary of State’s Office attempting to qualify for the ballot. These measures seek to alter the Arizona Constitution; prohibit or force private businesses, municipalities and the Legislature to take specific actions and otherwise make permanent changes to how our government functions, businesses operate and universities are funded. Most of these measures won’t make the ballot, but some will.

Another reason to be certain before voting “yes” is that any changes made by citizens’ ballot initiatives are permanent. The Arizona Legislature is essentially powerless by state law from repealing or even altering successfully passed initiatives. Many proposals end up tying or forcing lawmakers’ hands, preventing them from using their yearly budget-crafting mandate to best serve the current needs of the state.

My days working at the Arizona Legislature gave me an insider’s perspective on why, in a given year, only a small fraction of proposed legislation actually becomes law. The system is designed to be strenuous, intentionally forcing lengthy vetting of bills and compromise between stakeholders. Although there are many valid arguments for and against any bill, the system produces considered legislation that can also be altered by future legislators in the event of unforeseen consequences. Ballot measures do not enjoy the same safeguards.

To be clear, I am not anti-ballot measure or anti-direct democracy. Occasionally, a state’s residents need to take action when the Legislature does not act quickly enough or in accordance with public sentiment. As an Arizona political veteran and business advocate, I’ve seen public support ebb and flow for many ideas and methods of governance. Few such ideas are worth permanently enshrining into the state Constitution.

I urge diligence and consideration at the polls this year as many paid interests will be asking for your support on several issues. Remember to always double-check the fine print, or we may end up agreeing to $1,200 worth of warranties just to get a $12,000 car.

Posted by Josh Coddington