If the reader believes
that there is a serious Problem, the next step is to determine if
there is a realistic Solution. Certainly,
the People have the
Government that harms the People's interest. The question is can
we find a
process that can do the job?
Others have developed
many potential solutions
Planned Solution builds upon and is indebted to its predecessors.
The Internet gives access to a wide range of potential solutions. The
Open Directory Project is
the largest, most comprehensive human-edited directory of the Web. A
vast, global community of volunteer editors maintains it. Its section on
Direct Democracy has about 35 listings, which include many alternate
solutions—the Open Directory listing for this Planned Solution is
"Calling for an American Constitutional Amendment for Citizens'
Initiatives." Searches on
Reference.com provide directories on Direct Democracy ideas,
discussions, plans and proposals.
This web site's links page has many relevant
discussions of solutions.
gives a short overview.
Congress violates the
People's constitutional rights in two of the many problem areas—general
choose their representatives. Theoretically,
someone could sue
Congress for these violations and press the issue until it reached
the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court could
admonish Congress, but the un-amended Constitution does not include
a meaningful remedy that the Court could invoke. In fact, the Court
may well adopt the position it took with the issue of
State Initiatives and dismiss for
want of jurisdiction—in effect referring it back to the People and
the States, which is exactly where it is today. Consequently, even
for these clear-cut violations of the People's rights, resolution
within the un-amended Constitution is of dubious feasibility—and the
Solution must be clearly feasible.
Many of the potential solutions proceed from fundamental improvements to the
direct democracy initiative processes used
today in 24 States.
However, the Constitutional authority for
State initiatives themselves is
disputable; resolution of this ambiguity is an additional factor
that a Constitutional Amendment can resolve.
Polls show that
U.S. Citizens are 63.5% in favor and 21.3% against initiatives Solution
in some form—i.e., three in favor for each one against. Congressional and wealthy special interests groups
will oppose it. However,
their opposition will not be unanimous.
congresspersons desire some resolution of their moral dilemmas
in representing their voters while obligating
themselves to special interests, and
many corporate executives prefer to compete on a level
playing field rather than by paid political influence.
the U.S. there are currently three plans advocating comprehensive
National Initiative for Democracy
When half of all registered U.S. voters have
electronically registered and voted
their approval, the
Democracy Amendment uses the
principle established by Article VII
of the Constitution for
ratification. The amendment will introduce
every Government jurisdiction in the country.
It will use signature petitions to qualify initiatives. The states
will appoint the governing Trustees.
Mike Gravel, a former U.S.
Senator and 2008 candidate for U.S. President, is a key proponent of
Article V Convention
Congress is obliged to call an
Article V Convention when it has
received applications from 34 States. In fact, over time,
states have submitted their applications—Friends Of the
Article V Convention (FOAVC) have found and
applications to date. Several organizations
currently demand that Congress must obey its duty to call an Unlimited
Article V Convention without unilaterally presuming to decide on the
validity of the applications. An Unlimited Article V Convention can consider a range of issues—including a
Citizens' Initiatives Amendment. Key advocacy comes
from FOAVC.org, which is supported by
This site’s plan uses the Constitution’s
second method in which
the States apply for a
Limited Article V Convention, then propose and
finally ratify the Amendment. It accommodates Congressional
unwillingness to call an
Unlimited Article V Convention by addressing
only the limited issue of a Citizens' Initiatives Amendment.
reasonably contemporaneous applications for the Convention, which will
prevent Congress invoking laches
against the States in order to avoid calling the Convention. It also
accommodates prior "necessary and
proper" congressional interpretations contained in the
CRS report on second
The three alternatives are not directly competitive: plan 1 used an
Article VII approach, plan 2 uses an Unlimited Article V Convention, while plan 3—this site's
approach—uses an Limited Article V Convention. Thus, this plan is the
most narrowly focused of the three alternatives—it gains only the right of nationwide Ballot Initiatives.
adequate to resolve the federal government Problems while being unlikely to
conflict with conventional constitutional interpretations or precipitate a constitutional crisis.
In addition, because it involves only a single issue and has many
easy repeal, it
probably entails the fewest risks.
preconditions quickly reduce the large number of possible solutions to a meaningful few:
A solution cannot utilize
or hereditary representatives because special interests
can always identify and contact such people. In the long term,
it is inevitable that special interests will have the capability
to influence them when they wish.
The People's only known methods for making
fair decisions over long periods follow the principles of our
jury system drawn from the People. By its transient, random and
private-citizen nature, it is hard for special
interests to identify many Members or to
tamper with them. Moreover, any tampering is
extremely risky and only temporary.
Therefore, the Solution must be of this type—involving only the
People. More specifically,
of direct democracy
that cannot have any form of elected, appointed or hereditary representative organization
in its hierarchy.
If too many initiatives appear on the ballot, voters
will be overwhelmed and voter turnout may decline. Consequently, special
interests can make special efforts to get their supporters to
cast a ballot and thereby will have an opportunity to influence
Therefore, the Solution must result in
single organization that can consolidate and rank the
proposed initiatives in order to select the best. This enables the
Electorate to focus on just the most worthy and important
initiatives, preventing waste of the Electorate's time, reducing
costs and avoiding voter overload.
Congress is the focus of the
problems and the Constitution is the only legal authority higher
than Congress. Consequently,
substantive solution will require a Constitutional
Amendment granting the People an unbridled oversight
capability with requisite
authority—the People cannot permit Congress to
overturn or circumvent their authority. Politics are all about power and its
benefits. Without the power to insist on congressional
compliance, a solution would be
The next steps are to define the
essential elements of potential
Based on the Problem
definition, the only viable potential solution alternatives require
some form of direct democracy
established by constitutional reform. Theorists can decide whether this solution is
true direct democracy or
pragmatic direct democracy—the issue addressed here is simply whether or not a
workable Solution exists within the constraints of the
existing constitutional and political environment. The potential
solutions described below exemplify the issues. In all cases, they have three essential elements:
Right to Propose Initiatives
U.S. Citizen Groups and U.S. organizations
will have the constitutional
right to propose Initiatives for federal legislation and
The following will increase the number of Proposed Initiatives:
Making the required number of Citizens in a group relatively
Including the U.S. Citizens in Organizations so that their
skills are incorporated and Organizations are not encouraged to
deceive by using their employees as surrogates
Keeping initiative's publication costs affordable but sufficient
to deter abuse of the right to propose Initiatives
this Planned Solution deliberately
omits authorization of
recall. In the U.S., referendums are a
functional power of the
can generally replace worthy nationwide referendums since
Congress is a
U.S. organization and can propose initiatives. Federal
recalls, especially of those in unique office, would be complex
in order to assure continuity of government. Consequently, including referendum and recall
would cloud the primary purpose of this Solution.
A Gateway System to Qualify Initiatives
A gateway system reduces the large number of Initiatives
proposed by the People to a much smaller set of qualified Candidate Initiatives
on the ballot that will not overwhelm the voters. The design of
Gateway is a central issue
in advancing from direct democracy on the
scale of a New England
Town Meeting to direct democracy on a nationwide scale. The
difficulty of finding a suitable Gateway—especially before
statistical techniques were widely understood—has been a
constraint on the credibility of nationwide direct democracy as
a means for the People's oversight of their representative
The choice of the best Gateway option is therefore critical.
Right to Vote on Qualified Candidate Initiatives
has the constitutional right to vote on Candidate
Initiatives at general elections. In order to guarantee State
and address local minority rights, a
double majority vote is required to pass the Initiative.
The final step it to compare the main methods for selecting and
qualifying Initiatives and choose the best.
Today, in a large political unit with
many millions of Citizens nationwide, three
candidates have emerged as the leaders. Each has substantial
signature petition system qualifies initiatives to become
Candidate initiatives. In 1902, Oregon was the first State to
use its modern form, from which came the name "Oregon
States that permit
initiatives now generally use variations of the Oregon
System. Switzerland also uses similar systems extensively.
However, signature petitions are inappropriate for
qualifying U.S. nationwide Ballot Initiatives principally because:
This method has the principle benefits of extensive experience
and apparent simplicity. Based on this, it has
proliferated without the critical scrutiny of its defects that it probably
should have received.
The People's deliberation on
a signature petition initiative commences soon after its small
group of proponents file the initiative
in correct form.
However, from this
early date no one can modify the initiative, so the
People's debate cannot affect the wording. Moreover,
signature gatherers need only obtain qualification signatures
backers—without any true demonstration of any general public support.
Theoretically, opponents can organize a counter petition, but
activists frequently prevail by exhausting their opponents.
Thus, a few activists can word an initiative that in part the
majority does not want—the devil is in the detail because the
electorate has no input on the wording. They must either approve the whole initiative or reject it
and try to start the whole process again—the voters cannot
change the sponsors' wording however devious or damaging it may be. This is akin to the "pork"
appended to congressional bills and antithetical to direct
democracy. It is one reason why some inferior State
initiatives get on the ballot and, if they have overpowering media promotion,
they become law.
critical deficiency of the
Oregon System is that the signature gatherers generally
present only the reasons in favor of the proposed initiative in
order to persuade the voters to sign. Moreover, the voters
usually spend only a few moments to consider the issue before
signing. Many voters in their haste are susceptible to
misleading information and slogans.
The Boule (Citizens'
Initiatives Assembly) approach, on the other hand,
takes as much time as necessary to collect the relevant
information and deliberate on both the Pros and the Cons of the
initiatives. Consequently, the
Boule approach qualifies
initiatives with far more insight and wisdom than the Oregon
U.S. Initiative would require 5 to 10 million
gathered at great private cost and
certified at great public
expense. There would also have to be geographic requirements on
the distribution of signatures to assure state and civil rights.
Abuses of the signature gathering process are widespread.
proponents can employ
paid signature gathers
as their constitutional right under the First and Fourteenth
This has been constrained only to prevent payment for
piecework based on the number of signatures gathered—ninth Circuit
Bradbury) February 2006. Oregon, North Dakota, and Wyoming
implemented this constraint; other
initiative states will probably follow. Despite this constraint,
special interest proponents using paid signature gatherers
still virtually guarantee that their Initiatives will be qualified
for the ballot; less-wealthy Initiative proponents are not so
has recently become obvious that state initiatives can cause voters an
emotional response leading to a
spillover effect favoring one candidate over another. In
some cases, it appears now that at least part of the reasons for
particular initiatives have been be to increase one
political party's voter turnout more than the other.
Even though the voters are often able to detect wealthy special
interest control and
vote accordingly, excessive special interest control is undesirable.
Moreover, special interests groups are clever at hiding their influence and finding ways around attempts to
moderate their influence.
The method can generate an
excessive number of Initiatives—many
devious or of poor quality—that can overload the Electorate,
waste voters' time and cause a
decline in voter participation in elections. Over the period
1901-2000, there have been 1,997 State initiatives, of which
41 percent were approved by the voters—not a high
proportion and therefore wasting much voter time
studying inappropriate initiatives. Voter's time is not a
trivial issue—waste of just one hour for each of the 100 million
voters at a nominal $10/hour totals one billion dollars
Internet Voting System
Internet voting system allows the voters to vote online
using the Internet. Between 2000 and 2004,
several political Internet votes have occurred in the States
of Alaska, Arizona, Michigan, and the
canton of Geneva in
Switzerland. The latter vote was on a binding nationwide
has introduced a version of Internet voting for proposing and
qualifying initiatives, then using conventional voting for
approval. An e-book entitled "Beyond
Plutocracy" describes a comprehensive Internet-centric
form of direct democracy.
Though Internet voting technology is
still in its infancy, its
eventual feasibility is
not in doubt as an important component of nationwide
However, advocates tend to over-estimate the power of the
technology. The issue of qualification is not a tractable
problem for this technology.
unsuitable for qualifying proposed Initiatives:
Voting by the usual number of nationwide voters on unqualified proposed initiatives will
gigantic amount of time—many
billions of person-hours worth many tens of billions of
dollars—for them to become
familiar enough to vote sensibly. Note that there are
inevitably many more proposed initiatives than qualified
initiatives. However, without the Electorate spending the effort
to study all the proposed initiatives, nationwide voting would have little meaning or validity to
will not be
fair because widespread
participation is an unrealistic expectation. Vigorous activists
of special interest groups and persons paid by special
interests groups will get enough
internet votes to advance petitions (many devious or of poor
quality) that will overload the Electorate, waste voters'
time and cause a
decline in voter participation in elections.
of 2006, Internet voting will
discriminate against about
26 percent of Voters because they are currently unwilling or unable to use the
Risks of Internet attacks, fraud,
impersonation, data theft, etc.
example, in a situation less complex than Internet-based voting,
the manufacturer of the electronic voting machines used in 37
states apparently did not protect the source code adequately.
The code became widely available on the Internet in 2003. Thus,
a lack of an auditable paper trail, and certain design flaws,
the integrity of many machines for the 2004 elections and
exposed them to risk of
fraud. Fortunately, as of 2007, e-voting is apparently
receiving better grades.
Eventually, on-line Internet voting systems will probably be
good enough to handle fraud-free election voting for
representatives, initiatives, and other matters. However, in the
foreseeable future, Internet voting is unlikely to qualify proposed initiatives
because the process would not be economically or democratically
up to the job.
A Boule or
Randomly Selected Citizens
People will manage the Initiative process. Boule
Members will be
Citizens selected randomly like a large grand jury—our
only incorruptible method for making
fair decisions. It will be
tamper-proof and safe from special interests control. This
Boule (i.e., U.S. Citizens'
Initiatives Assembly) will be independent of any external
control and constitutionally responsible only to the People:
avoids the problems inherent in the Signature Petition
and Internet Voting Systems described above.
Since members of the Boule are an accurate
cross-section of the all the People, the Boule will
dependably qualify Candidate Initiatives that are important
and that are in the best interests of all the People. If necessary,
after Citizens' feedback, deliberation, and expert advice, the
suggest changes of a Proposed Initiative to the original
authors so that the Initiatives serve all the People in the
The Boule is equivalent to the People because it looks,
behaves, thinks and speaks as the People. The 100 million
nationwide voters will know that their time will not be
wasted by Initiatives generated by this process—they will be
presented with important,
top-quality Candidate Initiatives
on which they will want to vote.
debate on proposed
begins from the date that the authors publish them in
a newspaper for consideration by the Boule. Shortly
thereafter, the Boule will arrange to load the
publisher's electronic data into the Boule's database of
all proposed Initiatives. One of the most convenient methods
for the voters will be to make comments and recommended
changes on the Boule's database. This capability will
evolve with the
available Internet technologies. Initially, it will
probably take a form resembling a blog. The debate continues
until election date. However, the Peoples' input to the
Boule cannot affect the Initiative's wording after the
Initiative is put on the ballot about four months before the
election date. Thus, on average, the Peoples' comments can
provide feedback to the Boule about a proposed Initiative
for a period of about ten months.
The 480 Members of the Boule, who accurately mirror the
views of all the People, qualify initiatives.
This subset of
the People is arguably more democratic than the subsets used
in the other alternatives, which special interests can
Petitions (above), where the
subset consists of the
Initiative's proponents who write the initiative and qualify
it by choosing who will sign the petition—while those who
oppose the petition cannot register their opinion in the
(ii) Internet Voting
(above), where the
subset consists of vigorous activists
and persons paid by special interests to qualify the initiative by
Internet voting—while the vast majority of the People do not
have time to participate.
The chance of the
Boule approach permitting passage of a bad Initiative is
less than the Oregon System passing a bad Initiative.
The underlying reason is that the Oregon System essentially
involves only two independent organizations, whereas
Athenia Boule System essentially involves three independent
In the Oregon System, a group who are emotionally committed
to the idea writes the Initiative. This same group organizes
and/or pays to collect the signatures to qualify the
Initiative. Later, the Electorate approves it. In other
words, it has only two emotionally independent organizations
that must pass affirmatively.
By comparison, in the Boule system, a group of Citizens
writes a proposed Initiative, an independent Boule
selects and qualifies it, and the Electorate approves it. In
other words, it has three emotionally independent
organizations that must pass affirmatively.
▪ In ancient
Council of Five
Hundred operated for 180 years like this Planned
Boule—i.e., 500 randomly selected Athenian citizens
serving for one year with pay choosing the candidate
initiatives on which the people voted.
during 2004, a randomly selected Citizens' Assembly
placed a Direct Initiative on the Provincial election
ballot. It is widely acclaimed to have succeeded in its
goals and objectives. The B.C. government convened the Citizens' Assembly
to address a single issue and therefore
was not permanent and independent in the sense required of
the Boule. However, the results clearly demonstrated and
documented the capability of a
Boule to do the job.
It resulted in their
referenda in 2004 and 2009.
B.C. Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform in a 2004 plenary session
Photo by Stuart Davis #715955 by kind permission of
The Vancouver Sun
(It is not a copyright of Citizens for U.S. Direct
is now considering a
measure of its own. Assemblymembers Keith Richman and Joe Canciamilla
introduced ACA 28 in January
2006 to create a
Citizens' Assembly on Electoral
Assembly will consist of 200 randomly selected members and
will have a somewhat similar charter to that of the B.C.
In June 2006, a
Citizens' Assembly selected the Mayor of Marouski,
Greece. The Assembly consisted of 160
citizens used the Deliberative Polling®*
techniques developed by J. S. Fishkin,
Director of the Center
for Deliberative Democracy at Stanford.
Extensive use is being made of randomly selected
Citizen Juries®* that can be
convened to deliberate on important matters of public
Citizens' Juries can review and
evaluate proposed initiatives and render unbiased opinions
to guide voters. In general, a Citizens' Jury is much smaller
than a Citizens' Assembly is, but larger than a trial jury—i.e.,
18 to 24 members,
about the size of an Assembly
Deliberative Task Force. The methodology and experience
from Citizens' Juries are therefore relevant to the planned
▪ Randomly selected
citizens' assemblies in
many other countries have
deliberated on important issues and rendered their
recommendations. Though they did not have the power to put
their recommendations as an initiative, the deliberative
assembly process was well tested. For example, from 1994
through 2004 there were over a
dozen major deliberative
assemblies in Denmark, England, the USA and Australia. The
number of assembly members was generally between 100 and
460. They usually met for two to four days, and typically
received an honorarium of $150 per day. They
usually focused their deliberations on a single issue,
though occasionally several issues, which included Becoming a
Republic, Crime, Currency, Democratization, Economy,
European Union, General Elections, Global Economy,
Humanitarian Issues, Military, Monarchy, National Health, Reconciliation with Aboriginal Peoples, Role of
Family, Taxes and Utilities.
The two styles of Citizen Assembly require clarification to
distinguish between them:
The capabilities of both styles of Citizens' Assemblies are
similar. Experiences in their operation are transferable.
However, the distinctions are important to defining their
Internet citizen participation will be encouraged using
capabilities provided by the Boule's database of proposed
initiatives. This will permit the
People's input and debate to influence the Initiative
from the time the Initiative enters the
Boule's database, through the draft Candidate Initiative
stage. The Boule may contact original authors of
proposed initiative to suggest changes and re-submission of a revised version. This will continue until it becomes a
Candidate Initiative about four to five months before
the Election. From then until the Election the Initiative
in unchangeable, but the public debate will continue on
its merits until the nationwide Electorate votes.
Boule solution has great cost effectiveness. The initial
budget for the Boule will be $90 million for the first year including startup
costs; it falls to $75 million in the second year and $60 million for
subsequent years—corresponding to
less than 50¢ per voter. Member's remuneration will help ensure they
attend and preserve the integrity of the random sample. The Government will
provide the funds and the
Boule will have the right to borrow if the Government is not prompt.
cost-effective Solution will
save many times more than it will cost;
annual budget is miniscule compared with the cost of:
First class letter stamp for every Citizen, which is
almost the same cost
signature petitions, which would be about 5 to 20 times
Elections, which would be about 20 to 30 times greater
which is about 60 times greater
Fixing voting machines after the 2000 elections,
which was about 60 times greater
State expenditures for federally mandated programs,
which are about 500 times greater
Voting System to qualify initiatives, which could be 1,000
which is about 2,700 times greater
National Debt Increase in 2004,
which was about 10,000 times greater
The above discussion justifies recommending
the Boule approach as the Planned Solution for qualifying U.S.
nationwide Ballot Initiatives. Large States and Cities can also
apply this Boule approach. However, it does
not scale down well for small political entities because the size
of the Boule does not decrease in proportion to the decrease in
the size of the electorate.
The following table presents the detailed key
objectives and criteria that can compare with other possible
solutions to confirm that the selected solution is reasonable.
Control by the People
Enables the voters to create and control the Solution because
Government has an inherent conflict of interests and is
to do it on behalf of the People.
Politics is about power—without enforceable power, a Solution could not
implement the will of the People.
The key element of power in this solution is the Direct
Previous Successful Citizens' Initiatives Assemblies
In Ancient Athens, the
of Five Hundred or Boule operated successfully 180 years.
In British Columbia, the
Citizens' Assembly 2004-05 showed that the
People could produce a very competent Direct
Initiative in much the same way as planned here.
Gives the People
oversight authority to ensure that Government promotes the
general well-being ahead of congresspersons and wealthy special interests groups.
Ability to Address Long-Term Issues
Can address some
long-term social, ethical, fiscal, legal and other issues presently ignored
or avoided by Government due to
political re-election pressure for short-term results.
Is practical and
cost-effective: It is practical in that it will work, is
implementable and will solve the Problems. It is cost-effective
because all alternatives are many times more costly.
Maintains efficiency and avoids filling the ballot with
unworthy Initiatives by
cutting back Boule operations whenever workload
Initiatives Create Slight Increase in Turnout
On average, there is little effect in Presidential election
years, but a
3 to 8 percent increase in voter turnout for mid-term
Avoid Manipulation and Corruption
special interest manipulation, influence and other abuses of the
signature-petition initiatives qualification process as
developed and used in
Prevent Abuses of the Boule or its Members
abuses and is tamperproof.
Be safe from
influence or attempted
takeover by special interest groups.
Include as Many Citizens as Possible
Chooses the Boule from
all Citizens eligible to vote rather than Citizens registered to
vote, re-enfranchising many who have lost faith in the political
Avoids cumbersome and expensive petitions requiring 5 to 10
nationwide signatures, which Governments will have to certify
at great public expense.
deliberative assembly approach, as there is compelling
evidence that it can do the job best.
Permanence and Continuity
a continuing mechanism to redress comprehensively current
and future Problems, including repeat closing of
loopholes and end-runs.
The Boule's existence alone presents an oversight potential
that continuously "prods" Government to consider the People
Compliant with U.S. Constitution
constitutionally sound (including the
guarantee clause) while requiring minimal
constitutional change or disturbances to the political
system—evolution rather than
and balances including
Reduces Risk of
Tyranny by the Majority and by a Minority
Protects against tyranny
majority because minorities are vocally and
empathetically present and
by a minority because they cannot retain power.
Use Technology Effectively
Uses present-day technology, but be capable of
evolving to improve and
adopt new technology—e.g.,
Citizens' input on Boule web-database of proposed Initiatives; input
on specific proposed Initiatives by
polls in conference and online; straw votes by registered
Ensure Initiatives are Appropriate
Initiatives are important, well prepared and are what the
Electorate want on the ballot.
Avoid Voter Overload
initiatives and ballot information from being imposed on the voters,
which otherwise would often exceed the amount of time and effort
voters are willing to
Is entirely apolitical and
non-partisan—it provides the initiative process not any position
on specific initiatives.
Includes a safeguard so the People can
repeal the Amendment if it does not meet the People's expectations.
An additional benefit is to garner support of citizens and
organizations who like the Solution but fear irreversible
Faithful to American Ideals
Is faithful to the ideals
great experiment in democracy and
Government Actions and
Rules provide the complete details of the planned Solution. For the
readers' convenience, this section summarizes them.
Planned Solution will provide the People with the means to
break special interests' hold on Government. It will achieve this by a
Constitutional Amendment authorizing
using nationwide Ballot Initiatives
proposed by the People.
Our republican form of government will continue unabated, except
that the People will have on-going power to remedy excesses, failures and abuses
by the People's government.
25 or more
who are eligible to vote, and any
U.S. organization, will be able to propose Initiatives—the Boule may reduce the size of the Citizens' group after
the initial flood of proposed initiatives. They will use their grass-roots problem solving
rights by proposing
an Initiative through
publication as an
advertisement following a standard format in a specified location(s) and dates selected by the
costs will encourage brevity and
costs will be readily affordable by an organization or a group of citizens who feel strongly on
may be a:
Proposed U.S. law—most
Initiatives will be in this form.
Direct Initiative, the People's greatest power in Direct
Democracy, may also propose
Constitutional Amendment—laws cannot define some things such as
line item veto;
constitutional Amendments are required.
questionnaire to determine voters' preferences especially in
advance of a Constitutional Amendment Initiative
Initiatives have power to remedy the types of problems identified on the
Problem page and other problems as they might
arise in the future—Initiatives will, in
effect, bring the Constitutional system of checks and balances up to
date. Even the threat of initiative is often sufficient to cause
appropriate legislative action. For example, almost
80 percent of initiative States now have legislative term limits
compared with only just over 10 percent of non-initiative states.
The Amendment will establish a
fully independent Boule
of the People
to manage the Initiative process. The Boule will be accountable only to the Electorate.
The Boule will propose Direct Initiatives for any change to its annual budget and
to its operations. The Boule will meet
far from Washington D.C.
Boule Members will be
Citizens selected randomly operating somewhat like a
only incorruptible method for making fair decisions,
it will be
tamper-proof and safe from special interests' control. Its Members will be a representative cross-section of the Citizens
who are eligible to vote—i.e., ordinary people just like the
It will be
large enough to
be a good
cross-section of the People, yet
to be effective. They will meet for
part of each month, usually about
five to ten days.
will be a mandatory duty
for one year—the mandatory nature of the duty is important because each
Member uniquely represents 406,000 voters whose opinions are similar to their
own; each failure to serve will cause some distortion to the
accuracy with which the Boule mirrors the entire Citizenry.
Member remuneration will be
a $300 per day plus
potential bonus and expenses.
safeguards will protect Members from
gag order will protect
Members' status as private persons and will preserve the
tranquility of the Boule. It will remain in effect
while the Electorate has still to vote on Members' and ex-Members' Initiative
efforts for a minimum of two years and a maximum of five years.
Thereafter, all older documents, including
recordings and videos of meetings,
will become public.
Operation of Boule
will be no direct contact between those who propose initiatives and
the Boule Members to avoid inappropriate influence.
The Boule will call upon whatever
presentations, hearings, testimony and expert help it needs.
will research and
deliberate in small
groups and in plenary sessions of the Boule. They will
and, by a thorough progressive
and formal deliberation
will reduce proposed initiatives to a manageable number of the best
(precisely the Initiatives the People would have chosen if they had
the time to thoroughly study and deliberate on the issues). The
will not change the proposed Initiatives—however,
after Citizens' feedback, deliberation, and expert advice, if the Boule
finds improvements to a proposed Initiative, it may suggest
these improvements to the original authors and they may
it. The Boule will submit them as
Indirect or Advisory Initiatives as indicated by the authors. The Direct Initiative will be the real power or the People, the
Indirect Initiative will be important in a supportive Congress, and
Advisory Initiatives play a useful role in seeking the best
solutions for complex issues.
extensive debate, reviews, advice and feedback the Boule
will finally select just a
Candidate Initiatives of greatest importance
for the People while not overburdening
them. The Boule will publish Draft Candidate Initiatives for public comment and then
Candidate Initiatives that will go on the ballot. Each
Candidate Initiative will have
Congress and Supreme Court opinions
Voting by the Electorate
The Boule will put
a maximum of
Direct Initiatives or Advisory Initiatives
for nationwide vote by the People at
election and a maximum of six
Indirect Initiatives per year will be
as recommendations to Congress (compared with the about
bills passed by Congress annually). The
high cost of
odd-year Initiatives prohibits their use.
Quality of Initiatives
Boule Membership will consist of
eligible voters. This number is has
almost equal accuracy (±
4.5 percent) to the accuracy (±
4 percent) of
nationwide polls. It also
ensures that every
State except Wyoming
and the District of Columbia is represented (on average) by one or
more Members. Each Boule Member will spend a far larger amount of
time and care than a voter can spend evaluating information,
debating issues, and reaching good decisions on proposed
Initiatives. Since Boule Members' views will approximate those of
the entire Electorate, it is likely that the Initiatives on the
ballot will be those that the voters most want or need to vote on.
avoid wasting Voter's time, encouraging voter participation. Since
there are well over 100 million voters at federal elections, efforts
to avoid wasting the time of so many people are of great
Safeguards Provided Within the Solution
separate safeguards section of this web site presents many safeguards
of this Planned Solution.
The Amendment delegates much authority for future changes to the
Boule. In particular, instead of constraining the Boule with
hard-to-change Constitutional Rules, the Amendment incorporates them
into the Boule's Rules in the form of
Initiative Rules. These can be changed or enhanced over time by
using Direct Initiatives to get approval from the People for
Boule changes. In addition, a
supermajority vote of the Boule can change many less critical aspects of the
A constitutional Amendment is
the only method to authorize
the Constitution and our republican form
of government. This Amendment
authorizes direct democracy Initiatives and the Boule, and grants them
constitutional authority. It instructs the government to take various
necessary actions and to convene the first Boule meeting, after which the
Boule will be completely independent and self-governing. The Amendment adopts a starting set of Rules to guide the
"Citizens Jury" is a registered trademark of the nonprofit
"Deliberative Polling" is a registered trademark of
Professor James S. Fishkin
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