Advisory public policy questions are a vestigeof pure democracy in Massachusetts. The petition of 200 voters may put them on the ballot at our state or federal elections, which occur every two years.
Your editorial “Ballots: Bound up in non-binding questions” lamented that these questions contributed to long delays in this month’s election. Delay is surely undesirable. However, in years such as 2006 and 2010, when the presidency is not at stake, turnout is regrettably low, and long delays tend not to happen. If there is merit in the editorial’s implicit call to curb public policy questions, abolition or restriction should be limited to the quadrennial presidential elections. The opportunity for voters to collectively communicate their positions to their elected officials by means of ballot questions should not be curtailed in non-presidential years.
The First Amendment provides the rights not only to freedom of speech but to petition the government. Vox populi, vox dei.