It is such a frustration to go shopping and encounter a hired gun, being paid to gather signatures to get a referendum question on the ballot. (And hired gun is much nicer than the phrase in my head). Bumped into a guy the other day outside the supermarket who was hustling slots at Suffolk Downs, weed legalization, and expanding private/charter K-12 education. Though he was reluctant to have a real conversation — he didn’t know anything of significance about the issues — he did admit that he’s paid well to come to Massachusetts from out of state to hustle signatures for whomever pays him.
While I think it’s sad that there are people who sell their principles so cheaply, this also is horrible for democracy. I don’t think the ballot initiative process was designed to let people buy policies they can’t enact. Nor do I know why legalizing marijuana needs to pay people to sign — I’d imagine that question would be a slam dunk. Are there any states that prohibit paying signature gatherers?