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Amendments by Both Processes
The remainder of the first-mentioned states have the voters' constitutional initiative, by which the voters can, by petition, initiate constitutional amendments. But the legislatures also continue to submit amendments in these states. We give here the number of amendments submitted by each process in these states for this year's election:
To the total here given by legislature, we must add the 72
This gives succinctly the recent referenda of state constitutional amendments, which may be summarized as follows. By simply adding we find the following totals: 130 amendments were submitted by the old process of legislative submission, and 43 were submitted by the voters' initiative, that is, by petitions. It is evident that the old process of submitting amendments is still active, even in the states where the voters have the privilege of initiating constitutional amendments. Thus we see also that the voters' constitutional initiative has not been abused, as was feared by some anxious statesmen and educators lacking confidence in the people. If abuse is here indicated, it is by the legislatures and not the voters. In an article contributed by Governor Glynn to the New York Times for October 25, 1914, the statement is made that in New York state since 1895 over 600 proposed amendments to the consti
tution have been introduced into the legislature. No such activity by means of the voters' constitutional initiative has ever been known.
The official returns on constitutional amendments from the secretary of state of South Carolina arrived just as this article was needed for the press. The surprising data that he presents illustrate the imperfections of many of our state constitutions. The total vote for governor was 34,606 for Manning, Democrat, and 83 for Britton, Socialist. Seemingly there were no other candidates for governor.
Eleven constitutional amendments were submitted.' Though
1 The following were the amendments and the vote thereon: Amendment to Article X, State Constitution, empowering the cities of Sumter and Darlington and the towns of Belton and Walhalla to assess abutting property for permanent improvements. Total vote, 2,754; for, 2,089; against, 665.
A Joint Resolution to amend Section 8, Article II, of the Constitution, by adding thereto, on line three, after the word "College" and before the word "the" the following: "South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind, located at Cedar Springs." Total vote, 13,924; for, 10,730; against, 3,194.
A Joint Resolution to amend Section 7, Article VIII, of the Constitution, relating to Municipal Bonded Indebtedness, by adding a proviso thereto, relating to the School District of Yorkville. Total vote, 10,607; for, 5,324; against, 4,283.
A Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to Article X of the Constitu tion, by adding thereto Section 16, to empower the Cities of Florence and Orangeburg and the Town of Landrum to assess abutting property for permanent improvements. Total vote, 10,267; for, 5,971; against, 4,296.
A Joint Resolution to amend Section 20, Article III, of the Constitution, by adding there to the following: "Except where there is only one candidate nominated for the place to be filled at such election, in which case the election shall be viva voce without any roll call." Total vote, 9,478; for, 5,348; against, 4,130.
A Joint Resolution to amend Section 7, Article VIII, of the Constitution, relating to Municipal Bonded Indebtedness, by adding a proviso thereto as to the City of Florence. Total vote, 9,018; for, 5,455; against, 3,563.
A Joint Resolution to amend Section 7, Article VIII, of the Constitution of this State by adding a proviso thereto so as to empower the Cities of Chester and Sumter each to issue bonds to an amount not exceeding fifteen per cent of the assessed value of the taxable property therein for the improvement of streets and sidewalks. Total vote, 8,998; for, 5,273; against, 3,725.
A Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to Article X of the Constitution, by adding thereto a section to be designated as Section 15a, to empower the Towns of Latta and Dillon to assess abutting property for permanent improvements. Total vote, 9.485; for, 5,606; against, 3,879.
A Joint Resolution to amend Section 1, Article XII, of the Constitution, by
most of them dealt with matters of small consequence, and many were of only local application, yet the constitution of the state itself made it necessary to submit them to the voters of the entire state and to embody them in the constitution. It is obvious to any student of government that these are purely legislative matters, and most of them should be settled by local legislatures. The voters of South Carolina cannot order a measure of any kind to be put on the ballot, but the legislature must put these trivial matters on the ballot.
But South Carolina is not alone in palpable constitutional imperfections. The following were some of the measures acted upon by the Massachusetts state legislature in the session of 1913:
That Boston may appropriate for Museum of Fine Arts.
On playgrounds of Worcester.
On automatic sprinklers in Boston.
On salaries of Boston Licensing Board.
For police commissioners and license board in Chelsea.
For inclosed athletic field in Chelsea.
That Malden and Medford may make contracts as to sewage disposal.
striking out the words "Blind, Deaf and Dumb" after the word "Insane " on line two, and before the word "And" on line two. Total vote, I1,617; for, 8,217; against, 3,400.
A Joint Resolution proposing an Amendment to Article X of the Constitution, by adding thereto Section 17, to empower the Town of Fort Mill to assess abutting property for permanent improvements. Total vote, 9,041; for, 5,289; against, 3,752.
A Joint Resolution proposing an amendment to Article X of the Constitution, by adding thereto Section 16, to empower the Cities of Anderson, Greenwood and Towns of Bennettsville, Timmonsville and Honea Path to assess abutting property for permanent improvements. Total vote, 9,386; for, 5,373; against, 4,013.
For day off in seven for Boston police.
For a boys' camp in Franklin Park, Boston.
On approval of certain Quincy streets by mayor and council.
That Lynn may give cemetery lot to Relief Association of Fire De
To abolish Fall River Board of Police, etc., and election of board. That Pittsfield may grade streets, etc.
That Quincy may change method of sewer assessment.
That Worcester may set aside sites for waiting stations.
For one day off in eight for police in Chelsea, Revere and Winthrop. That Salem Police Relief Association members may continue members when not police.
That Boston may pay sum to Patrick E. Kearns.
To put Warren H. Brown on Boston pension list of firemen.
That Worcester may take land to widen Madison Street.
For widening Bridge Street, Salem, etc.
That Lynn may pay sum to James S. Kennedy.
That Holyoke may pay sums to widows of P. J. Riley and James
That police matrons in cities and towns may be pensioned.
This shows the need of a home-rule provision in the Massachusetts constitution by which all such matters may be determined by the respective localities affected. Then the Massachusetts legislature could have shorter sessions, and bienniai instead of annual ones.
Statutes Initiated and Referred
In some states statutes may be initiated by voters' petition; and usually these same states possess the voters' statutory referendum. That is, a reasonable number of voters may, by petition, initiate a law, or suspend the operation of any law passed by the legislature until said law is ratified by direct vote. In either case the direct vote on the initiated or referred statute is taken " at the next general election;" and if it receives an affirmative majority of the votes cast thereon, it is confirmed and becomes law; but if a majority of votes cast thereon are negative, the initiated law is defeated, or the pro
posed law which passed the legislature is vetoed. This last is sometimes called the voters' veto.
Legislatures have, of recent years, formed something of a habit of submitting proposed statutes to a referendum. Proposed statutes, either by the voters' initiative or by the voters' referendum or by the legislative referendum, were voted upon in the following states on November 3, the number and the process of submission being given:
To sum up the statutes, we have: Total, 75; statutes submitted by the voters' initiative, 42; statutes submitted by voters' referendum, 19; statutes submitted by legislatures, 14. This, in a general election all over the country, does not show feverish activity in the line of direct action. There is certainly no abuse here of the recently obtained powers by which voters can demand direct action. This moderation is emphasized by the facts in the next paragraph.
All the way from 500 to 3,000 laws, resolutions, etc., are passed in every state during the average legislative session; and a great many more are introduced and considered but fail of passage. So we see that the measures placed before the voters by means of the popular initiative and referendum are comparatively very few indeed. It is fitting that this should be so, for the initiative and referendum are not intended to supplant representative government, but only to restrain it when it is wrong and to supplement it when it is deficient.