[PAX] - Should the names of petition signers be public? | INFJ Forum

[PAX] Should the names of petition signers be public?

Discussion in 'News and Politics' started by Satya, Dec 7, 2009.

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  1. Satya

    Satya C'est la vie
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    Thread is PAX, but differing opinions are welcomed.

    In Washington and Maine, referendums were pushed through to overturn gay legislation. In the case of Washington, it was R-71, which sought to overturn the "everything but marriage" domestic partnership legislation. In Maine it was R1, which sought to overturn the same sex marriage legislation. In Washington, the referendum failed, and in Maine, the referendum passed.

    However, another controversy was going on during the referendum debates. For a referendum to be created, a petition has to be created and signed by a number of citizens within a state, usually a fixed percentage of those who turned out to vote in the last governor election. In Washington these names are, by law, already a matter of public record.

    In Washington, a gay blogger promised to take the names of those who signed the R-71 petition and make them available on the internet so that people could boycott or protest against businesses or organizations which signed on with and thus made possible the anti-domestic partnership referendum. Conservative groups took this threat seriously enough to ask the courts to step in and protect them from the potential "harassment." It went back and forth in the courts and eventually ended up stalled in the Supreme Court.

    This isn't limited to just petitions. In Maine, the conservative organization the National Organization for Marriage violated campaign finance laws in that state by refusing to release the names of its donors and went so far as to sue the state so it wouldn't have to release them. NOM argues that it does not want its donors to be harassed. Currently, the organization is under investigation in Maine, and is also under investigation in California for allegedly being a front for the Church of Latter Day Saints.

    So the question is whether or not the names of petition signers should be made public. If you sign on to a voter referendum which could take rights away from a group of people, should you be able to hide behind a veil of anonymity without any repercussions? Does allowing names to be made public open the way to individuals or businesses being intimidated, bullied, or harassed? Is that justification to have names hidden?
     
    #1 Satya, Dec 7, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  2. Billy

    Billy Contents Under Pressure
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    No it should not be public should we require all members of minority groups to have their names published so we can know who to "protect"?
     
  3. OP
    Satya

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    Would you mind clarifying that? It doesn't make any sense to me. For example, all the donor's names who supported Marriage Equality in Maine are available to the public. NOM simply violated the finance law in Maine by choosing not to release all the names of those who chose to donate against Marriage Equality.

    By the same token, if a referendum were pushed through in Washington to legalize same sex marriage, then every name on that petition, by law, would be public domain. So why should the conservative groups get special treatment? Or are you saying that neither side should have its names made public? What does any of it have to do with protecting minorities?
     
    #3 Satya, Dec 7, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  4. sookie

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    I think that petitions should be public. The information should be able to be checked out. Boycotting business is fine. I think that people should be able to do that.
     
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  5. Solar Empath

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    I think he is saying that none should, but I agree that if some are required to then all should be.
     
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  6. OP
    Satya

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    Ah okay.

    I think transparency in government is a good thing.

    One of the primary reasons why the issue came up in Washington actually wasn't due to the gay blogger but because thousands of signatures were found to be fake when the state did the initial counting. Putting the names up on the internet will provide a way for people who did not sign on, but whose names somehow miraculously appeared on the petition, to come forward. My intuition is that these conservative groups are more afraid of fraud being discovered in their signature gathering process than any potential harassment from the gay community.
     
    #6 Satya, Dec 7, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  7. sookie

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    I agree with you!!! I think this is exactly true. There needs to be transparency in government. I remember hearing the following quote :"Democracy dies behind closed doors."
     
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  8. the

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    I think the names of everyone on every petition going to the government that is meant to change laws, rights, etc., should be public.
     
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  9. arbygil

    arbygil Passing through

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    Hmm, I'm not sure. I'll have to think about it. In some ways yes, showing the names of the petitioners is a good thing. You'd be able to see if the names were fake. But on the other side of the fence...if someone knew their signature would be made public, would they sign the document? Could someone use their signature illegally? I can't see how my fellow man voted in a voting both - are petitioned signatures really just an indirect method of voting?

    I do believe checks and balances should be in place, though. There should be independent agencies whose job would be to fact check the signatures when it comes to law-changing or possible law-manipulating documentation (maybe they could also check to see if the signature might be the same person's written more than once). Otherwise, yeah. Anyone could put down "Mickey Mouse" and who knows what else.
     
  10. OP
    Satya

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    They don't release a copy of the actual signature, just the name of the person who signed.
     
  11. enfp can be shy

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    The majority oppresses the minority by voting, the minority oppresses the majority by fear of random individual attacks. There should be a better way.
     
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  12. Barnabas

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    I'll step in and say that these people deserve there privacy rights.
     
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  13. OP
    Satya

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    There is. It's called the Judicial Branch. The purpose of it is to allow any individual to challenge the constitutionality of any law. In essence, it balances each government power with the individual right to challenge it in the court system.

    However, you will notice that whenever the court makes a decision, that there will be those that argue that they are "imposing" their will on the majority. It's interesting how quickly people forget that we don't live in a democracy, but rather in a Constitutional Republic.
     
  14. bamf

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    I'm going to have to side with Arbygil on this one, and be undecided. I feel that public names on petitions, especially ones that could be controversial, could/would lead to harassment of the individual (and I don't count boycotting of business harassment). I can't help but think back the Civil Rights era (which sadly seems to have died). I feel that fear of public recognition back then could/would have kept people, especially white southerners, from signing petitions for equal rights. People's livilyhoods could be at risk from public petitions on emotional/controversial issues.

    I do agree that all signitures on petitions should be checked and counterchecked for accuracy.
     
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  15. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    So basically, you go to court and you tell *EVERYBODY* to f_c_ off? And they decide based on what? On how big is your... ego?

    But then, if your ego isn't big enough, you don't have rights? _c_ :) I still think there should be a better way.
     
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    #15 enfp can be shy, Dec 7, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  16. OP
    Satya

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    But if you aren't willing to make a public stand for what you believe in, is it really worth fighting for?
     
  17. OP
    Satya

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    Not really. We have a Constitution which guarantees us certain rights. It is part of our system of government to constantly test those rights to make sure that the government isn't taking them away from us. For example, the 13th amendment guarantees that no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction, equal protection of the laws. As such, there is grounds within the 40 some states with bans against same sex marriage for a Supreme Court ruling that they must recognize same sex marriage. That would be despite the fact that 50% of the country opposes same sex marriage. And in fact, the 13th amendment was used in a similar fashion with the case of Loving v. Virgina, where it was deemed unconstitutional for states to ban interracial marriage. Back then, 19 states had bans against interracial marriage and approximately 70% of the country was against interracial marriage.

    So you see, by using the rights we are guaranteed within the Constitution, we as individuals can overthrow laws which impose on those rights through the courts. The power of the majority can be overturned by a small minority. It has nothing to do with ego. It's right there in black and white.
     
    #17 Satya, Dec 7, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2009
  18. Kavalan

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    Those who feel compelled to publicly challenge a law(petition or otherwise) should be public. Of the same token one may want a lawyer well versed in harassment laws on retainer in the sensationalist time we live in.
     
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    #18 Kavalan, Dec 7, 2009
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  19. OP
    Satya

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    Why should they receive special privileges? What puts them in anymore danger than those who support marriage equality? They signed knowing that Washington law stated that their names would be made public, so why now that there is threats of boycotting and protests should they be allowed "privacy rights"?
     
    #19 Satya, Dec 7, 2009
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  20. enfp can be shy

    enfp can be shy people vs the bad people?
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    I do not see the real justice in a system that requires you to become extremely skillful in its corrupted practices, to be able to "fight" for your own justice. You should be guaranteed justice, even if you are completely unable to fight for it, because your personal qualifications have nothing to do with your right for justice.

    For myself, I believe I could manage it to some extent, I've even done it already in one or two occasions, but not everybody could do it, and that's odd. Viewing justice like some war of wills (or ego) to be won has nothing to do with justice. We shouldn't have to fight for freedom, we should be free.
    The main problem here is: what is the exact definition of marriage. (and why does it matter... but that's another story)
     
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    #20 enfp can be shy, Dec 7, 2009
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