Buoyed by a poll that says 65 percent of Connecticut voters support initiative and referendum a group of advocates and candidates in favor of the concept met at the state Capitol Wednesday to promote the idea.
The poll conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, a company owned by pollster Scott Rasmussen, found only 14 percent of the 500 likely voters opposed the idea of initiative and referendum and 20 percent weren’t sure about allowing citizens to collect signatures to get a specific agenda on the ballot.
When broken down by political ideology Republican favored it 71 to 11 percent and Democrats favored it 56 to 19 percent. The largest cross tab of voters in support of it was those ages 18 to 29 who favored it 92 to 8 percent.
John Woodcock III, a former Democratic state representative spearheading the call for the legislature to pass a initiative and referendum amendment, said he is disappointed Democratic candidates for office didn’t respond to his queries about their support for initiative and referendum. Several Republican and third party candidates were on hand Wednesday to endorse the concept.
“I’m disappointed they’re so indifferent to the will of the people,” Woodcock said.
However, he said the campaign to get initiative and referendum passed is not ideological and it‘s being done without any sort of agenda in mind.
“It’s purely a concept campaign,” Woodcock said.
In 2008 when Connecticut voters were allowed to decide whether to open up the state constitution, initiative and referendum was one of the concepts talked about being added by the proponents of a constitutional convention. The question was soundly defeated by 847,518 voters, 579,904 voted in favor of the convention.
That was a much broader question than what is being discussed today, Woodcock said. He said two years ago there was little discussion about initiative and referendum.
Paul Jacobs, president of Citizens in Charge Foundation, said it’s rare constitutional convention questions are passed, which is why his group prefers the legislature to pass a single amendment in favor of initiative and referendum.
But getting the legislature to give up some of its power by letting the people have a voice will be difficult.
“It’s a power struggle,” Woodcock admitted. “Does the legislature want to share power with people? The answer is obvious. It’s no.”
But Woodcock said they can’t ignore the results of the poll. He said if he was running for office he would take the poll and run on it.