Georgia received a poor grade for its statewide voter initiative rights, according to a Virginia-based national voter rights group. The non-partisan organization, dubbed Citizens in Charge Foundation, stamped the Peach State with a ”˜D’ on its 2010 report card because state residents “do not have any statewide initiative and referendum rights,” according to its report called The 2010 Report Card on Statewide Voter Initiative Rights. The report did note “a majority of state citizens do enjoy local initiative and referendum rights.”

Alabama and Mississippi are among 11 states getting a grade of “F” on the first annual report card by the Citizens in Charge Foundation, a Virginia-based group that supports voters’ ability to change the law through statewide ballot initiatives and referendums. Out of a possible 11 points, for example, Alabama got only one on the grounds that some cities allow residents the right to local “initiative and referendum.”

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State gets big fat F on voter-initiative-rights report card: Citizens in Charge Foundation, a transpartisan national voter-rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process, released its Virginia Report in the 2010 Report Card on Statewide Voter Initiative Rights on Thursday, and Virginia received an F in the rendering by Citizens in Charge.

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Most states scored poorly on the 2010 Report Card on Statewide Voter Initiative Rights released in late January by the Lake Ridge, Va.-based Citizens in Charge Foundation, a national voter rights group focused on the ballot initiative and referendum process. The report card reviewed initiative and referendum rights in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, detailed the policies and laws that restrict those rights, and suggested reforms for each state to improve its grade.

It’s been a hot topic for months that’s now headed to a courtroom. On Monday night, several people in Big Spring made a decision to go up against the City Council. They’re even bringing in watchdog groups from as far away as Virginia. On Monday night, the Concerned Citizens Council met at the Howard County Library and voted to file a lawsuit against the City of Big Spring for what they call an illegal meeting. They claim city leaders used an emergency meeting about valuations to dismiss their petition - calling for an election.

The Citizens in Charge Foundation, a Virginia-based voter rights group, has awarded the Howard County Citizens for Open Government with its December John Lilburne Award. The award, presented each month to people or groups working to defend the right to petition, is named after a 17th-century English pamphleteer and political activist. Howard County Citizens for Open Government was recognized for its efforts to overturn a Board of Elections decision invalidating more than 80 percent of the signatures on a petition to block the construction of a grocery store at Turf Valley.

Citizens in Charge Foundation — led by Paul Jacob, best known as leader of the term limits movement and as a member of the now free Oklahoma 3 — is building what, in my experience, appears to be the first truly national organizing network around initiative and referendum.

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As Americans rise up all across the country to challenge a political elite that many believe does not listen to them, it is important to consider the tools that people in many states have employed to directly affect change: the petition.

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A day before the event, organizers said a mere 20,000 or so folks had registered for Saturday’s amazing 9/12 march on Washington to protest out-of-control government. What they got was hundreds of thousands of  intensely patriotic people who came to the nation’s capitol to yell “Stop!”

By now, any Californian who has not been hounded to sign a petition for a ballot initiative must never go grocery shopping or strolling along a downtown street. The paid signature gatherers are abundant, they are aggressive and sometimes they are deceptive in their pitches. Most of them have an incentive to be pushy and not quite forthright: They are being paid by the signature.