As citizens, we have the privilege to elect the individuals who represent us in government. We expect them to listen to us — their constituents -— about controversial topics, gather feedback on topics the public may not be aware of and generally advocate for us in government.
Many Wyoming voters recently felt their representatives didn’t do that. After all, we elected Cindy Hill to serve as the Wyoming superintendent of public instruction. Why should the other people chosen to represent us — the Wyoming Legislature — have the authority to strip away a majority of her power?
Well, because we let them. Whether the reason be indifference, trust in our Legislature, a dislike for Hill or a lack of information on the topic, we let them.
A petition was started to repeal the law that reduced the powers of the state superintendent of public instruction, but fell short of collecting the number of signatures required to put the issue on a statewide ballot.
The Wyoming Constitution Party, which led the petition effort, needed 37,606 signatures from registered voters but only collected 21,991. The task is difficult. In the last 30 years only one referendum on a new state law has made it onto the general election ballot.
Organizers had 90 days to collect the necessary signatures — 15 percent of the votes cast in the 2012 general election. In addition, those signatures must represent 15 percent of those residing in at least two-thirds of the state’s 23 counties. Petition circulators cannot just collect signatures in the state’s most populous cities.
Yet, overturning a bill passed by the officials meant to represent us should be hard, it should take effort and it should have the support of citizens throughout Wyoming.
It should represent the views of young and old, rural and metropolitan residents and those of various income levels. It should also need to be verified.
After all, state officials have said that typically only about 56 percent of signatures collected for statewide petitions are valid.
A difficult process ensures the issues that do end up on a general election ballot due to a referendum are ones the citizens of Wyoming truly disagree with rather than the interests of small groups.