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News Opinion Readers Respond

Referendums only impede will of voters

Maryland's referendum rules need to be changed, as leaders have suggested ("Petition process under scrutiny," Jan. 9), and opponents are quite wrongheaded as demonstrated by the letter from Raymond L. Miles ("Referendum is vital check on government power," Jan. 14).

Conservatives love to tell us America is a republic, not a democracy, by which they mean it has an elected representative government. Yet the Maryland Republicans violate their own conservative republican principles when they petition every law constitutionally passed by the people's elected representatives and signed by the governor elected by the majority of Marylanders to a plebiscite.

The two worst aspects of Maryland's referendum law are that it is an immediate veto of constitutionally passed legislation, holding it hostage until the next general election, which may be two years away, and that this frustration of popular will can be forced by such a tiny sliver of the electorate, only 3 percent of votes in the last gubernatorial election.

Advocates, such as Mr. Miles, justify referendums by the claim that our constitutional, elected government is somehow a usurpation of popular will. This claim is belied by the majority support of all Maryland voters for all three laws petitioned to referendum. Referendums are not a needed shield against tyranny; they are merely a stick in the spokes of constitutional, representative government, nothing more than a temper tantrum by those whom Marylanders have rejected.

James Kelly, Ellicott City

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