MDD would also serve to make the initiative process more responsive and responsible. While voices not represented in state legislatures would ideally be heard through direct democracy, the initiative process is becoming less and less accessible to grassroots organizations. Under conventional regulations, successful ballot qualification may depend less on the breadth of a proposal’s popular support than the depth of sponsors’ pockets (Center for Governmental Studies 2008). In populous states with relatively short circulation periods – such as California – the near impossibility of qualifying an initiative without using paid signature gatherers places a de facto filing fee of roughly $2 million on each proposal. This has persuaded initiative reform advocates to seek a more democratic method of ballot qualification: “A viable proposal for reestablishing the principle of popular support as the primary factor behind successful ballot qualification must either restrict the role of money in the petition circulation process or devise a new method of ballot qualification that does not require extensive monetary resources” (Ibid., 185). MDD offers such a method: it would provide ballot access to initiative sponsors who have demonstrated their political program’s broad base of popular support by meeting the requirements for party qualification.
Broadening ballot access to include political parties would also contribute to responsible fiscal decision-making. While nonparty initiative sponsors may not consider how their “ballot-box budgeting” affects a state’s long-term financial future, parties typically advocate comprehensive economic platforms in which their expectations for government spending are balanced with proposals for raising the necessary revenue.
Finally, political parties’ participation would make the initiative process more accountable to voters. Unlike representative democracy, in which elected officials and parties are held accountable to voters by future elections, initiative sponsors who do not intend to propose future measures face few penalties for deceiving voters, and are therefore largely unaccountable to them (Cain and Miller 2001). While some nonparty initiative sponsors may attempt to hide their true motives, this is unlikely to occur with parties. Since voters would ultimately decide whom they trusted enough to grant ballot access, maintaining credibility would be a constant concern of any party that hoped to submit future proposals. Parties could not buy ballot access; they would have to earn it.