A few days ago I commented upon North Carolina’s woefully inadequate protest petition statute and how the Town of Jamestown had to figure out whether protest petitions were valid (or not). I received several replies, some offering further commentary and others with questions.
In response to one of the comments I offered this reply: “I’m still a strict constructionist on this one. Deciding an issue by majority vote is so integral to our democratic processes that placing the power to change the entire model in the hands of (often) one single person is something that should only be done when the statutory threshold, as clearly written, on clear facts, has clearly been met. To view this as “the” neighbor versus “the” developer is myopic. It’s “the” neighbor with unilateral power to alter the manner in which duly elected officials can transact the public’s business.”
I stand by that. When we start toying with the structural foundations of our democratic institutions, allowing a single individual to usurp the authority that thousand of citizens placed into the hands of their elected officials at the ballot box, the threshold for allowing that usurpation should be high and it should be exactingly clear.
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