iSolon.org is a non-profit committed to exploring and advancing opportunities for democratic reform where elected officials have a conflict of interest with the American public and auxiliary democratic institutions are needed to address the conflict. Its current area of focus is state constitutional convention based democratic reform. Fourteen U.S. states have a periodic referendum on whether to convene a state constitutional convention. The last one was Rhode Island in 2014; the next is New York in 2017. In most of these states, the referendum appears on the ballot only once every twenty years. In most of these states, too, a state constitutional convention offers the only opportunity to bypass the legislature’s gatekeeping power over constitutional amendment. iSolon.org’s previous area of focus was the use of information technology to enhance democratic accountability.
For a review of the literature, history, and democratic function of the periodic state constitutional convention referendum, see J. H. Snider, Does the World Really Belong to the Living? The Decline of the Constitutional Convention in New York and Other US States, 1776–2015, Journal of American Political Thought 6, no. 2 (Spring 2017): 256-293. For a symposium on state constitutional convention referendums, see Snider, J.H., et al., The Politics of State Constitutional Reform, American Political Science Association Law & Courts Section, Fall 2016.
iSolon.org is a project of J.H. Snider, who founded it in 2007. In the interim, Snider has been a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics (2011-13) and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy (2008). He came to Washington, DC as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow in Communications & Public Policy (1999-2000). He then served as a fellow and research director at the New America Foundation (2001-2007). From 1994-1999 he served as a teaching assistant and fellow in Northwestern University’s Department of Political Science. He has a Ph.D. in American Government from Northwestern University, an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School (with a focus on non-profit management), and an undergraduate degree in Social Studies from Harvard College.
Snider edits The State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse and state-specific clearinghouses for states with upcoming periodic referendums, including The Hawaiʻi State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse (2018), The New York State Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse (2017) and Rhode Island Constitutional Convention Clearinghouse (2014). The latter provides the most detailed record of published pro & con arguments ever compiled in one place and published online. For his discussion of the 240-year history of state constitutional convention politics, see Does the World Really Belong to the Living? The Decline of the Constitutional Convention in New York and Other US States, 1776–2015, Journal of American Political Thought 6, no. 2 (Spring 2017).. For his compendium of TV documentaries and pro & con TV ads, see A Political Primer on the Periodic State Constitutional Convention Referendum, a short course presented at the 2016 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, Philadelphia, PA, August 31, 2016. Snider has also published more than two dozen op-eds on state constitutional convention referendums.