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referral of proposed laws or constitutional amendments to the electorate for final approval. This direct form of legislation, along with the initiativeinitiative,
the originating of a law or constitutional amendment by popular petition. It is intended to allow the electorate to initiate legislation independently of the legislature.
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, was known in Greece and other early democracies. Today, these legislative devices are widely used in certain countries, most notably Switzerland. Their use in the United States reached a peak in the early part of the 20th cent. In the United States there are two main types of referendum—mandatory and optional. The mandatory referendum may be required by state constitutions and city charters for a variety of matters. It usually applies to constitutional amendments and bond issues, which by law have to be placed before the voters for approval. The optional referendum is applied to ordinary legislation. By the usual procedure implementation of a law is postponed for a certain length of time after it has been passed by the legislature; during this time, if a petition is presented containing the requisite number of names, the proposed legislation must be put to a vote at the next election.



in constitutional law, the adoption by an electorate of a final decision on constitutional, legislative, or other questions of domestic and foreign policy. The conditions for holding a referendum and the procedure to be followed are regulated by the constitution and legislation of a country.

Depending on the subject matter, the mode of holding the referendum, and the sphere of application, the following types of referenda are distinguished: constitutional, in which a draft constitution or constitutional draft amendments are submitted for a nationwide vote; legislative, in which the subject of the referendum is a draft law; imperative; and facultative. Under an imperative referendum, the draft of the given act is subject to ratification by the entire electorate. For example, in the USA a draft amendment to the constitution must be approved in all 50 states. The initiative for holding a facultative referendum may come from the electorate, as in Italy, certain cantons of a federation, as in Switzerland, or the central authority, as in France. A referendum is one of the elements of direct democracy, but the degree of actual democratism of the referendum depends primarily on the class essence of the state where the referendum is being held. For example, in bourgeois countries with authoritarian regimes, a referendum is often used by the ruling circles as a means of imposing some reactionary law on the population.

Article 115 of the Constitution of the USSR provides for a referendum (a nationwide vote). The constitutions of Bulgaria, Hungary and the German Democratic Republic also provide for referenda.


1. submission of an issue of public importance to the direct vote of the electorate
2. a vote on such a measure
3. a poll of the members of a club, union, or other group to determine their views on some matter
4. a diplomatic official's note to his government requesting instructions
References in periodicals archive ?
California voters looking for detailed information ahead of the November 8 election can use Voter's Edge California, a comprehensive online voter guide in English and Spanish, to explore information on candidates' experience, priorities, endorsements and top donors as well as ballot measure explanations and campaign funding.
The online voter guide allows users to evaluate and compare nonpartisan information on candidates and ballot measures so they can make voting decisions with a full understanding of what their votes mean, more quickly and easily than ever before.
The survey identified 47 ballot measures on eminent domain and regulatory compensation in 15 states between 1999 and 2006.
The mayor formed the committee expressly for the purpose of promoting and supporting ballot measures and legislative efforts, and that is exactly how it has been used,'' Kaufman said.
According to press accounts, supporters of a ballot measure banning same-sex marriage are gathering signatures at churches.
Through its daily broadcasts on more than 1,400 radio stations, its network of several dozen state-based think tanks, and its monthly political magazine, the Citizen, Focus on the Family has played a large role in mobilizing voters for anti-gay ballot measures nationwide.
Another group taking an early stand on ballot measures is the Oregon Farm Bureau Federation.
Ballot Measure 20-186 will give citizens the right to vote on capital investments in excess of $250,000 and any budget line item more than $50,000 for planned maintenance.
The ballot measure was proposed by the League of Women Voter of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
two pro-gay ballot measures were passed, one granting benefits to the domestic partners of city employees and another offering survivors' benefits to the partners of police officers and fire fighters.
org provides media and the public with a one-stop, nonpartisan information resource on the five health-related ballot measures.
When you vote, the Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce asks all to consider both ballot measures carefully and remember: