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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. This direct form of legislation, together with the referendumreferendum,
referral of proposed laws or constitutional amendments to the electorate for final approval. This direct form of legislation, along with the initiative, was known in Greece and other early democracies.
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, was known in Greece and other early democracies. It is practiced in Switzerland. In the United States the initiative was recognized as early as 1777 in the first constitution of Georgia. It was subsequently adopted by a number of states and may apply also on local and city government levels. There are two kinds of initiative, direct and indirect. In both kinds of initiative a certain number of signatures (usually from 5% to 15% of the electorate in the district concerned) must appear on the petition that proposes the constitutional amendment or legislation. In direct initiative the proposed law is voted on in the next election, or in a special election, after a petition with the required number of signatures has been filed with state or local officials. In indirect initiative the petition goes directly to the legislature and reaches the people only if the legislature fails to enact it into law. In the 1990s ballot initiatives became increasingly popular as various interest groups sought to win approval of measures they supported.


See P. Schrag, Paradise Lost (1999).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2013, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.


a. the right or power to introduce legislation, etc., in a legislative body
b. the procedure by which citizens originate legislation, as in many American states and Switzerland
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Twelve states have hiked their minimum wages via ballot initiatives in recent years, a focused push that election experts say hasn't been seen since social conservatives used ballot initiatives aggressively in the early 2000s to define marriage as between a man and woman.
In addition, ballot initiatives passed that will further expand registration and voting opportunities, including automatic voter registration in Nevada and same-day registration in Maryland.
In North Dakota, lobbyists could be blocked from giving gifts to public officials, and in South Dakota, voters might ban out-of-state funding of ballot initiatives.
Doug Ducey said Monday that Invest in Education Act supporters who blame him for the downfall of the ballot initiative need schooling on how government works.
States enacting minimum wage increases through ballot initiatives tend to have shorter lags between the passage of the initiative and the first increase in the minimum wage.
The law that was passed in June was close enough to the ballot initiative so Mactaggart agreed to withdraw it.
"It's not surprising that people are turning to the ballot to address gun safety," said Donna De La Cruz, a spokesperson at the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center , a progressive group that focuses on ballot measure campaigns.
Montana: Aims to expand medical marijuana access after a previous ballot initiative was limited by the state legislature.
"The pre-election review process (for ballot initiatives) is comprehensively laid out in state statute," she said.
For example, $6.4 million in ads funded by Coloradans for Better Schools is backed by the Rhode Island-based Twin Rivers Casino in favor of a ballot initiative that would expand gambling to horse tracks.
South Dakota voters' decision on an "any willing provider" ballot initiative is among a number of health care-related ballot initiatives that will be voted on in the upcoming midterm elections.
What we saw with medical marijuana is that the ballot initiatives came first.