What are ballot initiatives?


Citizen-led ballot initiatives and referenda, often called "direct democracy" got its start in several states during the Progressive Era. This was a period of social activism and political reform in the U.S. that flourished from the 1890s to the 1920s. The era was marked by reforms aimed at breaking concentrated monopoly power of certain corporations and trusts. Many Progressives felt that state legislatures were part of this problem, and in the pocket of the wealthy. They sought a method to solve the problem in which average persons could become directly involved in the political process. One thing they came up with was the initiative (creating or amending laws) and referendum (repealing a law already enacted.) Between 1904 and 2007, some 2,231 statewide ballot proposals initiated by citizens were held in the US. Of these, 909 have been approved. (Source: Ballotpedia.org)