Initiative and Referendum

Initiative and Referendum


How each state conducts the initiative process varies. NCSL has details on signature requirements, subject restrictions and title drafting. Start with The Initiative Process 101.




blurry photo, with the word "vote"Recall is a procedure that allows citizens to remove and replace a public official before the end of a term of office. Some states permit recalls, others don't. Requirements for signatures, and procedures for how to replace the recalled office holder vary. 




map of the U.S.24 states allow initiatives or referendum on statewide issues. The details for these states varies in terms of the writing of the ballot title and summary, the number of signatures needed, and what types of measures can be put on the ballot: direct citizen initiatives, indirect initiatives or referendum.




database NCSL maintains two databases that relate to Initiatives and Referendum. The first includes legislation from 2014 to the present that impacts the I & R process. The second includes legislation from 1993 - 2013 that impacts the I & R process. The third captures all statewide ballot measures over the years.




24 states permit citizen initiatives, and all states permit citizens to vote on ballot measures in one form or another, through the mechanism of popular referenda and legislative referenda. The overall trend in recent years has been toward an increased number of initiatives and referenda to appear on ballots, all affecting state policies and budgets.  NCSL maintains data on the specifics of the process in all 24 states that permit citizen initiatives, a database of measures that have appeared on the ballot, and a database of I & R legislation.  A comprehensive overview of the recall process is also available.



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