The NCSL Blog


By Amanda Zoch

In the 2018 general election, voters weighed in on more than 150 ballot measures across 36 states.

Over one-third of those ballot measures were citizen initiatives—which is when citizens have an idea for a statutory or constitutional change and gather signatures to place it on the ballot.

Citizens often use this process to address hot-button issues such as abortion, immigration and gun control, and the initiative will likely remain a popular tool for citizens seeking secondary methods to enact legislation in 2020.

So, if you live in—and especially if you legislate in—one of the 24 states that allows citizens to propose laws through initiatives or repeal laws through referenda, 2020 will probably find you wondering about the various guidelines and guardrails for this process.

To help better understand, navigate and legislate the initiative and referendum process, NCSL has gathered each state’s information in an exciting new tool: the Initiative and Referendum Process interactive webpage.

This page takes the complex initiative and referendum process and transforms that information into a highly functional resource, comprehensive in both breadth (all 24 states) and depth (the entire process, from drafting to implementation).

With this level of functionality, users have the ability to view multiple pieces of information at once and to easily toggle between different states, enabling swift comparisons. We provide statutory citations, too, should you wish to pursue deeper investigation of a state’s laws.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Amanda Zoch is an NCSL legislative policy specialist and Mellon/ACLS Public Fellow.

Email Amanda

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.