Fast Facts

  • California has had initiatives since 1911, when it became the tenth state to adapt it. According to Ballotpedia, “Through November 2014, 364 initiatives have qualified for the statewide California ballot. Voters have approved 123, an approval rate of 34 percent. From 1911 through November 2014, the California Constitution has been amended 52 times through the state’s initiative process.”
  • Members of the New York legislature, both Democrats and Republicans, have submitted constitutional amendments to enable initiatives and referendums. For instance, The New York Initiative and Referendum Amendment passed the Senate 47-15 in 2011 but died in the Assembly.  More recently, bill A04091 has been submitted to the Assembly in 2016.  But this issue has never been one of the Governor’s priorities and has not made it out of the Assembly.
  • “As we stare down a politically uncertain four years, we will need ballot measures more than ever to pass policy that especially supports people of color, immigrants, women, LGBTQ people and working families, who are not likely to get many policy considerations from the Trump administration.” — Justine Sarver, Executive Director, Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, Washington, D.C.
  • “The state Constitution provides a way for people to bypass the ruling party and write their own laws. It’s called the citizens’ initiative process. It’s our right under the state Constitution and it is a powerful tool.  Over the years, it’s been used to do things the majority of Arizonans wanted but weren’t getting from the Legislature.  These things include a dedicated fund for early childhood programs, a ban on payday loans and expanded health care for poor….” – Linda Chevez, The Arizona Republic, March 31, 2017.
  • “Over the past 25 years, states with the ballot initiative process have had higher voter participation than states without the process.  On average, each statewide initiative on the ballot increased a state’s turnout by almost 1% in presidential elections and almost 2% in midterm elections…” –Kristina Wilfore, “The Impact of the Ballot Initiative Process in America,” Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.