Initiatives and Referenda
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Initiatives and Referenda book
Initiatives and referenda are mechanisms that allow voters to decide governmental policies directly rather than to depend solely on their elected state and local officials to act. Most referenda are not initiated by voters, and most occur at the local level of government rather than statewide. The initiative generally allows voters to petition to place issues on the ballot. Through the statutory initiative, voters in twenty-one states may propose legislation; with the constitutional initiative, voters in seventeen states may propose state constitutional amendments. Both types are created through a petition of registered voters. Historically, referenda and initiatives have existed in some form in the United States since the 1600s. Initiatives also have generated many supporters and detractors. Although fraught with advantages and disadvantages, initiatives and referendums will continue as part of an effort to provide for more citizen involvement in public policy-making.