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66 U. Colo. L. Rev. 13 (1994-1995)
Let the Voters Decide - An Assessment of the Initiative and Referendum Process

handle is hein.journals/ucollr66 and id is 23 raw text is: LET THE VOTERS DECIDE?
AN ASSESSMENT OF THE INITIATIVE
AND REFERENDUM PROCESS
DAVID B. MAGLEBY*
The initiative and popular referendum permit citizens to
set the political agenda by placing statutes and constitutional
amendments on the ballot, and by vetoing actions taken by
legislative bodies at the state and local levels. Using the
initiative, voters may write statutes, and in some states
constitutional amendments, which will go to the ballot if
sufficient valid petition signatures are gathered. Initiative
sponsors in states that provide both the constitutional and
statutory initiative will often submit their measure as a
constitutional initiative because of its more secure legal
standing,' a trend that is growing in at least one state.2
Constitutional initiatives can typically be changed only by a
subsequent vote of the people, although statutory initiatives in
most states may be amended by the legislature.' Initiatives
that meet the signature requirement go either directly to the
voters (the direct initiative) or are placed on the state legisla-
ture's agenda (the indirect initiative), where, if the legislature
does not enact the initiative within a specified time, the
proponents have the option to gather additional signatures and
place the measure on the ballot. Five states permit both the
* Professor of Political Science and Department Chair, Brigham Young
University. Research funding for this article was provided by the College of
Family, Home and Social Sciences research committee. Research assistance was
provided by David Barlow, Scott Baxter, Steven Davis, Ariane Holtkamp, and
Quin Monson. Don Norton read and provided helpful comments. In the article I
rely heavily on research I have published or presented elsewhere, which is cited
throughout the article.
1. DAVID B. MAGLEBY, DIRECT LEGISLATION: VOTING ON BALLOT PROPOSI-
TIONS IN THE UNITED STATES 72 (1984). However, because of that greater legal
significance, voters are less likely to approve constitutional amendments. Id.
2. See Eugene C. Lee, Representative Government and the Initiative Process,
in 6 CALIFORNIA POLICY CHOICES 228 (John Kirlin & Donald Winkler eds., 1990)
(discussing the growing trend in California).
3. Only five states do not allow the legislature to amend or repeal statutory
initiatives. See PHILIP L. DuBOIS & FLOYD F. FEENEY, IMPROVING THE CALIFORNIA
INITIATIVE PROCESS: OPTIONS FOR CHANGE 70 (1992).

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