Majority Rules: The Battle for Ballot Initiatives

Submitted by ajherre9 on Mon, 12/05/2022 - 17:33
pile of "I voted" stickers


The Ballot Initiatives Project explores the current fight over voters’ access to the ballot initiative process. In recent years, labor unions, rights advocacy groups, and grassroots organizations in multiple states have used citizen initiatives to pass policies that redistribute wealth, rights, and decision-making power to working people and marginalized communities—policies that are often treated as unrealistic or impracticable in partisan politics. Initiative votes have passed increased wage floors, Medicaid expansion, abortion rights, public school funding, checks on predatory debt-collection, and more, creating significant material gains for millions of people in red, blue, and purples states alike. Initiative wins, often by large margins, frequently rebuke politicians in these same states, demonstrating that there is far more popular agreement on policy than escalating partisan polarization would indicate. Now the initiative process is coming under attack from corporate interests and state legislators who stand to lose power to the popular vote. The fight over ballot initiatives is one of the most consequential voting rights struggles of our time, with deep implications for the future of the United States political system. 

Relevant works

Case, B. (2022, August 13). Initiative Campaigns Bridge Partisan Divides. Convergence.

Case, B. (2023, August 11). Ohio’s Antidemocratic Abortion Referendum Failed, but More Like It Are Coming. Jacobin

Case, B., & McQuarrie, M. (2022, November 2). Ballot initiatives reveal a battle between voters and legislators. London School of Economics | USAPP.

Case, B., & McQuarrie, M. (2022, November 17). The Left Won Big on Ballot Initiatives. That’s Why They’re Under Attack. Jacobin. 

Fong, B. & Case, B. (2022, November 26). Taxing the Rich Requires More Than Policy. Common Dreams

McQuarrie, M., & Case, B. (2022, October 28). Ballot Initiatives Are the Hidden Voting Rights Issue in This Election Cycle. Jacobin. 

McQuarrie, M., & Case, B. (2022, November 2). Silencing the majority: Citizen initiatives are under attack in Arizona. AZ Mirror. 

 Project by

 Research team

Benjamin S. Case
Jorge Hernandez
Muriel Payraudeau
Maria Esch