Ballot initiatives

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Ballot initiatives for voters to directly pass laws, usually based on which side of the issue spends more, is allowed in about half the states based on their state constitutions. Ending the harm repeatedly caused by this form of direct democracy requires amending their constitutions.

Some states have increased the threshold for enacting a ballot initiative: 66% in New Hampshire, 60% in Florida, and 55% in Colorado. In 1998 in Utah, the threshold for ballot initiatives concerning the wildlife was increased to 66%.[1] The Utah supermajority requirement was upheld by the Tenth Circuit en banc in Initiative & Referendum Inst. v. Walker, 450 F.3d 1082 (10th Cir. 2006) (McConnell, J.).

See also Ohio Issue 1. "Of the 50 states, only 17 allow citizens to spearhead constitutional amendments. Ohio is one of those 17."[2]


The Michigan Constitution is on the general election ballot for general revision every 16 years, and the next occurrence will be in November 2022.[3]

The process of ballot initiatives in Michigan is explained by its legislature as follows:[4]

An issue can become a statewide ballot proposal as a result of any of the following actions:

•  A citizen petition invoking the initiative relative to Michigan’s statutes.
•  A citizen petition invoking the referendum relative to Michigan’s statutes.
•  A citizen petition seeking to amend Michigan’s constitution.
•  Legislation enacted by the legislature including a provision that says the legislation cannot become law unless approved by a majority of voters.
•  A measure adopted by the legislature seeking to amend the constitution.
•  A constitutionally mandated provision placing on the ballot automatically each sixteenth year the question of a general revision of the constitution. This question was on the ballot in 1978 and 1994.

With the exception of the constitutionally mandated provision that automatically places the question of a general revision of the constitution before the electorate every 16 years, every ballot proposal is the result of either citizen action (initiatory petitions) or legislative action.