Voters can be sophisticated. In 2018, a majority of the voters in Florida voted for a conservative governor, but they also voted to give prisoners the right to vote, something the Republican Governor had opposed. The voters showed that they were able to distinguish measures from men. Politics is not just about tribal partisanship. Voters demand more choice. And they are able to exercise their judgement. Florida is not unique. This is a global trend. A large majority of voters all over the world – according to opinion polls – want more referendums. But are they capable of making decisions on complex issues? And aren’t such votes an invitation to ill-considered populism? This book answers these questions and shows what the effect of referendums have on public policy, on welfare and well-being, and outlines how some of the criticisms of referendums and initiatives can be remedied.
I visited, told me they liked those Monday evenings and my ‘greetings’
and ‘goodnights’. It cost me very much more than $100,000 a year when
a letter came to me in 1944, telling me that I could no longer conduct the Lux
Radio Theatre. 2
What happened was that in 1944 the American Federation of Radio
Artists (AFRA) decided to fight Proposition 12 which was due to appear on the
Californian Election Ballot. Proposition 12 allowed every
A people having sovereign
power should do for itself all it can do well, and what it
cannot do well, it must do through its representatives.
L’Esprit des Lois 1
Referendums and ballotpropositions can be good for
in the last election for statutes, and 8 percent for constitutional amendments). So instead of the process being open to everyone, it is open mostly to those organized interests that can pay the entrance fee. 33
The commercialization also led to a spamming effect , due to the overload of ballotpropositions. In 2016 another analyst called the California ballot for this reason “an epic joke.” 34 “I’m talking about the California November voter guide,” he wrote, “which this year clocks in at 224 pages, thanks to 17 statewide ballotpropositions – the longest
(accessed 6 May 2011).
Butler and Kitzinger, The 1975 Referendum.
Elizabeth Gerber (1999) The Populist Paradox: Interest Group Influence and the
Promise of Direct Democracy, Princeton, Princeton University Press, p. 110.
D. Lowenstein (1982) ‘Campaign Spending and BallotPropositions: Recent
Experience, Public Choice Theory and the First Amendment’, UCLA Law
Review, Vol. 29, 505.
The defeat of the ‘yes’ campaign was in large measure the result of
a failure to use
) ‘Constitutional Regulation of Legislative
Choice: The Political Consequences of Judicial Deference to Legislatures’,
Virginia Law Review, Vol. 74, 74.
Eule, ‘Judicial Review of Direct Democracy’, 1545.
The refutation of Pak’s case for a stricter judicial review of ballotpropositions does not, of course, render judicial review impermissible. It is the
duty of the courts ‘to declare all acts contrary to the manifest tenor of
the Constitution void’.38
But there is nothing inherent in initiatives which justifies that they
Researchers also found that citizens were more knowledgeable,
interested and engaged in politics when there are propositions on
the ballot 41 . An
analysis of the 2006 midterm elections found higher turnout in
states where voters had the opportunity to vote for
citizen-initiated ballotpropositions. Average turnout for the 18
states with initiatives was 45.1 per cent while the 32