For the past two decades, BISC has worked to increase civic participation and create a social and economic reality that allows our families to thrive. Take a look at our journey.

BISC Timeline

1998
1998

BISC’s Beginnings

The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center is founded as a project of People for the American Way with the goal of creating a national, progressive ballot measure strategy.

1998

The BISC Foundation Launches

BISC launches The BISC Foundation as a 501 (c)(3) organization with the goal of tracking the money behind ballot initiatives.

1999
1999

BISC’s First Big Win

BISC plays a key role in defeating an anti-choice initiative in Maine, showing its potential to impact ballot measure campaigns.

2004
2004

The Start of a Strategy

The fight to defeat measures against marriage equality reinforces the need for a national ballot measure strategy and provides the playbook for the 2006 minimum wage fight.

2005
2005

Beating Back TABOR

In more than two dozen states, BISC and its partners work to prevent TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) initiatives from reaching the 2006 ballot by challenging instances of signature fraud. Ultimately, TABOR only ends up on the ballot in three states.

2006
2006

BISC Plays Offense and Defense

BISC plays offense and defense by working with campaigns to raise the minimum wage in six states and defeating the three TABOR measures on the ballot.

2007
2007

The First Road Ahead Conference

After the successful 2006 cycle, BISC holds its first-ever Road Ahead Conference in Phoenix, Arizona to debrief and look forward to the future.

2007

The Big, Bad Ballot Initiative Book

BISC publishes The Big, Bad Ballot Initiative book, the first-ever manual for running progressive ballot measure campaigns.

2008
2008

Upholding Affirmative Action

BISC leads the progressive strategy to fight businessman Ward Connerly’s anti-affirmative action ballot measures in five states. BISC and its partners were able to keep the measures off the ballot in three states and run a campaign that led to its defeat in another.

2008

A Unified Labor Strategy

BISC brings together partners from across the labor community to create a unified strategy for ballot measures by forming the first ballot measure labor table.

2009
2009

Most Valuable Think Tank

BISC is named “Most Valuable Think Tank” by The Nation.

2011
2011

A Proactive, Progressive Strategy

Despite a few key wins on minimum wage, the progressive community has been playing defense on conservative ballot measures for over three decades. In 2011, BISC begins meeting with progressive community leaders to discuss and plan a strategic shift towards a proactive, progressive ballot measure strategy. Later, the group tasked with driving the strategy would be named Victory 2020.

2012
2012

The Proactive Strategy Pays Off

Ballot measures become an increasingly potent tool to pass progressive policies. There were major marijuana decriminalization and marriage equality victories this year, and the DREAM Act legislation was affirmed by voters in Maryland.

2013
2013

Training Ballot Measure Leaders

BISC and Wellstone Action team up to launch the progressive community’s first and only training program that focuses exclusively on ballot measures.

2014
2014

Progressive Wins in Red States

BISC led partners to big wins on minimum wage, women’s health and voting rights. So-called, “progressive” ballot measures do well in red states, reinforcing the idea that ballot measures can be a powerful check on conservative state governments.

2016
2016

Roadmap to 2020

BISC officially launches the Roadmap to 2020 strategy in eleven states. This proactive ballot measure strategy seeks to pass economy and democracy-focused initiatives.

2016

A Bright Spot in 2016

Ballot measure victories become one of the few bright spots in a difficult election year. BISC’s partners pass minimum wage increases in four states, enact earned sick leave policies in two, and pass revenue measures in two more.

2017
2017

Protecting Direct Democracy

Conservative groups mount a coordinated attack on direct democracy in more than a dozen states. BISC strikes back by working with partners in states from Maine to Arizona to help them preserve ballot measure process in their states.

2017

A New Way to Understand Voters

BISC launches an innovative research platform that tracks changing voter opinion in real time, giving campaigns in eleven states new insight into shifting voter opinions.

2018
2018

BISC Celebrates 20 Years

BISC’s 20th anniversary year promises to be one of its biggest to date. A few things on tap: new research into how measures on the same ballot impact each other, and a ballot measure landscape chock full of economy and democracy-related measures.