Defend Direct Democracy: What We Mean
Direct Democracy is the will of the people.
No matter who we are or where we’re from, we all want the freedom to make decisions on important issues that impact our lives.
The citizen-initiative process, or direct democracy, allows voters to exercise that freedom by giving everyday people the power to directly propose and pass new laws by putting them up for a vote.
Direct democracy is an essential tool for passing people-centered policies at the state and local level. Further, we believe direct democracy is a critical part of building an inclusive, participatory, and thriving democracy.
It is a process that is truly by the people and for the people.
Attacks on Direct Democracy
In recent years, some politicians and their allies have worked to undermine direct democracy by introducing hundreds of bills to make it harder to propose and pass new laws through citizen initiatives.
These efforts have been increasing since the 2016 election in response to progressive wins and people-powered democracy at the ballot box. In many states, some politicians and wealthy special interests are trying to make it harder for voters to propose and pass ballot initiatives under the cover of so-called “reforms.” During the 2021 legislative session, BISC monitored 146 bills intended to change the ballot measure process.
Make no mistake — these attempts to rewrite the rules are organized, well-funded, and designed to end majority rule, so extremist politicians get what they want, instead of what the people want.
That is why BISC launched our Defend Direct Democracy campaign in 2021.
What Will The Campaign Do?
BISC is leading a national, multi-year, multi-phase, coordinated strategy to #DefendDirectDemocracy.
BISC’s Defend Direct Democracy campaign is deeply rooted in the states, and our foundation is built on long-term partnerships and plans at the state and national level that also include our strategic funding partners.
As the only nationwide organization focused on using ballot measures to build and support multi-racial, multi-issue, people-powered movements, BISC is best positioned to work with our partners to lead a well-funded, coordinated, nationwide, strategic campaign to protect the People’s Tool as a critical part of the larger efforts to protect and strengthen our democracy.
How Can You Join the Movement to #DefendDirectDemocracy?
Help us spread the word and keep tabs on the campaign by using the hashtag #DefendDirectDemocracy and following @BallotStrategy on our socials: Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.
For press inquiries or to schedule an interview with a policy or legal advocacy expert, please contact [email protected]
What Our State Partners Have To Say:
“We must develop a coordinated response to protect and expand our access to ballot measures if we are to continue to make progress on important issues like education funding and living wages and benefits for hardworking Arizonans. We are thrilled to be partnering with BISC who is leading the charge to defend direct democracy.”
- Emily Kirkland, Former Executive Director, Progress Arizona
“In the past two election cycles, voters have made progress for the people of Missouri by raising the minimum wage and expanding access to healthcare. The initiative process is a tool for Missourians to make real and immediate improvement in our lives, and we are proud to partner with BISC to protect our 100-year-old constitutional right to ballot measures.”
- Richard Von Glahn, Organizing Director, Missouri Jobs with Justice
In the News: BISC’s Ballot Measure Work
- GOP escalates fight against citizen-led ballot initiatives, Associated Press
- Why Republican Voters Support Ballot Initiatives Their Red States Do Not, FiveThirtyEight
- How South Dakota Voters Won a Power Struggle With G.O.P. Legislators, The New York Times
- This is how far Republicans will go to subvert the will of the voters, The Washington Post
- “A Systematic Assault”: GOP Rushes to Change Election Rules to Block Medicaid in South Dakota, Bolts Magazine
- Voting rights fight moves to state ballots, Axios
- Republicans Move to Limit a Grass-Roots Tradition of Direct Democracy, New York Times
News From The States:
- Editorial Board Opinion: Our view: Missouri lawmakers should leave initiative petition process alone, Joplin Globe
- After string of abortion-rights wins, conservatives look to curtail the ballot measure process, NBC News
- Lawmakers Look To Restrict Ballot Initiative Process in Florida, Missouri and Ohio, Democracy Docket
- Mississippi lawmakers work to revive ballot initiative process, WJTV
- Missouri voters legalized weed, expanded Medicaid. GOP wants to block more ballot measures, Kansas City Star