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What We Do

Track the Ballot Measure Landscape

The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center is the progressive movement’s central repository for up-to-date, accurate information regarding the use of direct democracy across the country. We track and analyze ballot measures across the 26 states and District of Columbia that allow some form of direct democracy and provide intelligence to movement allies around every aspect of the work. The latest landscape information can always be found on BISC’s Ballot Measure Hub.

BISC analyzes hundreds of initiatives and referenda and tracks them throughout their process. Whether it’s the financial impact that a measure could have on a state, whether a measure’s title and summary language has been approved and a measure has been cleared to circulate, how likely a measure is to qualify for the ballot, or how viable a measure may be based on polling and other factors, BISC provides progressives valuable, detailed, and nuanced information and context of the ballot measure landscape.

BISC also serves as an important line of defense against legislative efforts to harm the ballot measure process. Through our Defend Direct Democracy Campaign, BISC tracks and responds to these attacks, working with allies nationally and in states to protect the initiative process and ensure that legislatures are unable to overturn the will of the people after a measure passes.

Provide Assistance to Ballot Measure Campaigns

BISC is the “go-to” organization for ballot measure advocates around the country who need strategic advice and assistance on how to run and win inclusive and equitable ballot measure campaigns.

We work with state leaders and national partners to provide expert guidance on ballot measure policy development, coalition-building and governance, research, signature gathering, campaign planning and execution, implementation and more.

We do this by working one-on-one with ballot measure advocates; bringing ballot measure leaders from across the country together in peer-to-peer learning cohorts to share information, best practices, and solve challenges. 

We also provide a variety of tools, templates, and resources so that campaigns have what they need to run successful campaigns that win at the ballot and build long-term power with communities that are directly impacted.

Learn more about BISC’s 360 Lifecycle Approach

Learn more about BISC’s Declaration of Equity & Accountability

Protect the Ballot Initiative Process

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.

In response to these attacks on direct democracy, BISC launched the Defend Direct Democracy campaign in 2021. You can learn more about our campaign here.

Train Ballot Measure Activists Across the Country

BISC’s training opportunities equip people with essential ballot-measure campaign skills, best practices, and the lessons we’ve learned from 25 years of organizational experience.

Each offering features specific Race, Equity, and Power choices and trains leaders who can run winning, transformational campaigns that leave leadership and infrastructure in states long after Election Day.

BISC’s Ballot Measure Leader Training Program has trained thousands of program participants with the fundamentals to elevate their leadership through every phase of a ballot measure campaign. With a focus on new and emerging leaders, this first-of-its kind training prepares people to run winning, transformational campaigns that leave leadership and infrastructure behind long after Election Day.

You  can learn more about our ballot measure training program (and sign up!) on our training website.

Design and Provide Groundbreaking Research

BISC works with our partners and researchers around the country to develop critical and innovative research that informs the ballot measure field. Using a variety of research methodologies we provide a critical understanding of voter attitudes and opinions, concerns, and priorities around key issues and ballot measure concepts.

Our research seeks to provide advocates the information they need to develop and pursue just and equitable policies that improve the lives of traditionally disenfranchised people and to strengthen the ability of advocates in the state to organize and communicate through inclusive coalitions and campaigns.

Our research is guided by three strategic imperatives:

  • We incorporate the impact of real-time events, messaging, and communications people may have received, and the current issue environment— into our research.
  • We ensure our research captures the whole landscape and issue environment and the type of data that we are collecting is varied.
  • We work to understand what is important to people of color, immigrant, and refugee communities. Our research asks these communities about the issues and policies that engage, motivate, and positively impact them in order to inform our long-term planning and the ballot measure polices that are put forward.

Convene and Facilitate Collaboration Among Partners

BISC brings activists and organizations together into collaborative spaces to co-create strategy. With a focus on fostering broad and inclusive coalitions that center the voices of impacted communities, BISC works to convene and connect progressive partners across the country. Our partners range from large national foundations to small, community-led organizations deeply rooted in states from Arizona to Maine.

We convene both long-term coalition work as well as short-term cohorts on issues like democracy, economy, and reproductive freedom to better connect partners across states working on ballot measure campaigns that address a broad spectrum of critical issues. 

BISC is also able to facilitate collaboration within states and make sure that resources are being used effectively, research is being done collaboratively, and that the progressive community is pursuing a shared strategy.We also host our annual Road Ahead conference – BISC’s signature annual event – which features state-based advocates, ballot measure experts, inspiring movement leaders, funding partners, and so much more — all focused on how ballot measures can build power and make change happen in our communities.

Direct Democracy Across the Country

Initiated Statutes and Amendments

Initiated Amendments Only

Initiated Statutes Only