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Who We Are

The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC) is a nationwide movement-building infrastructure organization that leverages ballot measures across the United States to strengthen democracy; center people of color, queer, low-income, immigrant, Indigenous, and other marginalized communities; advance racial equity; build and transform power; and galvanize a new progressive base.

We are the only progressive organization that works across many policy, organizing, and political organizations, with local, state, and national leaders, to support the progressive ecosystem and develop ways to engage people in democracy across the 360 ballot measure lifecycle.

Over the past 25 years, BISC has grown to become a critical part of the progressive infrastructure that supports creating equitable, winning campaigns, advances progressive issues, and builds lasting people-centered, state-based power. 

What We Do

BISC ensures that state and national advocates have the tools and skills they need to harness the power of ballot measures as a tool for liberation and make transformational changes for their communities. Our work does not start or stop with any single election. We support campaigns through every campaign phase – which we call the 360 Lifecycle. The five phases include: incubation, decision-making, qualification, campaign, and implementation.

This 360 Lifecycle approach builds more equitable and winning efforts, creates transformational change, and builds community infrastructure that lasts over and beyond any one ballot measure win or loss. We know we must use every phase of the 360 lifecycle to build capacity, bring people together around a common goal, center those most impacted, and shift the culture of how we do things. It’s how we win that helps us to build power. 

We believe we must also move beyond only defining success at the ballot by 50% + 1 of the vote. BISC’s Declaration of Equity and Accountability (DoE) helps state leaders build a new way of working together – one that moves away from the traditional “win at all costs” mentality and into one where equity and sustainability are centered.

Learn more about BISC’s 360 Lifecycle Approach

Learn more about BISC’s Declaration of Equity & Accountability

How We Do It

BISC works to directly assist partners and coalition leaders in the states in a variety of ways at all phases of the ballot measure campaign process. 

We track, year-round, the extensive ballot measure landscape to help understand and anticipate trends, and analyze the data to help develop strategies to win. We also track and respond to attacks on the ballot measure process at the state legislative level and legal challenges. 

We build the capacity of leaders, coalitions, and organizations through training, learning communities, co-creating research, developing tools and resources, and providing technical and strategic assistance. We build alignment within and across states and help state leaders think strategically and long-term about ballot measure work. 

BISC also plays a leadership role in identifying and filling gaps in overall ballot strategy to ensure that leaders have the support they need to protect the ballot measure process and execute successful ballot measure campaigns that build power in states. In this role, we deepen alignment within and across the field and also with funders to transform planning and practice—to pass progressive and equitable policies – shift the national narrative, and build independent political power in the states.

BISC’s Stance on Racial Equity

At the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, we work to transform our country into one that is equitable and just. In our work, we strive to challenge structural racism, and center the people most impacted.

BISC works with commitment to racial equity inside our organization in our operations and management processes, and externally through our research, training, and organizing work with ballot-measure campaigns, partners, and funders.