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Initiatives And Referendums

The voting results on important questions of public policy are commonly known as referendums or propositions. These results decide whether a policy becomes law or whether a state constitution will be revised or amended. An initiative is the bringing about of legislative or constitutional changes through the filing of formal petitions. If an initiative is supported by a certain percentage of the population, it may be included on an election ballot for public approval. Referendums and initiatives allow for the development of legislation independent of formal legislative processes. Not all state constitutions provide for referendums and initiatives.

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Buckley v. American Constitutional Law Foundation, Inc., 525 U.S. 182, 119 S. Ct. 636, 142 L. Ed. 2d 599 (1999), considered the constitutionality of a series of controls on the petition process for placing initiatives on the ballot in the state of Colorado. The controls included requirements that the individuals who circulated petitions were registered voters and that those who circulated petitions wear badges indicating whether they were volunteers or paid employees (and, if they were paid employees, the names and telephone numbers of their employers). Although states may place certain limitations on these ballots and initiatives, the Court held that the particular limitations in Colorado violated the First Amendment associational rights of the petitioners.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Doom to EmbargoElections - Administration Of Government Elections, Primaries And Conventions, Initiatives And Referendums, Campaigns, Criminal Aspects