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Our Founders' Warning: “Every government degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people themselves are its only safe depositories.” (Thomas Jefferson)

What is a Direct Initiative and an Indirect Initiative?

Direct Initiative and an Indirect Initiative

In political science, the Direct Initiative and the Indirect Initiative (also known as popular or citizen’s initiative) provides a means by which… voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance. It is a form of direct democracyThe initiative may take the form of either the direct or indirect initiative. Under the direct initiative, a measure is put directly to a vote after being submitted…. Under the indirect initiative, a measure is first referred to the legislature, and then only put to a popular vote if not enacted by the legislature. In United States usage, a popular vote on a specific measure is referred to as a referendum only when originating with the legislature. Such a vote is known, when originating in the initiative process, as an “initiative,” “ballot measure” or “proposition.”

The initiative is only available in a certain minority of jurisdictions. It has long been widely used in Switzerland, both at federal and cantonal level.

In the United States, a popular vote on a measure is referred to as a referendum only when originating with the legislature. An initiative may be called a ballot measure“. “initiative measure”, or “proposition”…

The United States has no initiative process at the national level, but the initiative is in use at the level of state government in 24 states and the District of Columbia,… and is also in common use at the local government level.

Article I, Section I of the United States Constitution vests “all legislative powers herein granted” to the Congress of the United States.” Establishing a national initiative procedure would likely require an amendment to the Constitution, which would under Article V require two-thirds of both houses of Congress or the application of two-thirds of the state legislatures to propose, and three-fourths of all state legislatures (or conventions in three-fourths of the states) to ratify. The Constitution itself was not ratified by referendum, but pursuant to Article VII was instead ratified by state conventions elected by the people.

Several proposals have been made to institute a national referendum. The Ludlow Amendment, introduced several times to the House of Representatives by Louis Ludlow of Indiana between 1935 and 1940 during an era of heightened isolationist tendencies, proposed an amendment to the Constitution that would require a national referendum to declare war, except in the case of invasion and attack. The amendment came closest to overcoming a discharge petition on January 10, 1938, when it was defeated in the House by a vote of 209 to 188, far short of the two-thirds vote required. (Courtesy © Wikipedia)