New Democracy Maps

Ballot Initiatives

The initiative process is a tool through which citizens can propose statutes or constitutional amendments to be put on the ballot in their state. Often referred to generally as ballot measures, the initiative process can be direct or indirect depending on the state. Direct citizen initiatives are put onto the ballot without involvement from the state legislature if they meet certain qualifications, usually related to signature gathering and subject matter, as well as various deadlines. The resources on this page focus on the impact of ballot initiatives on elections and voting in the states. 

Related Resources


Democracy Map: Direct Citizen Initiative States

This map tracks states that have direct citizen initiative processe, through which citizens can propose statutes or constitutional amendments to be put on the ballot in their state.


Under Fire: Erecting Systemic and Structural Barriers to Make Change Harder

June 2023 - The third report in this series details how fast, furious political attacks on LGBTQ people are connected to ongoing attacks on voting rights and democracy overall, which have also increased in recent years.


Midterm Election 2022: How Direct Democracy Impacted Voting and Election Rules

November 2022 - This analysis explains how, along with shifting control of state governments across the country, the results of the 2022 midterms will play a significant role in shaping democracy as we head into the next election in 2024.

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Sexual Orientation Policy Tally

The term “sexual orientation” is loosely defined as a person’s pattern of romantic or sexual attraction to people of the opposite sex or gender, the same sex or gender, or more than one sex or gender. Laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation primarily protect or harm lesbian, gay, and bisexual people. That said, transgender people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual can be affected by laws that explicitly mention sexual orientation.

Gender Identity Policy Tally

“Gender identity” is a person’s deeply-felt inner sense of being male, female, or something else or in-between. “Gender expression” refers to a person’s characteristics and behaviors such as appearance, dress, mannerisms and speech patterns that can be described as masculine, feminine, or something else. Gender identity and expression are independent of sexual orientation, and transgender people may identify as heterosexual, lesbian, gay or bisexual. Laws that explicitly mention “gender identity” or “gender identity and expression” primarily protect or harm transgender people. These laws also can apply to people who are not transgender, but whose sense of gender or manner of dress does not adhere to gender stereotypes.

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