The initiative process allows citizens to propose a new statute or constitution amendment through a petition process either to the legislature or directly to the voters.

Direct Initiative

Proposals that qualify go directly on the ballot.

The following states allow direct statute initiatives:

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, and Washington.

The following states allow direct constitution initiatives:

Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, and South Dakota.

Indirect Initiative

Proposals are submitted to the legislature, which has an opportunity to act on the proposed legislation.  The initiative question will subsequently go on the ballot if the legislature rejects it, submits a different proposal or takes no action.

The following states allow indirect statute initiatives:

*Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, Washington and *Wyoming.

* Alaska and Wyoming’s initiative processes are usually considered indirect.  However, instead of requiring that an initiative be submitted to the legislature for action, they only require that an initiative cannot be placed on the ballot until after a legislative session has convened and adjourned.

The following states allow indirect constitution initiatives:

Massachusetts and Mississippi.


The referendum process allows voters to petition to demand a popular vote on a law passed by the legislature to decide whether to uphold or repeal the law.

The following states allow statute referendums:

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.