Kitchen Table Economics

What Is A Ballot Measure?

As you head into the voting booth on election day, not all of your decisions will be about candidates for political office. Some sections will ask your opinion on taxes, proposed regulations, or even whether or not to build a new school. These are called ballot measures. But how they actually work?

According to Ballotpedia, a ballot measure is a law, issue, or question that appears on a statewide or local ballot for voters of that jurisdiction to decide. From 2010 to 2020, 164 statewide ballot measures appeared on ballots.

There are two main ways a ballot measure can be introduced.

  • A citizen-initiated ballot measure includes a law or constitutional amendment introduced by citizens through a petition process either to the legislature or directly to voters. The amount of petitioners needed to adopt the ballot measure varies in each state.
  • The process for a legislative referral ballot measure starts with a proposal in the state legislature. The proposal must receive the required margin of votes in the state legislature (which varies by state) to appear before voters for final approval. These measures can amend a state’s constitution, change a statute, propose a bond issue, propose a tax, or amend local ordinances.

Want to see if you’ll have any ballot measures to weigh in on when you go into the voting booth? A list of certified ballot measures for 2022 can be found here.