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Should States Use Ballot Initiatives to Make Major Policy Decisions?

82.2% yes
17.8% no

A ballot initiative is a voter led ballot measure where proposed constitutional amendments or laws in states, are put directly to the people for a vote. For example, Ohio residents voted in November of 2023 on a ballot initiative on abortion policy in the state. Ballot initiatives have also been used this year across states on a range of issues ranging from property tax rates to marijuana legalization to new budget proposals. As many major policy questions are now determined by citizens directly voting on the matter, the question over the effectiveness of ballot initiatives is frequently raised. 

Those who argue that states should use ballot initiatives to make major policy decisions argue that doing so allows the opinions of people to best be heard. They argue that some measures are so important that they should be voted on directly by the people. They contend that districting in a state can sometimes give more power to a political party that doesn’t reflect the political beliefs of the majority of residents. They argue that this constitutes minority rule, and the ballot initiative is a way to prevent this from happening.  

Those who argue that states should not use ballot initiatives to make major policy decisions argue that doing so does not fit with the constitutional republic form of government that we have. They argue that voters should elect officials to make most, if not all, policy decisions as many people are not knowledgeable enough on topics to make an educated vote on them. They may also argue that direct democracy can lead to the people making brash decisions. Finally, they may claim that representatives not voting on major issues allows them to pass the buck if an enacted policy goes wrong, since voters cannot decide who was responsible and should be voted out of office.  

So, what do you think? Should States Use Ballot Initiatives to Make Major Policy Decisions? Students can answer Yes, they should; No, they should not; or a nuanced answer in between! Be sure to submit your responses by November 30 to have a chance at winning this week’s contest. 


Note: Ideal Think the Vote responses include the following:      

  • Address the question asked in a thoughtful and meaningful manner     
  • Use cited facts and constitutional arguments when appropriate to support their answers      
  • Are expressed in cohesive sentences and are free of distracting spelling, punctuation, and grammatical errors      
  • They address counterarguments and opposing concerns in a respectful manner      
  • They organize their answer in a manner that flows logically and reads clearly   


For this question, BRI will be giving away two $25 gift cards, one to each person providing the best defense of each side of the debate. Both students will also win BRI swag. Each student winner will also be entered for a chance to win a grand prize of a $1,000 cash scholarship. Additionally, the referring teachers for both students will each win a $25 gift card and BRI swag. 

This question will run from 11/16/23 to 11/30/23, so be sure to submit your answers in time to be considered for our prizes! 

(For rules/regulations click HERE) 

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