Proposition 36 was passed by a 2/1 yes/no vote, which is a landslide vote. This initiative, which started as a petition by  ordinary  citizens, will become law on January 1, 2001.




The initiative process is an example of  democracy by petition,  which is a form of democracy in which  registered voters get together to make policy decisions. Democracy by petition is a form of direct democracy supplements representative democracy, the form of democracy in which people eligible to participate elect lawmakers to make policy decisions. California is one of 21 states that use direct democracy to make laws.  Any citizen is permitted to write laws or even state constitutional amendments and, if supported by the petition of enough other citizens (about 5%, in California 265, 000 valid signatures are needed), the initiative will appear on the ballot in the next general election. If the initiative receives a simple majority, 50 percent plus one,  of the popular vote, it becomes law. Initiatives are for local and state levels only, not the federal or national level of government.



A1.     The initiative is an example of which type of democracy?

A2.     What is the purpose of the initiative process?

A3.     What is the difference between direct and representational democracy?

A4.     Do all states use the initiative process?

A5.     Can a federal law be made through an initiative?

A6.     What level(s) of government can the voter effect by using the initiative process?

A7.     How does an initiative get on the ballot?

A8.     What is a simple majority?

A9.     Does an initiative need the governors signature to become law?



Another form of democracy by petition is the referendum; this is similar to the initiative process, but there is one major difference. Where initiatives create new legislation, the referendum is a petition by registered voters, (the people, not elected official), to have legislative action put on the next ballot for a vote by the people. California is one of only 15 states that use the referendum procedure. In this way, ordinary citizens can prevent new legislation from becoming law, or enforcement of existing laws. The referendum is for local and state levels of government only, not the federal or national level of government.



B1.     What is the fundamental difference between the initiative and referendum?

B2.     What levels of government use the referendum process?

B3.     How many states are able to have the voters block legislation directly?

B4.     If a referendum is successful in passing, can the existing law still be enforced?

B5.     How does a referendum get on the ballot?

B6.     Does a referendum create new legislation?



The third form of democracy by petition is the recall procedure. The people can petition to have an elected official removed from office. If enough voters sign the recall petition, a special election is called, then the voters decide by simple majority, whether or not the official targeted in the recall election will remain in office. In a recall election, a yes vote is a vote for removal of the targeted official, and a no vote is for the targeted official to remain in office. Like the initiative and the referendum, any state or local official, including judges that are subject to the elective process, can be subject to recall. California is also one of only 15 states that use the recall procedure. The initiative, referendum, and recall measures are on the ballot after the candidates, and are labeled individually. In this way, the voter knows exactly what his or her vote is for, and why. These three forms of direct democracy are for local and state levels only, not the federal or national level of government.




C1.     How many forms of democracy by petition do we currently have?

C2.     At which levels of government is the recall procedure used today?

C3.     Which lawmakers are subject to the recall procedure?

C4.     Can any judge be recalled?

C5.     When are voters able to vote on recall measures?

C6.     Do all states use the recall process?

C7.     What type of election is held for the possible recall of an elected official?

C8      Does an elected official have to be convicted of a crime to be recalled?

C9.    What does a yes vote mean in a recall election?