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A ballot measure is a piece of proposed legislation to be approved or rejected by eligible voters. Ballot measures are also known as "propositions" or simply "questions".
Ballot measures differ from most legislation passed by representative democracies; ordinarily, an elected legislature develops and passes laws. Ballot measures, by contrast, are an example of direct democracy.
In the United States ballot measures may be established by several different processes which vary amongst the states:
- Initiative, in which any citizen or organization may gather a predetermined number of signatures to qualify a measure for the ballot;
- Popular referendum, in which a predetermined number of signatures (typically lower than the number required for an initiative) qualifies a ballot measure repealing a specific act of the legislature;
- Legislative referral (a.k.a. "legislative referendum"), in which the legislature puts proposed legislation up for popular vote (either voluntarily or, in the case of a constitutional amendment as a required procedure).
- Recall election, in which voters can remove an elected official from office through a direct vote before that official's term has ended
In Switzerland, same kind of ballot measures are known as votations.