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 many U.S. states, ballot measures may originate by several different processes:
- 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).