The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
7 Points

Ballot Initiatives in General

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/26/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,696 times Debate No: 8421
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (4)
Votes (1)




Ballot initiative defined - "a means by which a petition signed by a certain minimum number of registered voters can force a public vote on a proposed statute, constitutional amendment, charter amendment or ordinance... It is a form of direct democracy."

"A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine."

- Thomas Jefferson

California's Proposition 8 results:

Yes - 52.2%
No - 47.8%

Put the pieces together. Please respond.


I would like to begin by thanking my C-Mack for providing me with the opportunity to debate this most interesting of topics. I wish him good luck in the following four rounds of debate.

It is difficult to gauge precisely what position Con seeks to take because he does not identify one in his first round of debate. Additionally, he does not provide a case for the resolution he does not state. For the purposes of this round I must assume that the resolution is 'Ballot Initiatives should be used.' Given the few statements made by C-Mack I will further assume that he means to take the Con position of this resolution. Therefore:

Resolved, That Ballot Initiatives should be continue to be used.

Because Con failed to do so, I will offer definitions on the different types of Ballot Initiatives currently in use in the U.S. There are currently four types of ballot initiatives in use:
Direct Initiative: The issue in question goes directly to the ballot upon successful completion of the Ballot Initiative requirements.
Indirect Initiative: The issue goes to the legislature for consideration. If the legislature does not act, then the issue goes to the ballot.
Legislative Referendum: Laws and other measures originating in the legislature are referred to voters.
Popular Referendum: The public, by petition, can force a popular vote on a law already passed by the legislature.
(Definitions gathered from:

Unless addressed by Con, I will not address either form of referendum since Con's R1 suggests he means to debate initiatives and not referenda.

In this debate it is my burden to show that either the direct, the indirect, or some other manifestation of the Ballot Initiative should be used by the U.S. government. It is Con's burden to show that no form of ballot initiative should be used by the U.S. government.


Below I will outline several theoretical and practical reasons why ballot initiatives should remain as an important aspect of U.S. government theory.

Indirect Initiatives exist as one of the few outlets for the public to air its grievances to representatives. These Initiatives are also among the most effective means of raising awareness of an issue to government and the public alike. Legislators are less likely to pay attention to a small interest group lobbying for an issue than they are to the collection of thousands of signatures demanding consideration of an issue.

Direct Initiatives provide the public with a means to address an issue that a particularly stubborn legislature may refuse to consider. As I will outline below, even this form is subject to checks and balances.

Collection of the requisite number of signatures or passage of the indirect initiative does not result in the automatic passage of the issue in question. Instead, it informs the legislature that the public wishes that it would consider the issue. If the legislature fails to act, then upon another round of signatures the issue can go directly to the ballot.

Once an issue passes the popular vote it is still subject to constitutional review. This I will address in the following section. It is important to note that the state executive does not have the power to veto a law passed in this manner. I predict this will be one place where Con will attack the ballot initiative system. However, this does not eliminate the possibility of a ballot initiative system in with the executive does have the power to veto a law passed by the ballot initiative.

There currently exists a sufficient check on the power of the ballot initiative to ensure that an initiative is not unconstitutional or oppressive. Con brings up the recent California initiative known as Proposition 8 which banned same-sex marriage. This event provides an example. Upon passage Proposition 8 was sent to the California Supreme Court to consider its constitutionality. Unfortunately, on 26 May 2009 the CA Supreme Court upheld the ban. However, its appearance in CA's high court illustrates that there is a check on the ballot initiative - even if some portions of the public do not like the outcome. All states which allow ballot initiatives also allow judicial review of the initiatives.

There are other checks in a few states that allow ballot initiatives. Some states allow the state Secretary of State to reject or amend an initiative.


Because ballot initiatives allow the public to air grievances more effectively than other means; and
because ballot initiatives are subject to due process; and
because there exists a proper check on the power of the ballot initiative:
the resolution (Ballot Initiatives should be utilized by the U.S. government) is affirmed.
Debate Round No. 1


C-Mach forfeited this round.


Unfortunately my opponent, for whatever reason, was unable to provide an argument for the second round. I'm sure he had a valid reason, and I ask the audience to forgive him this one forfeiture. There are plenty of rounds left in which he and I can make our arguments.

My arguments extend to the next round.
Debate Round No. 2


C-Mach forfeited this round.


Again I ask the audience to forgive Con. Surely he has a valid reason for forfeiting two rounds. Besides, now this becomes a regular three round debate.

All arguments extended to the next round.
Debate Round No. 3


C-Mach forfeited this round.


Another forfeit. Con has one more opportunity to present his case, which he has thus far failed to do.

My arguments extend.
Debate Round No. 4


C-Mach forfeited this round.


Another forfeiture. Vote Pro.
Debate Round No. 5
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by JBlake 8 years ago
Not a problem at all. If you ever have the time and desire we can give it another shot. Just shoot me a challenge.
Posted by C-Mach 8 years ago
I am sorry about not participating. I had an absolutely gargantuan map project I had to complete.
Posted by C-Mach 8 years ago
I am suggesting that ballot initiatives not be used.
Posted by JBlake 8 years ago
Drop it to three rounds and I will likely accept the debate.

Also, I urge you to (at the very least) put in a one sentence resolution so that I know exactly what it is you are trying to debate. Are you suggesting that referendums are should not be used?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by JBlake 8 years ago
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Total points awarded:07