Direct Democracy in the United States

27 Pages Posted: 26 Mar 2009

Date Written: May 13, 2004


The United States is hardly a "model" of direct democracy. Historically, our system has been notable for several institutions of government that might more accurately be described as distinctly "indirect" and "undemocratic." Against this backdrop of "indirect undemocracy," we might ask how it happened that the instruments of direct democracy -- initiative, referendum, and recall -- gained a place in the American political system. This manuscript is a brief history of how direct legislation became a part of state and local government in America during the twentieth century.

Keywords: direct democracy

JEL Classification: K00

Suggested Citation

Marcello, David, Direct Democracy in the United States (May 13, 2004). Tulane Public Law Research Paper No. 04-13, Available at SSRN: or

David Marcello (Contact Author)

Tulane University Law School ( email )

6329 Freret Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
United States

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