Author:Dennis J. Mahoney

Page 2146

Among the political reforms introduced during the Progressive era was the referendum, by which acts of the legislature are referred to the people for their approval or rejection at an election. Referenda may be initiated by the legislature itself or by petition of the people. The referendum is a check on such abuses as corrupt legislation or blatantly partisan gerrymandering of legislative districts (see GERRYMANDER) but it also provides a way for politicians to avoid responsibility for controversial measures.

Reformers have frequently advocated a national referendum procedure. However, legislation authorizing a...

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