How we got here
Most legislative changes made in New York and around the nation are done through representative democracy – in which voters select representatives, who then are charged with passing laws. However, in about half of US states, there are forms of Direct Democracy available through initiative and referendum.
However, at the state level, lawmakers have consistently failed to enact initiative and referendum in New York, choosing instead to cling to power themselves. Interestingly, this form of direct democracy is available at the local level of government throughout the state through permissive referendum.
Why it’s a problem
Thousands of bills are introduced into the New York State Legislature every year, yet the legislation actually enacted isn’t addressing the issues most New Yorkers have called the most important for more than 20 years. Even though voters think the state is on the wrong track (47-37%), and the state legislature is regularly ranked as one of the least popular, least effective, and least trusted in the United States, the issues most important to New York voters simply are not being addressed.