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"Ballot measures are not a replacement for representative government," writes Chris Melody Fields Figueredo.

Ballot initiatives are voters’ best tactics, so use them

On Thursday we published a countervailing view: "More ballot initiatives won't make Americans feel better about politics."

Fields Figueredo is executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, which analyzes and supports ballot measures.

Direct democracy finds its roots in ancient Greece, where at the inception, male citizens were able to participate in decision making. The word "democracy," or demos kratis, translates to "power of the people" in Greek.

Flash forward to the United States, where our representative democracy introduced the ballot initiative process to fight corporate excess during the progressive movement of the early 20th century. Since then, ballot measures became a key part of the democratic tradition in more than two dozen states as a check to endure the power of the people.

Over the years, however, big business has found ways to use the ballot initiative process to its advantage. In the 1990s and early 2000s, the ballot measure process was largely a tool of conservatives. The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center was founded during this period to fight conservative inroads at the ballot box. While in its early years, we were largely on the defensive, increasingly we are helping our partners used the ballot box to advance progressive change through ballot initiatives.

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