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Referendum is the process by which the repeal or approval of an existing statute, state constitutional provision, or even election result is voted upon by the voters. Certain states enshrine the power of the public to conduct referendums in their constitution. Article II of the California constitution, for example, gives the citizens the right to petition for a referendum. Section 9 describes the California referendum as “the power of the electors to approve or reject statutes or parts of statutes except urgency statutes, statutes calling elections, and statutes providing for tax levies or appropriations for usual current expenses of the State.” A referendum measure makes it on the ballot when over five percent of the voters sign the petition. To illustrate, in November of 2020, Californian voters approved a referendum that repealed a statute that defined app-based drivers, such as Uber and Lyft drivers, as employees and not independent contractors. Similarly, referendums may refer to efforts taken to recall an election. For example, in 2011, voters in Wisconsin launched an unsuccessful referendum to recall Governor Scott Walker.

[Last updated in December of 2020 by the Wex Definitions Team]