History of California Initiatives

This history of initiatives from 1912 through 2016 offers a statistical review of initiatives and provides a break down of initiatives.

  • Initiative Totals by Title and Summary Year (PDF) charts the number of initiatives, receiving a title and summary, which qualified, failed, or were withdrawn from the process.
  • Initiatives Voted into Law (PDF) charts all the initiatives that have been voted into law, along with the percentage by which they were approved.
  • Initiatives by Title and Summary Year (PDF) charts the proposed initiative measures that received a title and summary each year and shows which initiatives qualified or failed to qualify for the ballot, and once qualified, if they were approved or rejected by voters.
  • Summary of Data (PDF) provides a one page summarization of the total number of initiatives cleared for circulation, qualified for the ballot, how many were approved by voters, and of those, how many provided for changes to statutes, the California constitution, or both.

Prior to 1960, initiative measures appeared on general election ballots only. From 1960 to mid-2011, initiative measures appeared on primary, general, and special election ballots. As a result of Senate Bill 202 (Chapter 558, Statutes of 2011), from July 2011 forward, initiative measures will once again only appear on general election ballots.

Ballot measures were not numbered until the general election of 1914. The chronological section of this history entitled "Initiatives by Year" notes the election in which each initiative appeared.

Please note that information from the California State Archives regarding some election years is limited; therefore, some measures may exclude election dates and the category of the initiative (i.e., constitutional amendment, statute, etc.). Also note that this history may provide the title of an initiative as it appeared in circulation, which may differ slightly from the title used on the ballot.

NOTE: For the guidelines on the initiative process, please refer to the Secretary of State's Initiative Guide.