Document Type


Publication Title

Buffalo Law Review

Publication Date



direct democracy, deliberative democracy, initiative, referendum, elections


Every election cycle a great number of citizens take to the polls to vote on public policy matters directly. Direct democracy has problems. And an account of deliberative democracy—far from being a source to critique direct democracy—might provide a solution. I have three goals here. First, I hope to identify some problems with the mechanisms of direct democracy that most states and many cities throughout the country employ: the initiative and the referendum. Next, I will offer a potential solution to these institutional problems using aspects of the theory of deliberative democracy, a theory often marshaled to undermine direct democracy. Finally, I will spell out why this design project should be of especial interest to lawyers.