Is it possible for congress to delegate voting on specific policies to a nationwide popular vote at the federal level? If so, how would this be accomplished?

  • 1
    While there is no binding process, congress could probably fund a national non-binding referendum.
    – Viktor
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 1:43
  • Concur. Congress could hold a non-binding referendum that would be entirely symbolic. Thus,it is unlikely to ever happen. Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 1:55
  • For that matter, Congress could hold a binding referendum, by passing a law that says as such. Of course, they could pass another law to repeal the first, but it'd be binding until then.
    – Bobson
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 15:36
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    @Bobson I would disagree with that interpretation. Particularly because in the past the Supreme Court has held some types of direct democracy initiatives as unconstitutional in regard to the republican form of government clause in the constitution. Also Congress legally cannot delegate their law making authority to others without an intelligible principle basis (see https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nondelegation_doctrine). Thus a non binding referendum would have to do.
    – Viktor
    Commented Aug 17, 2016 at 16:32

1 Answer 1


There is not currently a way for the federal government to hold a national vote on anything, including referenda. All elections in this country officially happen at a state level (or lower).

Remember, in presidential elections, voters in each state pick electors who compromise the Electoral College. (In a certain sense, the Electoral College itself conducts a national vote, but since there are only 538 electors, it's not really the same.)

The National Initiative movement supports the creation of a system that would allow the kind of federal referendum. In order to do this, the US Constitution would need to be amended to explicitly give US citizens the right to vote on policies.

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