Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level



Political Science


Parry, Janine A.

Committee Member/Reader

Sebold, Karen D.

Committee Member/Second Reader

Brogi, Alessandro

Committee Member/Third Reader

Sakon, Joshua


In the Progressive Era, almost half of the U.S. states adopted the ballot initiative, the process by which citizens can petition to change their state’s laws or constitution independent of their state’s legislature. Many Progressives believed the initiative would have positive “educative effects” on voters, such as increasing voter turnout. Most studies show the Progressives’ hypothesis that the initiative would increase turnout was correct, but how and for whom the initiative increases turnout remains disputed. Using two Arkansas initiative petitions and the Arkansas voter registration file, I find that the act of signing a ballot initiative petition significantly increases the likelihood that a citizen will turn out to vote in the subsequent election. However, I find that voters with some, but not consistent, prior voting experience were most spurred to turn out by the 2014 minimum-wage increase petition, while voters with no recent voting experience were most affected by the 2016 medical marijuana legalization petition.


Initiative, petition, turnout, Arkansas, direct democracy, medical marijuana, minimum wage