What Is Direct Democracy?

Direct democracy is a form of government in which citizens rather than representatives decide the laws and policies that govern them. Direct democracy contrasts with a representative democracy, where representatives make policy decisions on behalf of citizens.

Although the United States has a representative democracy at the federal level, direct democracy exists to some degree at the state level. State referendums are an example of direct democracy in the United States. Referendums allow the public to decide a particular issue by direct vote. In addition, the recall process in certain states is a form of direct democracy. Recalls allow citizens to remove a public official from office given enough public support, usually in the form of signatures or votes.