Ballot Initiative Strategy Center

In Brief:

BISC aims to coordinate a shared framework that enables progressives to use ballot measures as a tool for movement building and progressive policy advancement while also lessening the cost of defensive battles. Ballot initiatives can be used as a tool to civically engage progressive constituencies, provide national issue platforms to advance progressive goals, build capacity through issue campaigns, and support strong in-state infrastructure for proactive work.

The Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC) is the progressive movement’s premiere organization working on ballot measures, helping national and state partners and funders build a cohesive ballot measure strategy.

Its innovative research and training and expert strategic assistance helps ensure the best outcomes for ballot measure campaigns.

BISC believes that proactive and progressive ballot measures offer a unique opportunity to empower voters through innovative messaging, increase participation in the political process by organizing around issues that motivate, and realize policy that makes people’s lives better.

What BISC Stands For

With conservatives in control of not only the U.S. Congress, but 68 of 98 state legislative chambers and 31 governorships, ballot measures are more important than ever. Indeed, in the states where conservatives control both legislative chambers and the governorship, ballot measures may be the only avenue for making progressive policy change.

BISC’s cutting-edge research, training and strategic assistance helps ensure the best outcomes for progressive ballot-measure campaigns.

The organization works with partners to fight for issues including:

  • Economic fairness (including minimum wage & earned sick leave)
  • Voting rights
  • LGBT non-discrimination
  • Women’s Health

Over the past 15 years, BISC has helped state-based organizations throughout the country defeat anti-choice, anti-tax and anti-LGBT measures, and win campaigns on the minimum wage, criminal justice reform and voting rights. In addition, one of its most important roles is as a critical link between the diverse progressive organizations and communities affected by ballot measures.

The Work

With the support of visionary funders and committed national and state partners, BISC provides these valuable programs:

Campaign Support

BISC helps progressive campaigns develop smart strategies for success and fosters a collaborative approach to ballot measures.

Organizations that take advantage of BISC’s training and strategic assistance are better prepared, more efficient, and more likely to win their initiative campaigns. It provides partners with cutting-edge research, advice on strategy and tactics, and analyses of campaign budgets, funding, messaging, and operations.


BISC helps progressive campaigns develop smart strategies for success and fosters a collaborative approach to ballot measures. It conducts essential research on the science of ballot measures – how voters feel about and make decisions on ballot measures, how best to communicate with and persuade them, how different issues interact with one another on the ballot, which issues most engage the New American Majority, and more.

This critical knowledge is share with partners and incorporated into strategic assistance, trainings and other outreach to help organizations throughout the country win ballot-measure campaigns.

Digital Library

BISC created a digital library that houses ballot-measure information ranging from past campaign materials, to campaign debriefs, to memos highlighting best practices. This library is a unique resource all campaigns should access to help build their own strategies.

The Resistance

Since the 2016 Election, the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center continued to lead the movement in building a national progressive strategy for ballot measures. In the current political moment, BISC has redoubled its commitment to long-term power building strategies with efforts such as Roadmap to 2020 that works with partners in 11 states to advance initiatives to build an economy and democracy that benefits low-income, people of color, young people, and women. BISC also continues to work to defend communities and rights under attack by conservatives like abortion access, LGBTQ equality, voting and workers’ rights, and efforts to undermine the ballot measure process itself.