… “This isn’t how democracy works,” said Justine Sarver, executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, a nonprofit that works with progressive ballot campaigns. “You don’t get to pick and choose when you like a process and when you don’t.” Sarver sees a trend of legislatures trying to restrict voters’ ability to make laws and amend state constitutions around the country. The popularity of initiatives has ebbed and flowed across the years, and the roles of defender and critic have been fluid. But there are a few factors that make the present moment especially ripe for such conflicts. First, Republicans dominate state legislatures around the country, thanks to favorable redistricting maps drawn after the 2010 Census, even in states with sizable Democratic-leaning voter bases that want more progressive policies. Second, while ballots sometimes function to deal with purely state-level concerns, policy fights are increasingly nationalized. Groups like BISC and the Fairness Project are working to coordinate state-level pushes around the country on liberal reforms like paid sick leave, minimum-wage hikes, or recreational marijuana. Their opponents are working at the national level too. In November, ProPublica and The New York Times reported on how major corporate lobbies, some convened under the auspices of the Koch brothers’ political network, have sought to push back on ballot measures.The first battle of the year came in January, when South Dakota repealed a set of ethics reforms passed by voters, including limits of giving to campaign by lobbyists and the creation of an independent ethics commission. But there are several contentious issues still on the table.In November, Mainers passed several contentious ballot measures. On one, they voted to legalize recreational marijuana for people older than 21. A second question asked voters to increase taxes on households making more than $200,000 annually to fund public education. Each of these passed by narrow margins. A third question sought to raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour by 2020, including specific language to raise the minimum wage for workers who receive tips, like waiters. That passed by an 11 percent margin.