Ballot measures have often been used successfully to pass ethics laws that politicians refused to support. For example, many limits on gifts, particularly from lobbyists, have been passed through ballot measures.
However only 26 states allow ballot measures and only 18 of those allow constitutional amendments. Many cities also do not have a path for a ballot measure. Initiatives also present other problems. Because they can be difficult to pass, they often require support from elected officials. This gives them an opportunity to water down the measure or create loopholes. Each voter must consider it all-or-nothing. Once passed, statutes, especially constitutional amendments can be difficult to amend to fix small things.