Decades after Kentucky abolished de jure racial distinctions in education, the state legislature asked voters to strip segregationist language from their venerable constitution. Political elites were stunned when a third of the state's voters, and majorities in five countries, rejected the change. However, the prime culprit for Kentucky's 1996 constitutional amendment vote was not white racism, because African-American voters endorsed segregation at rates similar to whites. Rather, the Kentucky vote offers a particularly clear and particularly dramatic example of the limits of ballot-box policy making. It should alert scholars that highly publicized referenda in high-profile states - the focus of much direct-democracy research - may not be representative of how direct democracy usually operates.
Voss, D. Stephen
"The Phantom Segregationist: Kentucky's 1996 Desegregation Amendment and the Limits of Direct Democracy,"
Commonwealth Review of Political Science: Vol. 4:
1, Article 2.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.murraystate.edu/crps/vol4/iss1/2