In many states and localities, citizens make laws by initiative. Many winning initiatives, however, are later ignored or altered substantially. Why? Our answer emerges from two underappreciated aspects of the initiative process. First, many initiatives contain policies that powerful governmental actors once prevented from passing via traditional legislative channels. Second, implementation can require these actors to comply with policies they once opposed. The question then becomes: When do governmental actors comply with winning initiatives? We use a model and examples to clarify the post-election politics of initiative compliance. Our findings defy conventional explanations of how initiatives change public policy.