A plebiscite is a direct vote by eligible voters to decide an important public question, such as a change to the constitution, secession, or a similar issue of national or regional importance.
The word plebiscite comes from the Latin word plebiscitum, meaning "a decree of the people," with the roots plebs, "the common people," and scitum, "decree." A plebiscite can also be called a referendum. Periodically, for example, Quebec separatists hold a plebiscite to determine whether Quebec should secede from Canada. So far, the secessionists have not prevailed at the polls.