Direct democracy and representative democracy are similar in that they both rely on a vote by the masses. Both democracies have established guidelines to follow when scheduling a vote. These guidelines are often defined by a constitution or legislative body. Both democracies also frequently have some type of limitation on who is allowed to cast a vote, such as an age limit.
Direct democracy and representative democracy primarily differ in the results of their votes. In a direct democracy— also called a popular vote — the person voted for by the majority of voters wins, and, therefore, the majority pass proposals directly into law. In a representative democracy, the majority elects representatives to debate the merits of a proposed law and cast their votes in accordance with their own conscience, even if their conscience goes against the will of those they represent.
Even though there are no direct democracies in the world today, representative democracies may employ direct (popular) votes from time to time to determine legislation. An example of a popular vote put before a representative democracy would be the 2016 United Kingdom vote to secede from the European Union.