Initiative and Referendum Processes

8/11/2021

Introduction

Citizen initiatives and popular referenda are two forms of direct democracy.

The citizen initiative process enables citizens to bypass their state legislature by placing proposed statutes and, in some states, constitutional amendments on the ballot. Twenty-four states have citizen initiative processes.

The popular referendum process allows voters to approve or repeal an act of the legislature. Twenty-three states have popular referendum processes.

In 2002, NCSL published Initiative and Referendum in the 21st Century, an in-depth study on initiatives and referenda that includes recommendations for policymakers.

On the graphic below, select either “Citizen Initiatives” or “Popular Referenda” at the top of the map. Then, select a topic from the column at the left for comprehensive information or select a state in the map for state-specific information.

 

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Popular Referendum States and Year Adopted

States may limit the subject matter of popular referenda. States may apply a single-subject rule or other restrictions.

Year of Adoption

Twenty-three states have a popular referendum process. Note that all but two of these states—Maryland and New Mexico—also have the initiative process.

Alaska: 1959
Arizona: 1912
Arkansas: 1920
California: 1911
Colorado: 1910
Idaho: Constitutional provision adopted 1912, laws specifying mechanics adopted 1933
Maine: 1908
Maryland: 1915
Massachusetts: 1917
Michigan: 1908
Missouri: 1908
Montana: 1906
Nebraska: 1912
Nevada: 1904
New Mexico: 1911
North Dakota: 1914
Ohio: 1912
Oklahoma: 1907
Oregon: 1902
South Dakota: 1898
Utah: 1900
Washington 1912
Wyoming: 1968

Subject Matter Limitations

Four states have no restrictions on what sorts of laws can be subjected to the popular referendum: Arkansas, Idaho, Maine and North Dakota. It is unclear whether the following language in Nevada applies to popular referenda (provisions for which are included in the relevant article), or only to initiatives: “This Article does not permit the proposal of any statute or statutory amendment which makes an appropriation or otherwise requires the expenditure of money, unless such statute or amendment also imposes a sufficient tax, not prohibited by the Constitution, or otherwise constitutionally provides for raising the necessary revenue.”

The other 19 states limit the subject matter of laws that the popular referendum can address.

State

Citation

Subject Matter Excluded From Popular Referendum

Alaska

Const. Art. XI, § 7 and AS § 15.45.250

Dedications of revenue, appropriations, local or special legislation or laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety

Arizona

Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(3)

Laws immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety, or for the support and maintenance of the departments of the state government and state institutions

California

Const. Art II, § 9

Urgency statutes, statutes calling elections or statutes providing for tax levies or appropriations for current expenses of the state

Colorado

Const. Art. V, § 1(3)

Laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, and appropriations for the support and maintenance of the departments of state and state institutions

Maryland

Const. Art. XVI, § 2

Laws making any appropriation for maintaining the state government or for maintaining or aiding any public institution, not exceeding the next previous appropriation for the same purpose

Massachusetts

Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 2

Laws that relate to religion, religious practices or religious institutions; the appointment, qualification, tenure, removal or compensation of judges; the powers, creation or abolition of courts; the operation of a particular town, city or other political division or to particular districts or localities of the commonwealth; or the appropriation of money for the current or ordinary expenses of the commonwealth or for any of its departments, boards, commissions or institutions.

Michigan

Const. Art. II, § 9

Acts making appropriations for state institutions or to meet deficiencies in state funds

Missouri

Const. Art. III, § 52(a)

Laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, and laws making appropriations for the current expenses of the state government, for the maintenance of state institutions and for the support of public schools

Montana

Const. Art. III, § 5(1)

Appropriations of money

Nebraska

Const. Art. III, § 3 and NRS § 32-1408

Acts making appropriations for the expense of the state government or a state institution existing at the time of the passage of such act. The secretary of state is prohibited by law from accepting for filing any referendum petition which interferes with the legislative prerogative contained in the Constitution of Nebraska that the necessary revenue of the state and its governmental subdivisions shall be raised by taxation in the manner as the legislature may direct.

Nevada

Const. Art. 19, § 6

Note: It is unclear whether the following language applies only to initiatives or also to referenda: “This Article does not permit the proposal of any statute or statutory amendment which makes an appropriation or otherwise requires the expenditure of money, unless such statute or amendment also imposes a sufficient tax, not prohibited by the Constitution, or otherwise constitutionally provides for raising the necessary revenue.”

New Mexico

Const. Art. IV, § 1

General appropriation laws; laws providing for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety; for the payment of the public debt or interest thereon, or the creation or funding of the same, except as in this constitution otherwise provided; for the maintenance of the public schools or state institutions; and local or special laws

Ohio

Const. Art. II, § 1d and 1e

Laws providing for tax levies; appropriations for the current expenses of the state government and state institutions; and emergency laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety. Laws authorizing any classification of property for the purpose of levying different rates of taxation thereon or of authorizing the levy of any single tax on land or land values or land sites at a higher rate or by a different rule than is or may be applied to improvements thereon or to personal property.

Oklahoma

Const. Art. V, § 2

Laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety

Oregon

Const. Art. IV, § 1(3)

Acts that become effective earlier than 90 days after the end of the session

South Dakota

Const. Art. 3, § 1

Such laws as may be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, or laws necessary for the support of the state government and its existing public institutions

Utah

Const. Art. VI, § 1 and Utah Code § 20A-7-102

Laws passed by a two-thirds vote of the members of each house

Washington

Const. Art. II, § 1(b)

Such laws as may be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, or laws necessary for the support of the state government and its existing public institutions

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52(g) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-401

Laws related to dedications of revenue, appropriations, local or special legislation or laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety

Petition Application Process

All states require proponents of a popular referendum to follow guidelines. These guidelines may include an application process, registering a certain number of sponsors, submitting the full text and an explanation of the measure, affidavits, the office or offices to file with, registering a proponent or opposition organization, campaign finance issues and the process for withdrawing a referendum.

Application and Filing Requirements

Nine states require filing an initial number of signatures of sponsors as part of an application to circulate a popular referendum petition.

State

Citation

Number of Signatures to File

Alaska

AS § 15.45.260

At least 100

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1804

At least 20

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A. § 11-901

5

Massachusetts

Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 3

10

North Dakota

Const. Art. III, § 2

At least 25

Ohio

O.R.C. § 3519.01(B)

1,000

Oregon

O.R.S. § 250.045

At least 1,000 and no more than 2,000

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-7-302

At least 5

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52(b) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-402

At least 100

Four states require a filing fee in statute.

State

Citation

Fee Amount

Alaska

AS § 15.45.260 and .270

$100; refunded if application is properly filed

California

Const. Art II, § 10 and Elec. Code § 9001

$2,000; refunded if measure qualifies for the ballot within two years

Washington

RCW § 43.07.120

Amount is specified by secretary of state by rule.

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-403

$500; deposited in general fund

Where to File Application

In 18 states, the application to circulate a popular referendum petition is filed with the chief election officer. This is generally the secretary of state, but in Alaska and Utah, the lieutenant governor is the state’s chief election officer. In California, it is filed with the attorney general, and Ohio requires a second filing with the attorney general in addition to the secretary of state. In Arkansas and Maryland, the application is filed with the state election board.

State

Citation

Where to File Application

Alaska

Const. Art. XI, § 2 and AS § 15.45.260

Lieutenant governor

Arizona

ARS § 19-111

Secretary of state

Arkansas

Const. Art. 5, § 1 and A.C.A. § 7-9-105

State Board of Election Commissioners

California

Elec. Code § 9001

Attorney general

Colorado

Const. Art. V, § 1(3)

Secretary of state

Idaho

IC § 34-1804

Secretary of state

Maine

21-A MRS § 11-901

Secretary of state

Maryland

Elec. Law § 6-103

State Board of Elections (Note: the board is empowered to adopt rules for filing applications, so presumably such applications are filed with the board.)

Massachusetts

Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 3

Secretary of the commonwealth

Michigan

MCL § 168.471

Secretary of state

Missouri

Const. Art. III, § 52(a) and Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.332

Secretary of state

Montana

Const. Art. III, § 5(1) and MCA § 13-27-202

Secretary of state

Nebraska

NRS § 32-1405

Secretary of state

Nevada

Const. Art. 19, § 1 and NRS § 295.015

Secretary of state

New Mexico

NMSA § 1-17-8

Secretary of state

North Dakota

Const. Art. III, § 2

Secretary of state

Ohio

ORC § 3519.01(B) and ORC § 3519.01(B)

Secretary of state and attorney general

Oklahoma

Const. Art. V, § 3 and OK Stat. Tit. 34, § 1

Secretary of state

Oregon

Const. Art. IV, § 1(4) and ORS § 250.045

Secretary of state

South Dakota

SDCL § 2-1-3.1

Secretary of state

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-7-302

Lieutenant governor

Washington

Const. Art. II, § 1(b) and RCW § 29A.72.010

Secretary of state

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52(b) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-402

Secretary of state

Withdrawing a Popular Referendum

Seven states specify a process for withdrawing a popular referendum petition from circulation; the remaining states do not.

State

Citation

Petition Withdrawal Process

California

Elec. Code § 9604

Proponents may withdraw a measure at any time before filing the petition.

Missouri

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.115

The sponsor may file a written notice to withdraw the initiative with the secretary of state.

Nevada

NRS § 295.026

May be withdrawn by any of the people authorized to do so in the original application; withdrawal is made via a form prescribed by the secretary of state.

Ohio

O.R.C. § 3519.08

Any time more than 70 days before the election, a majority of the committee members may withdraw the petition by writing to the secretary of state.

Oklahoma

OK Stat. Tit. 34, § 8

Any time before the final submission of signatures, the delegated proponents may write to the secretary of state to withdraw.

Oregon

O.R.S. § 250.029

The chief petitioners may withdraw at any time before submitting the total number of signatures for verification. All of the chief petitioners must sign the form to withdraw.

South Dakota

SDCL § 2-1-2.3

May remove no later than 120 days prior to the next general election and at least two-thirds of petition sponsors must sign the form

Petition Content

The guidelines for the format and content of petitions vary by state. Most states require that the petition bear a title and/or summary of the proposed measure. Who writes this varies. Several states require two officials to write or review the title and/or summary, given the importance of these items for a ballot measure.

Petition sheets will always include space for signatures. Other requirements may include a legal warning, a statement that the petition circulator is paid, a summary of the proposed measure, the full text of the measure, the county or district where the signature was collected, a warning to signers and more.

Who Writes the Title and Summary for the Petition

Ten states have at least one government official draft or review the petition title and/or summary. Another 10 states allow petition sponsors to draft the title and/or summary, in some cases with approval by a state official. In some states, the official title of the legislation that is the subject of the referendum appears on the petition. Details on who or which offices writes the title and summary are listed below.

State

Citation

Who Drafts Title and/or Summary

Alaska

AS § 15.45.320

Lieutenant governor

Arizona

A.R.S. § 19-101(A)

Petition sponsor

Arkansas

Const. Art. 5, § 1 and A.C.A. § 7-9-107

Petition sponsor

California

Elec. Code § 9006

Attorney general

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 1-40-106

A title board, which is comprised of the secretary of state, attorney general and director of the office of legislative legal services

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1809

Petition sponsors, with approval of attorney general

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A. § 901(4)

Secretary of state

Maryland

Const. Art. XVI, § 4

Written by petitions sponsors, approved by attorney general

Massachusetts

Const. Art. LXXIV, § 2 and M.G.L.A. ch. 54, § 53

Secretary of state and attorney general

Michigan

MCL § 168.482b

Drafted by sponsors and approved by board of state canvassers

Missouri

Mo.Rev. Stat. § 116.030 and .180

Petition bears the title of the bill it seeks to repeal, and the secretary of state drafts the ballot title that appears on the petition.

Montana

MCA 13-27-312

Petition sponsors, approved or rewritten by attorney general

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405

Petition sponsors

Nevada

N.R.S. § 295.009

Petition sponsors

New Mexico

NMSA § 1-17-9

Petition sponsors, with approval by secretary of state

North Dakota

NDCC, 16.1-01-09

Drafted by secretary of state and approved by attorney general

Ohio

O.R.C. § 3519.01(B)

Petition sponsors, approved by attorney general

Oklahoma

OK Stat. tit. 34, § 1 and 3

The title of the bill being referred is included on the petition, and a “simple statement of the gist of the measure” is printed at the top of the petition (authorship is not specified).

Oregon

O.R.S. § 250.065(4)

Attorney general

South Dakota

SDCL § 2-1-3.1

Petition includes the title of the referred law.

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-7-303

The title of the act subject to the petition appears on the petition.

Washington

RCWA § 29A.72.060 and .120

Attorney general

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-407

Secretary of state

Statutes on Petition Contents

States include a range of requirements for petition format and contents including legal warnings, serial numbers provided by officials, notarization, date of the election the measure is to be voted upon, the measure’s full text, summary, the district or county where the signature was gathered, if the circulator is paid, fiscal analysis, affidavit of circulator, circulator information, rights of the potential signer, names of proponents or proponent organization and deadline for signatures. Statutes for petition contents for each state are:

  • Alaska: AS § 15.45.320 and .330
  • Arizona: Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(9) and A.R.S. § 19-101(A)
  • Arkansas: A.C.A. § 7-9-105 and -106
  • California: Elec. Code § 9007 et. seq
  • Colorado: CRS § 1-40-105 and -110
  • Idaho: I.C. § 34-1801a, § 34-1804
  • Maine: 21-A MRSA § 901, 903
  • Maryland: Const. Art. XVI, § 4 and Elec. Law § 6-201 and -202
  • Massachusetts: Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 3 and MGL ch. 54, § 22A
  • Michigan: MM.C.L.A. 168.482
  • Missouri: Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.030 and .050
  • Montana: MCA 13-27-201, -202 and -205
  • Nebraska: Const. Art. 3, §3; NRS § 32-1402 and -1403
  • Nevada: Const. Art. 19, § 3; N.R.S. § 295.009
  • New Mexico: NMSA § 1-17-2 and -5
  • North Dakota: NDCC § 16.1-01-09
  • Ohio: Const. Art. II, § 1g; O.R.C. § 3519.01 and 3519.05(C)
  • Oklahoma: OK Stat. tit. 34, § 1
  • Oregon: O.R.S. § 250.052; § 250.045
  • South Dakota: SDCL § 2-1-3
  • Utah: Utah Code § 20A-7-303
  • Washington: RCWA § 29A.72.100
  • Wyoming: Const. Art. III, § 52(c); Wyo Stat. § 22-24-407.

Circulators

Individuals who physically gather signatures are referred to as circulators.

General Requirements

Every state includes requirements for the circulators operating in the state. Most common are requirements that they be at least 18 years of age, a citizen, a registered voter and/or a resident of the state.

State

18

Years Old

Citizen

Qualified to Register

State Resident

Registered

Voter

Not Allowed

Alaska

 

Yes

Yes

 

Yes

 

 

Arizona

 

 

 

 

Yes

County recorder or justice of the peace. Cannot have had a penalty for violation of title 16 (election laws) or title 19 (initiative and referendum laws) in the past five years, been convicted of treason or a felony and has not been restored to civil rights, or been convicted of any offense related to fraud, forgery or identity theft.

Arkansas

Yes

 

 

 

 

Cannot have been found guilty of a criminal felony or a violation of election laws, fraud, forgery or identification theft

California

Yes

 

 

 

 

 

Colorado

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

 

Idaho

Yes

 

 

Yes

 

 

Maine

 

 

 

Yes

Yes

 

Maryland

Yes

 

 

 

 

 

Massachusetts

 

 

 

 

 

No requirements specified

Michigan

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

 

Missouri

Yes

 

 

 

 

Cannot have been convicted of or pled guilty to crimes involving forgery

Montana

 

 

 

Yes

 

 

Nebraska

Yes

 

 

 

 

 

Nevada

Yes

 

 

 

 

 

New Mexico

 

 

 

 

 

No requirements specified

North Dakota

Yes

 

 

 

Yes

 

Ohio

Yes

 

 

Yes

 

 

Oklahoma

Yes

 

 

 

 

 

Oregon

 

 

 

 

 

Cannot in the last five years have been convicted of a crime involving fraud, forgery or identification theft or subject to a civil penalty due to an election offense.

South Dakota

Yes

 

 

Yes

 

No registered sex offender may circulate a petition unless the person is in the employ of and under the immediate supervision of another person and under circumstances which preclude any contact with children.

Utah

Yes

 

 

Yes

 

 

Washington

 

 

 

 

Yes

 

Wyoming

Yes

Yes

 

 

 

 

For citation information, please contact the NCSL Elections and Redistricting Team.

Four states require training for circulators:

  • Arkansas (A.C.A. § 7-9-601)
  • California (Elec. Code § 9607)
  • Colorado (C.R.S. § 1-40-112; § 1-40-135)
  • Oregon (OR Rev. Stat. § 250.048)

Affadavits or Sworn Oaths

Twenty-two states (all except Massachusetts) require circulators or proponents to sign affidavits or other sworn statements as to the accuracy or authenticity of the petitions.

  • Alaska (AS § 15.45.1360)
  • Arizona (Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(9) and A.R.S. § 19-112)
  • Arkansas (Const. Art. 5 § 1)
  • California (Elections Code §§ 104, 9022)
  • Colorado (Const. Art. V, § 1(6) and C.R.S. § 1-40-111)
  • Idaho (I.C. § 34-1807)
  • Maine (21-A MRS § 902 and 903-A)
  • Maryland (Const. Art. XVI, § 4)
  • Michigan (M.C.L.A. 168.482, 168.544c)
  • Missouri (V.A.M.S. § 116.030)
  • Montana (MCA § 13-27-302)
  • Nebraska (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-630 and -1404)
  • Nevada (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 3; Nev. Rev. Stat. § 295.0575)
  • New Mexico (NMSA § 1-17-5 and -6)
  • North Dakota (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 3; NDCC, 16.1-01-09)
  • Ohio (Const, Art. II, § 1g and O.R.C. § 3501.38)
  • Oklahoma (OK Stat. Tit. 34, § 6)
  • Oregon (O.R.S. § 250.045(10))
  • South Dakota (DCL § 2-1-10)
  • Utah (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-303(3))
  • Washington (RCWA 29A.72.030)
  • Wyoming (W.S.1977 § 22-24-411)

Paying Circulators

Some states place restrictions on how sponsors may pay petition circulators. Five states prohibit sponsors from paying circulators on a per-signature basis. Alaska prohibits payment in excess of $1 per signature. (Note:  This provision was found unconstitutional by a superior court judge, affirmed by the state supreme court in August 2020.) Bans on payment-per-signature have met with mixed results in the courts. Federal courts have invalidated payment-per-signature bans in Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Mississippi, Ohio and Washington. However, the bans in North Dakota and Oregon were upheld by federal circuit courts.

Information on states that restrict payment to circulators are below.

State

Citation

Payment Restrictions

Alaska

AS § 15.45.340(b)

Circulators may not receive payment greater than $1 per signature. (Note: This provision was found unconstitutional in July 2020 by a Superior Court judge and was later affirmed Aug. 31, 2020 by the state supreme court.)

Arizona

ARS § 19-118.01

Payment on a per-signature basis prohibited

Montana

MCA § 13-27-102

Payment on a per-signature basis prohibited

North Dakota

ND Cent. Code § 16.1-01-12(1)(j)

Payment on a per-signature basis prohibited

Oregon

Const. Art. IV, § 1b

Payment on a per-signature basis prohibited

South Dakota

SDCL § 12-13-28

Payment on a per-signature basis prohibited; bonuses based on reliability, longevity and productivity are permitted.

Signatures

To place a popular referendum on the ballot, sponsors must gather signatures on petitions. The states vary in the number and the baseline used to determine the number of signatures required. Some of the states also require signatures to be gathered from across the state, although some of these requirements have been found to be unconstitutional. Most states also include requirements for verifying the authenticity of signatures.

Montana, Nebraska and New Mexico have two signature thresholds: The first is sufficient to trigger a referendum vote, and the second, higher amount triggers a referendum vote and also suspends operation of the law in question until the election.

Number of Signatures Required

State

Citation

Signatures Required

Alaska

AS § 15.45.370(2)(A)

10% of total votes cast in previous general election

Arizona

Const. Art. 4, §1, Pt. 1(3) and (7)

5% of votes cast for all candidates for governor in previous election

Arkansas

Const. Art. 5, § 1

6% of total votes cast for the office of governor in the last general election

California

Const. Art. 2, § 9(b)

5% of votes cast for all candidates for governor in the last gubernatorial election

Colorado

C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1(3)

5% of votes cast for secretary of state in last election

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1805

6% of the qualified electors at the time of the last general election

Maine

Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17(1))

10% of the total votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election

Maryland

Const. Art. XVI, § 3

3% of the votes cast for governor at the preceding biennial state election

Massachusetts

Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4

2% of the entire votes cast for governor at the preceding biennial state election

Michigan

Const. Art. II, § 9 and MCL § 168.471

5% of total votes cast for all candidates for governor in the last general election

Missouri

Const. Art. III, § 52(a) and 53

5% of the total vote cast for governor at the last election

Montana

Const. Art. III, § 5(1) and 5(2)

5% of the votes cast for governor at the preceding election; 15% of the votes cast for governor in the preceding election in a majority of legislative districts is required to suspend operation of an act pending the election.

Nebraska

Const. Art. III, § 3 and 4

5% of the whole number of votes cast for governor in the last election. 10% is require to suspend the law prior to the vote.

Nevada

Const. Art. 19, § 1 and NRS § 293.127563

10% of the votes cast in last general election

New Mexico

Const. Art. IV, § 1

10% of the total number of votes cast in the last general election, or 25% to suspend operation of the act until the election

North Dakota*

Const. Art. III, § 4

2% of the residential population according to the last federal decennial census

Ohio

Const. Art. II, § 1c and 1g

6% of the total votes cast for the office of governor in the last election

Oklahoma

Const. Art. V, § 2

5% of votes cast for governor in the last election

Oregon

Const. Art. IV, § 1(3)

4% of the votes cast for all candidates for governor at the last election

South Dakota

Const. Art. 3, § 1 and SDCL § 2-1-5

5% of the total votes cast for governor at the last election

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-7-301

8% of the active voters in the state on Jan. 1 following the last regular general election

Washington

Const. Art. II, § 1(b) and RCW § 29A.72.150

4% of the votes cast for the office of governor at the last election

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52

15% of the total ballots cast in the previous general election

* See also: 2011 N.D. Op.Atty.Gen. No. L-04, 2011 WL 1130010 (July 5, 2011).

Geographic Distribution Requirements

Thirteen of the 23 popular referendum states have geographic distribution requirements for petition signatures. These provisions stipulate that petition signatures must be gathered from multiple parts of the state. They are an effort to ensure that petition signers do not represent just the interests of heavily populated areas. Some of these geographic distribution requirements have been found to be unconstitutional, largely on “one person, one vote” grounds. States with geographic requirements that use entities that are unequal in population, such as counties or even state legislative districts, are more likely to have the requirement challenged in court. Geographic requirements based on U.S. House districts, which must be highly equal in population, have been ruled constitutional.  

State

Citation

Geographic Requirement

Alaska

AS § 15.45.350(2)

Signers must be residents in at least three-fourths of the state house districts, and signatures in each house district must equal in number at least 7% of those who voted in the preceding general election

Arkansas

Ark. Const. Art. V, § 1

3% of total votes cast for the office of governor from at least 15 counties

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1805

6% of the qualified electors at the time of the last general election in at least 18 legislative districts

Maryland

Const. Art. XVI, § 3

Not more than half of signers may be residents of Baltimore City or of one county.

Massachusetts

Const. Amend. Art. 48, Gen. Prov., Pt. 2

No more than one-quarter of signatures may come from a single county

Missouri

Const. Art. III,  § 52(a)

5% in each of two-thirds of the congressional districts

Montana

Const. Art. III, § 5(1)

5% of the vote cast for governor at the preceding election from at least one-third of legislative districts

Nebraska

Neb. Const. Art. III, § 3; Bernbeck v. Gale, 59 F.Supp.3d 949 (2014); 829 F.3d 643, United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit

A requirement for 5% of the registered voters in two-fifths of the counties each was held unconstitutional, but that case was vacated because of an issue of standing.

Nevada

N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada v. Loma (2006); N.R.S. 295.012; 293.127563; Angle v. Miller, 2010, 722 F.Supp.2d 1206

The required signatures must be distributed equally among all of the petition districts (NRS § 295.012 and NRS § 293.127563).

New Mexico

Const. Art. IV, § 1

10% of the votes cast in the last general election in each of three-fourths of the counties, or 25% to suspend operation of the act until the operation

Ohio

OH Const. Art. II, § 1g

3% of the votes cast for the office of governor in the last election in half of the counties

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-7-301(1)

From at least 15 counties, signatures equal to 8% of the number of active voters in the county on Jan. 1 following the last regular general election.

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52(c)(ii)

15% of the total vote cast in the last election in at least of two-thirds of the counties

Verification

States vary in how they verify the collected signatures. Some states do not specify a method for verification. A handful require that each signature be individually verified, including Nebraska (NRS § 32-1409), Ohio (ORC § 3519.15), Oklahoma (OK Stat. Tit. 34, § 6.1) and Utah (Utah Code § 20A-7-306(3) and -306.3).

The following 11 states use a statistical sampling method to determine if petitions have enough valid signatures:

  • Arizona (A.R.S. § 19-121.01)
  • California (Elec. Code § 9031)
  • Colorado (C.R.S. § 1-40-116)
  • Maryland (Elec. Law § 6-207)
  • Missouri (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.130)
  • Montana (MCA 13-27-303)
  • Nevada (Const. Art. 19, § 3)
  • North Dakota (ND Cent. Code § 16.1-01-10)
  • Oregon (ORS § 250.105)
  • South Dakota (SDCL § 2-1-16)
  • Washington (RCW § 29A.72.230)

Withdrawal of a Signature

Eleven of the popular referendum states specify a procedure by which a person may withdraw their signature from a petition. In most states, this must be done on or before the date the petition is submitted for verification and is done by filing a form with election officials.

  • Alaska (AS § 15.45.350)
  • Arizona (ARS § 19-113)
  • California (Elec. Code § 103 and 9602)
  • Colorado (CRS § 1-40-109(3))
  • Idaho (IC § 34-1803B)
  • Maryland (Elec. Law § 6-203(c))
  • Missouri (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.110)
  • Montana (MCA  § 13-27-301(3))
  • Nevada (NRS § 295.055)
  • Ohio (ORC §  3501.38(H))
  • Utah (Utah Code § 20A-7-305)

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

The timelines for signature gathering for popular referenda differ significantly from those for initiatives. First, they tend to be much shorter—an average of 90 days. Also, instead of being based on the date of the election, deadlines for filing popular referendum petitions are generally based either on the day the legislature adjourns or on the date the bill that is the subject of the referendum was signed by the governor. Seven states (Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio and Oregon) allow sponsors extra time to gather additional signatures if the petitions submitted are insufficient.

Timeline and Submission Deadlines for Collecting Signatures

State

Citation

Timeline

Alaska

AS § 15.45.370(2) and .400

Petitions must be filed within 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session at which the act was passed. If petitions are insufficient, sponsors may circulate and file a supplementary petition within 10 days of the date that notice was given if 90 days have not expired after the adjournment of the legislative session at which the act was passed.

Arizona

Const. Art. IV, § 1

Petitions must be filed by 5 p.m. on the 90th day after the applicable legislative session adjourns sine die.

Arkansas

Const. Art. 5, § 1; A.C.A. § 7-9-111

Petitions must be filed 90 days after the final adjournment of the session in which it was passed, except when a recess or adjournment shall be taken temporarily for a longer period than 90 days, in which case such petition shall be filed not later than 90 days after such recess or temporary adjournment. If a petition is declared insufficient but has at least 75% of the required signatures in total and in at least 15 counties, sponsors may have an additional 30 days to gather more signatures.

California

Const. Art. II, § 9(b) and Elec. Code § 9014

Circulation may begin once the attorney general has drafted a circulating title and summary; petition must be submitted within 90 days after the enactment date of the statute.

Colorado

Colo. Const. art. V, § 1(3) and CRS § 1-40-117

Petitions must be submitted not more than 90 days after the final adjournment of the session of the general assembly that passed the bill on which the referendum is demanded. There is a 15-day cure period after a statement of insufficiency is issued by the secretary of state, and proponents may deliver additional signatures during this time.

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1803

Petitions must be filed not more than 60 days after the final adjournment of the legislative session which passed the bill on which the referendum is demanded.

Maine

Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17(1)

Petitions must be submitted by 5 p.m. on or before the 90th day after the recess of the legislature, or if the 90th day is a weekend or holiday, by 5 p.m. on the preceding day  that is not a weekend or holiday.

Maryland

Const. Art. XVI, § 2, 3(b) and 3(d)

Petitions may be signed at any time after an act is passed and must be submitted by June 1. For an act passed less than 45 days before June 1, the first third of the required number of signatures must be submitted within 30 days of the act’s passage, and the time for filing the additional required signatures is extended another 30 days.

Massachusetts

Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4

Petitions must be submitted not more than 90 days after the law which is the subject of the petition has become law.

Michigan

Const. Art. II, § 9 and Mich. Comp. Laws § 168.471

Petitions must be submitted within 90 days following the final adjournment of the legislative session at which the law was enacted.

Missouri

Const. Art. III, § 52(a) and Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.100

Petitions must be submitted no later than 5 p.m. 90 days after the final adjournment of the legislative session.

Montana

Const. Art. III, § 5(1) and MCA § 13-27-301

No later than six months after the adjournment of the legislature which passed the act. This deadline pertains to when counties must submit petitions with verified signatures to the secretary of state. Petitions must be submitted to counties for verification four weeks before this deadline.

Nebraska

Const. Art. III, § 3 and NRS § 32-1407

Petitions must be filed within 90 days after the legislative session at which the law was passed adjourns either sine die or for more than 90 days.

Nevada

Const. Art. 19, § 1 and NRS § 295.045 and .056

Petition must be filed with county officials not later than 15 days following the primary election. Final deadline is not less than 120 days before the next general election.

New Mexico

Const. Art. IV, § 1 and NMSA § 1-17-12

Petitions must be submitted not less than four months prior to the next general election. If petition is insufficient, sponsors have 30 days to solicit and obtain additional signatures, submit proof to show that rejected signatures are valid or make the petition more definite and certain.

North Dakota

Const. Art. III, § 5 and 6; NDCC § 16.1-01-09(7)

Petitions must be submitted by midnight within 90 days of the date the legislation was signed by the governor and filed with the secretary of state. If a petition is insufficient, a period of 20 days is allowed for correction.

Ohio

Const. Art. II, § 1c and 1g; ORC § 3519.16(F)

Petitions must be submitted within 90 days after the law is filed by the governor in the office of the secretary of state. If signatures are determined to be insufficient, an additional 10 days is allowed to gather more signatures.

Oklahoma

Const. Art. V, § 3 and OK Stat. Tit. 34, § 1, § 4 and § 8

Signature gathering begins on a date specified by the secretary of state and cannot be less than 15 or more than 30 days from the date when all appeals and rehearings have been resolved or have expired. Petitions must be submitted by 5 p.m. not more than 90 days after final adjournment of the legislative session at which the bill was passed.

Oregon

Const. Art. IV, § 1(3) and ORS § 250.105

Petitions must be submitted not more than 90 days after the end of the session at which the act was passed. Petitions carried by paid circulators must be filed on a monthly basis. If the petitions were filed at least 165 days before the election and the submission deadline has not passed, and the signatures are deemed insufficient, petitioners may submit more signatures.

South Dakota

SDCL § 2-1-3.1

Petitions must be submitted within 90 days of the adjournment of the legislature which passed the law.

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-7-306(1)

Petitions must be submitted either before 5 p.m. 14 days after the first individual signs the petition or 40 days after the legislative session ends, whichever is earlier.

Washington

Const. Art. II, § 1(d) and RCW § 29A.72.030 and .160

Petitions must be submitted not later than 90 days after the final adjournment of the legislature; if that deadline falls on a Saturday, the office of the secretary of state must be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m..

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52(e) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-412

Within 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session at which it was passed

Campaign Finance

All 23 popular referendum states require political organizations that support or oppose a ballot measure, often considered political action committees, to follow state campaign finance laws. These include filing reports and designating organization officers. The following is not a legal, comprehensive list of every campaign finance law governing the referendum process in each state but is rather a basic summary and starting guide for where to find relevant statutes.

State

Citation

Campaign Finance Requirements

Alaska

AS § 15.13.040(b), 15.13.050, 15.13.110

Registration is required before making an expenditure for or against a ballot measure. A group’s name must include the title or common name of the measure if the group intends to direct more than 50% of its contributions or expenditures toward a single measure. Groups must file reports detailing contributions received in excess of $100 in the aggregate and all other contributions and expenditures made by the group. Reports are due 30 days before the election, one week before the election, 105 days after a special election and on February 15 for all contributions and expenditures not already reported.

Arizona

ARS § 19-905(C), 19-925, 19-206, 19-207

Must file statement of organization as a PAC upon receiving contributions or making expenditures in any combination of at least $1,000 in connection with an election. Disclosure of advertisements is required. Reports of contributions and expenditures are due quarterly in calendar years without elections. In calendar quarters with an election, additional reports are due 10 days before the election and 15 days after the election.

Arkansas

ACA § 9-7-402, 7-9-404

A ballot question committee includes any person, located within or outside Arkansas, who receives contributions or makes expenditures for the purpose of expressly advocating the qualification, disqualification, passage or defeat of any ballot measure. A person also qualifies as a ballot measure committee if 2% or more of its annual revenues, operating expenses or funds are used to make contributions to another ballot measure committee which exceed $10,000 in value. Sponsor or group who receives contributions or spends over $500 for the passage or defeat of the referendum must file a statement of organization as a ballot question committee. Must file monthly financial reports with the Ethics Commission.

California

Govt. Code § 82013, 84101, 84107, 84200, 84200.8, 84202.3 and Elec. Code § 107, 18680

A committee must be formed upon the occurrence of any of the following in a calendar year: receiving $2,000 or more in contributions, , making independent expenditures totaling $1,000 or more or making contributions totaling $10,000 or more. A statement of organization is required. Must include the language “a committee for/against Proposition __” in any reference to the committee required by law. Semiannual statements of contributions and expenditures are due July 31 and January 31. Pre-election statements must be filed 40 and 12 days before the election. Additional statements for ballot measure committees are due April 30 and October 31. Allowable uses of funds by ballot measure committees are specified at Elec. Code § 18680. Committee must create a "top funders sheet" that is included as part of the petition.

Colorado

CRS § 1-40-121, 1-40-135(2), 1-45-108

Must obtain a petition entity license before circulating petitions or paying circulators. Must report contributions received if more than$20 and all expenditures quarterly in off-election years, on the first Monday in May and every two weeks thereafter before the primary election, on the first day of each month beginning with the sixth full month before a major election, on the first Monday in September and on each Monday every two weeks thereafter before the major election, and 30 days after the major election. Designated representatives must, within 10 days of filing a completed petition, file a report containing information about paid circulators and any other expenditures made in relation to circulating petitions.

Idaho

IC § 67-6603, 67-6607, 67-6612

A political committee must have a treasurer before receiving contributions or making expenditures. Political committees must file reports of contributions and expenditures. Reports are monthly during election years and annually in nonelection years. Contributions of $1,000 or more must be reported within 48 hours after receipt. Proponents must file reports of payments made to signature gatherers.

Maine

21-A MRSA § 1051 et. seq

Committees in support or opposition to a ballot measure are treated the same as political action committees. Must file quarterly reports. Considered a committee if individual raises or spends more than $5,000. Any contribution of $500 or more in the last 13 days before an election is to be reported within 24 hours. Must report name and address of donors of $50 or more. Also requires full disclosure of campaign staffers.

Maryland

Elec. Law § 13-202, 13-208, 13-309

All campaign finance activity must be conducted through a campaign finance entity. Petition sponsors may not gather signatures without first forming a ballot issue committee. See Elec. Code § 13-208 for statement of organization. Ballot issue committees must file reports of contributions and expenditures on or before the fourth and second Friday immediately preceding a general election and on or before the second Tuesday after a general election. Additional reports are due on the third Wednesday in January of each year the committee continues in existence. A petition's sponsor must file a campaign finance report at the time a petition is filed under § 6-205, and a committee opposing a ballot measure must file a campaign finance report within 10 business days after the petition is filed under § 6-205.

Massachusetts

MGL ch. 55, § 22

Political committee must file a statement of organization. Disclosure reports must be filed 60 days before the election, on the fifth and 20th day of each month until the election, the 20th day of November after the election and the 20th of January each year.

Michigan

MCL § 169.224, MCL § 169.234

A committee must file a statement of organization within 10 days of its organization; must include a brief statement identifying the substance of each ballot question supported or opposed by the committee. Campaign statements must be filed by the 11th day before the election, the 30th day after the election, April 25 and July 25 every year and October 25 in odd-numbered years. A statement must be filed by a ballot issue committee supporting or opposing a measure not more than 35 days after the petition is filed.

Missouri

Mo.Rev.Stat. § 130.021, 130.046

Must file a statement of organization within 20 days of becoming a committee. Reports of contributions and expenditures must be filed no later than the eighth day before the election, the 30th day after an election and the 15th day following the close of each calendar quarter. Ballot measure committees must also provide an initial disclosure report 15 days after the committee begins raising or spending money, with subsequent quarterly reports until the pre-election report is due. A report is also due no later than the 15th day after the deadline for filing the referendum petition.

Montana

MCA § 13-27-112, 13-37-226

A person, committee or political party that pays signature gatherers is required to file the same financial disclosures required under Title 13, Chapter 37. Reports of expenditures and contributions received are required quarterly in nonelection years and monthly, March through November, in election years. Reports of contributions and expenditures of $500 or more must be made within two days between the 25th day of the month before an election and the day of the election.

Nebraska

NRS § 32-1406, 49-1401

There is a principal circulator whose information is publicly available upon request. Persons involved in a statewide initiative or referendum process are subject to the provisions of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act. Records must be kept of contributions and expenditures. If raising more than $5,000 in a year, the entity must register as a ballot question committee. When formed as a ballot question committee, it must file campaign statements and other forms with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, all on a set timeline.

Nevada

NRS § 294A.220, 294A.230

In order to receive contributions or make expenditures in excess of $1,500 in a calendar year, groups must form a committee for political action and register with the secretary of state. The committee must report on Jan. 15 of an election year all expenditures in excess of $1,000 or cumulative expenditures to one recipient in excess of $1,000 in the previous calendar year. Same must also be reported quarterly on April 15, July 15, Oct. 15 and Jan.15.

New Mexico

NMSA § 1-19-26.1, 1-19-28

Political committees must file a statement of organization. Reports of contributions and expenditures are due by the 15th of every April and October. In election years, instead of biannual reports, reports are due no later than the second Monday in April, May, September and October, and no later than the Thursday before an election. Contributions greater than $3,000 that are received after filing the pre-election report must be reported within 24 hours of receipt. A post-election report is due by Jan. 7.

North Dakota

NDCC 16.1-01-12(1)(j), 16.1-08.1-02, 16.1-08-03

Sponsoring committee must file a statement of renumeration prior to circulating signatures if circulators will be paid. The following contribution and expenditure statements must be electronically filed: drafting statement, filed at the time approval is requested to circulate petition; circulating statement, filed at the time petitions are submitted for signature verification; pre-election statement, filed between the 39th and 31st day prior to the election; and year-end statement, filed by Jan. 31 of the year following the election.

Ohio

ORC § 3517.10

Prior to receiving a contribution or making an expenditure, a campaign must designate a treasurer by filing with the secretary of state. Reports of contributions and expenditures are due on the 12th day before an election, the 38th day after an election and the last business day of January and July of every year.

Oklahoma

Ethics Commission rules 2.79, 2.80, 2.103, 2.109, 2.122

A committee formed to support or oppose a ballot measure must register by filing a statement of organization with the Ethics Commission when its contributions or expenditures exceed $1,000. Reports of contributions and expenditures are due on a quarterly basis. Reports of State Question Communications are required if aggregate expenses for a communication made at least 15 days before the election equal to exceed $5,000. During the 14 days before the election, reports of any communication exceeding $5,000 in the aggregate are due within one business day.

Oregon

ORS § 260.035, 260.057

Within three days of making an expenditure or receiving a contribution, a political committee must file a statement of organization and designate a treasurer. Electronic reports of contributions and expenditures must be filed according to a specified schedule.

South Dakota

SDCL § 12-27-3, 12-27-18.2, 12-27-22

Statement of organization must be filed not later than 15 days after the committee made or received contributions or paid expenses in excess of $500. If such activity occurs within 30 days of an election, a statement must be filed within 48 hours. Contributions from nonresidents of the state, political committees organized outside the state or an entity that is not filed with the secretary of state for four years preceding the contribution are prohibited. Ballot measure committees must file pre-primary, pre-general, year-end and, if applicable, supplemental reports in even-numbered years. In odd-numbered years, year-end reports are required.

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-11-801 and 20A-11-802

Must file a statement of organization as a political issues committee no later than seven days after receiving contributions or making expenditures totaling at least $750, and annually by 5 p.m. on Jan.  10 thereafter, unless it has filed a notice of dissolution. Statements of contributions and expenditures must be filed on Jan. 10, seven days before political party conventions, seven days before the primary, three days before public hearings, on Sept.  30 and seven days before the general election.

Washington

RCW § 42.17A.205, 42.17A.235, 42.17A.250, 42.17A.260, 42.17A.265

Must file a statement of organization as a political committee within two weeks of organizing or within two weeks of the date the first contribution or expenditure is expected. Reports of contributions and expenditures are due on the 21st and seventh days immediately preceding an election and the 10th day of the first full month after an election. Monthly reports are due on the 10th for any preceding month in which total contributions received or total expenditures made exceed $200. Out-of-state committees that make expenditures supporting or opposing ballot propositions in Washington are required to file reports. Sponsors of advertising must file a report within 24 hours of the time the advertisement is published, mailed or otherwise revealed to the public if the advertisement qualifies as an independent expenditure or has a fair market value or actual cost of $1,000 or more. Contributions of $1,000 or more from a single contributor received during the 21 days prior to the election must be reported.

Wyoming

Wyo. Stat. § 22-25-101, 22-25-106

Must file a statement of formation as a political action committee within 10 days of formation. Reports of contributions received and expenditures made must be filed at least seven days before any primary, special or general election.

Ballot Access and Preparation

States decide how the ballot title and summary are created and any requirements for the wording of the measure on the ballot.  

Ballot Title and Summary

State

Citation

Who Titles and Summarizes for Ballot

Alaska

Const. Art. XI, § 5 and AS § 15.45.410

Lieutenant governor

Arizona

A.R.S. § 19-125

The official title of the bill that is subject to the referendum appears on the ballot. The descriptive title, which is printed below the official title on the ballot, is written by the secretary of state with the approval of the attorney general.

Arkansas

A.C.A. § 7-9-111

The same ballot title and popular name that appeared on petitions (drafted by sponsors) is submitted by the secretary of state to the board of canvassers for certification.

California

Elec. Code § 9050

Attorney general

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 1-40-106

The same title drafted by the title board in the pre-qualification is used on the ballot.

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1810(1)(b)

Prepared jointly by the secretary of state and attorney general

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A. Ch. 11, § 905-A and 906

Secretary of state

Maryland

Const. Art. XVI, § 5(b) and Elec. Law § 7-103(c)

Full text is printed on ballot if it is 200 words or less; if it is more than 200 words, the secretary of state drafts a title. The title may be different from the legislative title, but in all cases the legislative title shall be sufficient.

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. Ch. 54 § 53

Secretary of the commonwealth and attorney general jointly

Michigan

M.C.L.A. § 168.32(2)

Director of elections, with approval of the state board of canvassers, drafts a statement of purpose of not more than 100 words for the ballot.

Missouri

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 116.025

Secretary of state and approved by attorney general

Montana

MCA § 13-27-312

A statement of purpose and implication, not to exceed 135 words, and yes-no statements are drafted by petitioners and reviewed and approved by the attorney general. These serve as the ballot title.

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1410

Attorney general

Nevada

N.R.S. § 295.045

The title of the statute or resolution that is the subject of the referendum is printed on the ballot.

New Mexico

NMSA § 1-17-9

Proponents submit a suggested popular name, to be approved or disapproved by the secretary of state.

North Dakota

NDCC § 16.1-01-09

Unclear; it seems likely that the same statement drafted by the secretary of state and approved by the attorney general for the petition also appears on the ballot, but this is not specified.

Ohio

O.R.C. § 3519.21

Secretary of state

Oklahoma

34 OK Stat. § 8 and 9

Proponents draft and submit a ballot title in their original filing. The secretary of state submits the title to the attorney general for approval when signed petitions are filed for verification. The attorney general may approve the title or revise as necessary to comply with the law.

Oregon

O.R.S. § 250.065

Attorney general

South Dakota

SDCL § 12-13-25.1

Unclear; the statute describing the titling process by the attorney general specifically mentions initiative measures and constitutional initiatives but does not mention popular referenda.

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-7-308

Lieutenant governor forwards petitions that are qualified for the ballot to the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, which drafts an impartial title of not more than 100 words summarizing the contents of the proposal. The ballot title may be distinct from the title of the law that is the subject of the petition.

Washington

RCWA 29A.72.060

Attorney general

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52(e)

Secretary of state

Wording of Ballot Question and Effect of "Yes" Vote

States vary in the way popular referendum questions are posed. In some states, the question is worded such that a “yes” vote is in favor of the law subject to referendum, while in others, a “yes” vote is in favor of repealing the law that is the subject of the referendum.

State

Citation

Wording of Ballot Question and Effect of “Yes” Vote

Alaska

AS § 15.45.410(b)

A “yes” vote rejects the referred act.

Arizona

A.R.S. § 19-125(D)

A “yes” vote approves the referred act.

Arkansas

No statute found; used Referred Act 1 (Nov. 1994) as a reference

A “yes” vote approves the referred act.

California

No statute found; see www.sos.ca.gov/

elections/ballot-

measures/

referendum

A “yes” vote approves the referred act, and a “no” vote rejects it.

Colorado

No statute found; used Prop. 113 (Nov. 2020) as a reference

A “yes” vote approves the referred act.

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1810(1)(b)

The ballot must include a clear and concise statement as to the effect of a “yes” or “no” vote.

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A. Ch. 11, § 906(6)(B)

The secretary of state must write the question in a clear, concise and direct manner that describes the subject matter of the people’s veto or direct initiative as simply as is possible (MRS tit. 21-A, ch. 11 § 906(6)(B)).

Maryland

Const. Art. XVI, § 5(b)

Upon each of the ballots, following the ballot title or text, the words “For the referred law” and “Against the referred law,” must appear.

Massachusetts

Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI

This wording must be used: “Shall a law (here insert description, and state, in distinctive type, whether approved or disapproved by the general court and by what vote thereon) be approved?”

Michigan

No statute found; see Michigan Manual 2009-2010, p. IX-2

A “yes” vote approves the referred act.

Missouri

Mo.Rev. Stat. § 116.025

Secretary of state drafts ballot language that fairly and accurately explains what a vote for and what a vote against the measure represent; approved by attorney general.

Montana

No statute found; used IR 124 (Nov. 2012) as a reference

A “yes” vote approves the referred act.

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1410(2)

The ballot title must be worded so that those in favor of retaining the measure shall vote “retain,” and those opposing the measure shall vote “repeal.”

Nevada

N.R.S. § 295.045

The question printed on the ballot must be: “Shall the statute (setting out its title) be approved?”

New Mexico

1950 Op. Att'y Gen. No. 50-5315

The ballot for voting on a referred act should bear the following instructions at the top: “Instructions to voters. If you desire to vote for the retention of the act, mark X in square opposite the words 'FOR APPROVAL OF THE ACT.' If you desire to vote against the retention of the act, mark X in the square opposite the words 'FOR REJECTION OF THE ACT.'”

North Dakota

No statute found; used Referendum Measure 4 (2012 primary) as a reference

A “yes” vote approves the referred act.

Ohio

No statute found; used Issue 2 (Nov. 2011) as a reference

A “yes” vote approves the referred act.

Oklahoma

34 OK Stat § 1

Ballot language reads as follows: “Shall the following bill of the legislature ... be approved?”

Oregon

No statute found; used Measure 101 (Nov. 2018) as a reference

A “yes” vote approves the referred act.

South Dakota

No statute found; used Referred Laws 19 and 20 (Nov. 2016) as reference

A “yes” vote approves the referred act.

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-7-309

A voter desiring to vote in favor of the law that is the subject of the referendum shall mark the square adjacent to the word "For" (Utah Code § 20A-7-309).

Washington

RCW § 29A.72.050(5)

The wording on the ballot must read: The legislature passed . . . Bill No. . . . concerning (statement of subject) and voters have filed a sufficient referendum petition on this bill. This bill would (concise description). Should this bill be: Approved . . . Rejected . . . ”

Wyoming

No statute found; used Term Limits Referendum (Nov. 1996) as a reference.

A “yes” vote rejects the referred act.

The Election and Effect

The requirements for an election with statewide ballot measures vary by state. States also decide which election a ballot measure will be voted on and any time restrictions before a measure is placed on a ballot. In some states, the legislature or governor may order a special election for a measure.

Which Election and Time Restrictions (if any)

In all states, a qualified popular referendum may be placed on the ballot in a statewide general election. Nine states (Arkansas, California, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Washington) also allow referenda on special election ballots. Six states (California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio and Wyoming) require a certain number of days, ranging from 30 to 180, to pass between the date the petition qualifies and the election.

State

Citation

Election

Alaska

Const. Art. XI, § 5

The first statewide election held more than 180 days after adjournment of the session during which the act was passed

Arizona

Const. Art. IV, § 1(10)

Next regular general election

Arkansas

Const. Art. V § 1

Regular election (state, congressional or municipal) or a special election called by proper official or when 15% of voters petition for one

California

Const. Art. II, § 9(c)

Next general election at least 31 days after the measure qualifies or at a special statewide election held prior to that general election; the governor may call a special statewide election for the measure.

Colorado

Const. Art. V, § 1(4)(a)

Biennial regular general election

Idaho

I. C. § 34-1803

Biennial regular election

Maine

Const. Art. IV, Pt. 3, § 17(3)

Next statewide or general election, whichever comes first that is not less than 60 days after the petition is submitted

Maryland

Const. Art. XVI, § 2

At the next ensuing election held throughout the state for members of the U.S. House of Representatives

Massachusetts

Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4

Next state election, if 60 days intervene between the date when such petition is filed and the date for holding such state election; if that is less than 60 days, then the law must be submitted to the people at the next state election, unless it is repealed before then.

Michigan

Const. Art. II, § 9

Next general election

Missouri

Const. Art. III, § 52(b)

General election, or at a special election ordered by the general assembly

Montana

Const. Art. III, § 6

General election unless the legislature orders a special election.

Nebraska

Const. Art. III, § 3, Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-1411

First general election to be held not less than 30 days after the filing of the petition.

Nevada

Const. Art. 19, § 1

Next succeeding election at which the question may be voted upon by the voters of the entire state.

New Mexico

Const. Art. IV, § 1

Next general election

North Dakota

Const. Art. III, § 5

Statewide election or a special election called by the governor

Ohio

Const. Art. II, § 1c

Next regular or general election that occurs 125 days after filing

Oklahoma

Const. Art. V, § 3 and OK Stat. Tit. 34, § 25

Next statewide election unless a special election is called by the legislature or the governor for the express purpose of considering a referendum

Oregon

Const. Art. IV, § 1(4)

Regular election unless otherwise ordered by the legislative assembly

South Dakota

SDCL § 2-1-17

General election

Utah

Utah Code § 20A-7-301(1)

Next regular general election or a special election called by the lieutenant governor

Washington

Const. Art. II, § 1(d) and RCW § 29A.72.030

Next succeeding general election, unless the legislature orders a special election

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52(e) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-416

First statewide election held more than 180 days after adjournment of the legislative session

Passage Requirements

All 23 popular referendum states require a simple majority to pass a popular referendum. Five states impose an additional threshold. These states require that in addition to receiving a majority of the votes cast on the measure, those votes must be equal to or more than a specified percentage of the total votes cast in the election. This ensures that measures are not passed by a small minority of voters, either because of a low turnout election or ballot-drop off (where voters only vote partway through a ballot). The details for those states are below:

  • Massachusetts: at least 30% (Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4).
  • Nebraska: not less than 35% (Const. Art. III, § 4).
  • New Mexico: at least 40% (Const. Art. IV, § 1).
  • Washington: equal to one-third (Const. Art. II, § 1(d)).
  • Wyoming: in excess of 50% (Const. Art. 3, § 52(f)).

Repeal or Change Restrictions

Five states limit the legislature’s ability to amend or repeal a law after it has been approved by voters. Michigan’s constitution explicitly grants the legislature the power to amend laws approved by the people by referendum at any time (Const. Art. II, § 9).

State

Citation

Repeal and Amendment Restrictions

Arizona

A.R.S. Const. Art. 4 § 1, Part 1(6B), (6C) and (6D)

The legislature shall not have the power to repeal a referendum measure passed by a majority of the voters. Amending or diverting funds from a referendum measure requires a three-fourths vote of the members of each house of the legislature, and the amendment must further the purposes of the measure.

Arkansas

Arkansas Const. Art. 5 § 1

Two-thirds vote to amend or repeal

Nevada

NV Secretary of State

Can only be changed by a vote of the people

North Dakota

NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 8

Two-thirds vote (or majority after seven years)

Washington

Const. Art. 2, § 1

Two-thirds vote (or majority after two years)

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 Alaska

AK flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: The referendum shall not be applied to dedications of revenue, appropriations, local or special legislation, or to laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety (Const. Art. XI, § 7 and AS § 15.45.250). The veto power may be exercised only against entire bills, and it may not be exercised upon sections of bills except in the case of appropriation bills (1963 Alas. Op. Att'y Gen. No. 18).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: In some cases, yes. Under the constitution, an act takes effect 90 days after it is enacted. The legislature can provide for a different effective date with a two-thirds vote of the membership of each house (Const. Art. II, § 18).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Application containing the act to be referred and signed by at least 100 qualified voters is filed with the lieutenant governor. If he finds it in proper form, he shall so certify. Denial of certification shall be subject to judicial review (Const. Art. XI, § 2). Application must include act to be referred; statement of approval or rejection; printed name, signature, address and numerical identifier of not less than 100 qualified voters who will serve as sponsors; the designation of a referendum committee consisting of three sponsors who will represent all sponsors and subscribers in matters relating to the referendum. A deposit of $100 is required; deposit is refunded if the petition is properly filed and retained if it is not properly filed (AS § 15.45.260 and .270). The lieutenant governor has seven calendar days after receiving the application to certify or deny it (AS § 15.45.300). Grounds for denial are improper form, insufficient sponsors, or more than 90 days have passed since adjournment of the session (AS § 14.45.310).
  • Where to file: Lieutenant governor (Const. Art. XI, § 2 and AS § 15.45.260).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Application must designate a committee of three sponsors who will represent all sponsors and subscribers in matters relating to the referendum (AS § 15.45.270).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Registration is required prior to making an expenditure for or against a ballot measure; group name must include the title or common name of the measure if the group intends to make more than 50% of its contributions or expenditures toward a single measure (AS § 15.13.050). Groups must file reports detailing contributions received in excess of $100 in the aggregate and all contributions and expenditures made by the group (AS § 15.13.040(b)). Reports are due 30 days before the election, one week before the election, 105 days after a special election and Feb. 15 for all contributions and expenditures not already reported (AS § 15.13.110).
  • Withdrawal of petition: None specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Lieutenant governor (Const. Art. XI, § 3 and AS § 15.45.320(5)).
  • What is on each petition: A copy of the act to be referred if the number of words is 500 or fewer; the statement of approval or rejection; a statement of the minimum costs to the state associated with certification of the application and review of the petition, excluding legal costs and costs associated with any challenge to the validity of the petition; an estimate of the cost to the state of voter approval or rejection; an impartial summary of the subject matter of the act; a statement of warning prescribed in AS § 15.45.330; sufficient space for the printed name, numeric identifier, signature, date of signature, and address of each person signing the petition; and other specifications prescribed by the lieutenant governor to ensure proper handling and control (AS  § 15.45.320).
  • Who creates petitions: Lieutenant governor (Const. Art. XI, § 3).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: U.S. citizens, 18 years of age or older and a resident of the state as determined by AS 15.05.020 (AS § 15.45.335).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (AS § 15.45.360).
  • Paid per signature: Circulators may not receive payment greater than $1 per signature (AS § 15.45.340(b)).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (AS § 15.45.340(c)).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 10% of those who voted in the preceding general election (AS § 15.45.370(2)(A)).
  • Geographic distribution: Signers must be from at least three-fourths of the state’s house districts, and signatures in each house district must equal at least 7% of those who voted in the preceding general election in the house district (AS § 15.45.350(2)).
  • Who can sign the petition: Any qualified voter (AS § 15.45.350).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (AS  § 15.45.340(a)).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: By giving written notice to the lieutenant governor before the date the petition is filed (AS § 15.45.350).
  • Verification: Lieutenant governor verifies the total number of signatures and qualification of the signers, and that there are sufficient signers who are resident in three-fourths of the house districts (AS § 15.45.160).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Within 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session in which the act was passed (AS § 15.45.370(2)).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: Upon notice that the petition was improperly filed, sponsors may amend and correct the petition by circulating and filing a supplementary petition within 10 days of the date that notice was given if 90 days have not expired after the adjournment of the legislative session in which the act was passed (AS § 15.45.400).

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: The first statewide election held more than 180 days after adjournment of the session during which the act was passed (Const. Art. XI, § 5).
  • Ballot title and summary: Lieutenant governor drafts a title which is limited to 25 words and must indicate the general subject area of the act and a "proposition" of not more than 50 words for each section that gives a true and impartial summary of the act being referred (Const. Art. XI, § 5 and AS § 15.45.410).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: There must be more than 180 days between the adjournment of the session during which the act was passed and the election at which it is considered (Const. Art. XI, § 5).

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (AS § 15.45.220).
  • Timeline for taking effect: An act rejected by referendum is void 30 days after certification. (Const. Art. XI, § 6 and AS § 15.45.440).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Arizona

AZ flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1912.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Laws immediately necessary for the preservation of the public peace, health, or safety, or for the support and maintenance of the departments of the state government and state institutions are not subject to the referendum (Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(3)).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: No. To allow opportunity for referendum petitions, no act passed by the legislature shall be operative for 90 days after the close of the session of the legislature enacting such measure. The filing of a referendum petition against any item, section, or part of any measure shall not prevent the remainder of such measure from becoming operative. (Const. Art. 4, §1, Pt. 1(3)).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Application is filed on a form provided by the secretary of state and must contain the sponsor's name, or if an organization, the names and titles of its officers; address; intent to circulate and file a petition; a description of no more than 100 words of the principal provisions of the measure and the full text, in no less than 8-point font; and application for an official serial number. The secretary assigns an official serial number to the petition and assigns numbers to petitions in numerical sequence (ARS § 19-111).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (ARS § 19-111).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Application includes sponsor’s name, or if an organization, the names and titles of its officers, and an address (ARS § 19-111).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Must file statement of organization as a PAC upon receiving contributions or making expenditures in any combination of at least $1,000 in connection with an election (ARS § 19-905(C)). Disclosure of advertisements is required (ARS § 19-925). Reports of contributions and expenditures are due quarterly in calendar years without elections. In calendar quarters with an election, additional reports are due 10 days before the election and 15 days after the election (ARS § 16-926 and -927).
  • Withdrawal of petition: No process specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Sponsors draft title (ARS § 19-101(A)).
  • What is on each petition: Petition is addressed to the secretary of state and must contain for each petitioner a declaration that he is a qualified elector, address and date of signature. The full title and text of the measure must be attached to each signature sheet (Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(9)). Must include a warning about unlawful signing, a circulator affidavit and a notification as to whether the circulator is paid or volunteer. Signatures gathered in violation of these requirements are void (ARS § 19-101(A)).
  • Who creates petitions: Not specified.

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be qualified to register to vote pursuant to § 16-101. Justices of the peace and county recorders may not circulate petitions (ARS § 19-114). A person may not be a circulator who has had a penalty for violation of title 16 (election laws) or title 19 (initiative and referendum laws) in the past five years, has been convicted of treason or a felony and has not been restored to civil rights, or has been convicted of any offense related to fraud, forgery or identity theft (ARS § 16-114(D). Non-resident circulators and all paid circulators must register with the secretary of state before circulating petitions; it is the sponsoring committee's responsibility to collect and submit the completed registrations. Registration must include the circulator's full name, residence address, phone number and email address; the petition for which the circulator will gather signatures; a statement that the circulator consents to the jurisdiction of the courts of Arizona in resolving any disputes concerning the circulation of petitions by the circulator; the address of the committee in Arizona for whom the circulator works and will accept service of process related to disputes; a notarized affidavit by the circulator (ARS § 16-118).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes. Petitions with an incomplete or modified affidavit are invalid (Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(9) and ARS § 19-112).
  • Paid per signature: A person shall not pay or receive money or any other thing of value based on the number of signatures collected on a statewide initiative or referendum petition.  Signatures that are obtained by a paid circulator who violates this section are void and shall not be counted in determining the legal sufficiency of the petition. Violation is a class 1 misdemeanor (ARS § 19-118.01).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Giving or receiving money or anything of value for signing a petition or a statement of signature withdrawal is a class 1 misdemeanor (ARS § 19-113(D) and -114.01).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 5% of the number of votes cast for all candidates for governor in the last general election (Const. Art. 4, §1, Pt. 1(3) and (7)).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors (Const. Art. 4, Pt. 1).
  • Geographic distribution: None.
  • Collected in-person: Not specified.
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Signature may be withdrawn not later than 5 p.m. on the date the petition containing the person's signature is filed by signing a statement of intent to withdraw at the secretary of state's office, mailing a signed, notarized statement of intent to the secretary of state or drawing a line through the signature and printed name (ARS § 19-113)
  • Verification: A random sample of 5% of the signatures is verified by county recorders (ARS § 19-121.01(B)).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Must be filed within 90 days of when the applicable legislative session adjourns sine die (AZ Const. Art. IV, § 1, Pt. 1(4)).
  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Once the petition is approved and a serial number is issued, sponsors have until 5 p.m. on the 90th day after the legislature session adjourns.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next regular general election (Const. Art. IV, § 1(10).
  • Ballot title and summary: The official title of the bill that is subject to the referendum appears on the ballot. The descriptive title, which is printed below the official title on the ballot, is written by the secretary of state with the approval of the attorney general (ARS § 19-125).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(5)).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Effective upon the governor's proclamation of the vote (Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(5)).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: The legislature shall not have the power to repeal a referendum measure passed by a majority of the voters (Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(6B)). Amending or diverting funds from a referendum measure requires a three-fourths vote of the members of each house of the legislature, and the amendment must further the purposes of the measure (Const. Art. 4, § 1, Pt. 1(6C) and (6D)).

 Arkansas

AR flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1910.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: None.
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Any measure referred to the people by referendum petition shall remain in abeyance until such vote is taken; the filing of a referendum petition against one or more items, sections or parts of any act shall not delay the remainder from becoming operative. If a referendum is filed against an emergency measure, it remains in effect until it is voted on by the people (Const. Art. 5, § 1).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: The sponsor must file a printed petition part with the secretary of state in the exact form that will be used for signature gathering (A.C.A. § 7-9-105). Must include full text of the measure, a ballot title and a popular name (A.C.A. § 7-9-107).
  • Where to file: State Board of Election Commissioners (Const. Art. 5, § 1).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: None specified.
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: A ballot question committee includes any person, located within or outside Arkansas, who receives contributions or makes expenditures for the purpose of expressly advocating the qualification, disqualification, passage or defeat of any ballot measure. A person also qualifies as a ballot measure committee if 2% or more of its annual revenues, operating expenses or funds are used to make contributions to another ballot measure committee which exceed $10,000 in value (ACA § 9-7-402). Sponsor or group who receives contributions or spends over $500 for the passage or defeat of the referendum must file a statement of organization as a ballot question committee. Must file monthly financial reports with Ethics Commission (A.C.A. § 7-9-404).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Sponsors draft title (Const. Art. 5, § 1 and ACA § 7-9-107).
  • What is on each petition: Sponsors create petitions pursuant to guidelines in statute. Original title of the act that is subject to the referendum is included (A.C.A. § 7-9-105). Full text of the measure must be attached (A.C.A. § 7-9-106).
  • Who creates petitions: Sponsors (A.C.A. § 7-9-105).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: According to secretary of state's I&R Handbook, circulators must be at least 18 years old but do not have to be state residents. Paid circulators must provide to the petition sponsor the circulator’s full name and any assumed names, current residence address, a signed statement verifying the person has not been found guilty of a criminal felony or a violation of election laws, fraud, forgery or identification theft, a signed statement that the person has read and understands Arkansas laws relevant to petitions and a signed statement that the person has received a copy of the Initiative and Referendum Handbook. Petition sponsor must provide training and must provide to the secretary of state a current list of all paid canvassers' names and residence addresses. Secretary of state conducts, at sponsor's expense, a state and federal criminal records check for each paid circulator. Signatures gathered in violation may not be counted (ACA § 7-9-601).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Const. Art. 5, § 1).
  • Paid per signature: Yes, "No law shall be passed to prohibit any person or persons from giving or receiving compensation for circulating petitions." (Const. Art. 5, § 1).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (ACA § 7-9-103(c)).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 6% of total votes cast for the office of governor in the last general election (Const. Art. 5 § 1).
  • Geographic distribution: 3% of total votes cast for the office of governor from at least 15 counties (Const. Art. 5 § 1).
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered voters of the state (ACA § 7-9-103).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (ACA § 7-9-103).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: None specified.
  • Verification: By actual count (as opposed to random sampling), but this is not spelled out in statute. See ACA § 7-9-126.

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: 90 days after the final adjournment of the session in which it was passed, except when a recess or adjournment shall be taken temporarily for a longer period than 90 days, in which case such petition shall be filed not later than 90 days after such recess or temporary adjournment (Const. Art. 5, § 1).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: If a petition is insufficient but has at least 75% of the required signatures in total and in each of at least 15 counties, secretary of state must permit at least 30 days to gather additional signatures (Const. Art. 5, § 1 and A.C.A. § 7-9-111).

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Regular election (State, congressional, or municipal) or a special election called by proper official or when 15% of voters petition for one (Const. Art. V § 1).
  • Ballot title and summary: The same ballot title and popular name that appeared on petitions (drafted by sponsors) is submitted by the secretary of state to the board of canvassers for certification. The board may certify them, or if it finds they are misleading or confusing, may refuse to certify them. If they refuse, the measure is declared insufficient and does not appear on the ballot (A.C.A. § 7-9-111). Attorney general drafts summary for ballot (A.C.A. § 7-9-114).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. 5, § 1).
  • Timeline for taking effect: 30th day after the election at which it was passed (Const. Art. 5, § 1 and ACA § 7-9-119).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Two-thirds vote is required to amend or repeal a measure approved by a vote of the people (Cont. Art. 5, § 1).

 California

CA flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1911.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Cannot be used on urgency statutes, statutes calling elections or statutes providing for tax levies or appropriations for current expenses of the state (Const. Art II, § 9).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: If a referendum petition is filed against a part of a statute, the remainder of the statute shall not be delayed from going into effect (Const., art II, § 10(a)).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Before circulation of an initiative or referendum petition for signatures, a copy shall be submitted to the attorney general who shall prepare a title and summary of the measure as provided by law. There is a filing fee of $2,000, which is refunded if the measure qualifies for the ballot within two years (Const. Art II, § 10 and Elec. Code § 9001). A “top funders” sheet created by sponsors is attached to the petition (Elec. Code § 107).
  • Where to file: Attorney general (Elec. Code § 9001).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Each proponent must certify that s/he is a US citizen, at least 18 years old, and a resident of California, and must provide public contact information (Const. Art II, § 10 and Elec. Code § 9001).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: A committee must be formed upon the occurrence of any of the following in a calendar year: receiving contributions in excess of $2,000, making independent expenditures totaling $1,000 or more or making contributions totaling $10,000 or more (Govt. Code § 82013). A statement of organization is required (Govt. Code § 84101). Must include the language "a committee for/against Proposition __" in any reference to the committee required by law (Govt. Code § 84107). Semiannual statements of contributions and expenditures are due July 31 and January 31 (Govt. Code § 84200). Pre-election statements must be filed 40 and 12 days before the election (Govt. Code § 84200.8). Additional statements for ballot measure committees are due April 30 and Oct. 31 (Govt. Code § 84202.3). Allowable uses of funds by ballot measure committees are specified at Elec. Code § 18680. Committee must create a "top funders sheet" that is included as part of the petition (Elec. Code § 107).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Proponents may withdraw a measure at any time before filing the petition (Elec. Code § 9604).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Attorney general (Elec. Code § 9006).
  • What is on each petition: Petition must include a short title of 20 words or less, a summary and the text of the measure. (Elec. Code § 9010 et. seq).
  • Who creates petitions: Sponsors create the petition.

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Age 18 or older (Elec. Code § 102). Proponents are required to ensure that all circulators receive instruction on the requirements and prohibitions imposed by state law with respect to signature gathering (Elec. Code § 9607). Paid circulators must, prior to circulating petitions, sign a statement certifying they acknowledge that it is a misdemeanor to allow signatures on a petition to be used for any purpose other than qualifying a measure for the ballot (Elec. Code § 9610).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Elec. Code § 104).
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (Elec. Code § 18603).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 5% of votes cast for all candidates for governor at the last gubernatorial election (Const. Art. II, § 9(b)).
  • Geographic distribution: None.
  • Who can sign the petition: Electors (Const. Art. II, § 9(b)) and eligible registered voters (Elec. Code § 100).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (Elec. Code § 100).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: File a written request including the voter's name, residence address and signature with the appropriate county elections official prior to the day the petition is filed (Elec. Code § 103 and 9602).
  • Verification: If more than 500 names have been signed on the petition sections filed with an election official, random sampling is used to determine the number of valid voters who have signed (Elec. Code § 9030). If statistical sampling shows that the number of valid signatures is between 95-110% of the number required, an examination and verification of signatures is conducted (Elec. Code § 9031).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Within 90 days after the enactment date of the statute (Const. Art. II, § 9(b) and Elec. Code § 9014).
  • Timeline for collecting signatures: May be circulated once the attorney general has drafted a circulating title and summary up to the 90th day after the enactment date of the statute.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next general election at least 31 days after the measure qualifies or at a special statewide election held prior to that general election; the governor may call a special statewide election for the measure (Const. Art. II, § 9(c)).
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general (Elec. Code § 9050).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: There must be at least 31 days after the measure qualifies before the election (Const. Art. II, § 9(c)).

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. II, § 10(a)).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Takes effect on the 5th day after the secretary of state files the statement of the vote (Const. Art. II, § 10(a)).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None (Const. Art. II, § 10).

 Colorado

CO flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1910.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Cannot be used on laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, and appropriations for the support and maintenance of the departments of state and state institutions (Const. Art. V, § 1(3)).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: The sections of a law subject to a referendum do not. See Const. Art. V, § 1(3), "The filing of a referendum petition against any item, section, or part of any act shall not delay the remainder of the act from becoming operative."

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Not available in statute. The filing procedure described in statute does not appear to apply to referendum petitions, “every initiative petition for a proposed law or amendment to the state constitution…” (CRS § 1-40-105).
  • Where to file: secretary of state (Const. Art. V, § 1(3)).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: At the time of filing a draft, proponents must designate the names and mailing addresses of two people who will represent the proponents in all matters related to the petition (CRS § 1-40-104).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Must obtain a petition entity license before circulating petitions or paying circulators (CRS § 1-40-135(2)). Must report contributions received if in excess of $20 and all expenditures quarterly in off-election years, on the first Monday in May and every two weeks thereafter before the primary election, on the first day of each month beginning with the sixth full month before a major election, on the first Monday in September and on each Monday every two weeks thereafter before the major election, and thirty days after the major election (CRS § 1-45-108). Designated representatives must, within 10 days of filing a completed petition, file a report containing information about paid circulators and any other expenditures made in relation to circulating petitions (CRS § 1-40-121).
  • Withdrawal of petition: None, the withdrawal process specified in statute applies only to initiative petitions (CRS § 1-40-134).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: A title board comprised of the attorney general, the secretary of state and the director of the office of legislative legal services or their designees (CRS § 1-40-106).
  • What is on each petition: There is very little in statute relating to petition contents or format. Sponsors submit full petition to title board for review (CRS § 1-40-105). A warning to signers is required (CRS § 1-40-110).
  • Who creates petitions: Sponsors (CRS § 1-40-105).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: US citizen and at least 18 years old (CRS § 1-40-112).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Const. Art. V, § 1(6) and CRS § 1-40-111(2)).
  • Paid per signature: Yes (CRS § 1-40-135(2).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited; a petition section is invalid if this happens (CRS § 1-40-111(3)(IV)).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 5% of total votes cast for all candidates for secretary of state at the last general election (Const. Art. V, § 1(3)).
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered electors (Const. Art. V, § 1(3)).
  • Geographic distribution: None.
  • Collected in-person: Yes, "In their own proper persons only " (Const. Art. V, § 1(6)).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: A registered elector who signs a petition may withdraw his or her signature from the petition by filing a written request for such withdrawal with the secretary of state at any time on or before the day that the petition is filed with the secretary of state (CRS § 1-40-109(3)).
  • Verification: Random sampling (CRS § 1-40-116).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Not more than 90 days after the final adjournment of the session of the general assembly that passed the bill on which the referendum is demanded (Colo. Const. art. V, § 1(3)).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: There is a 15-day cure period after a statement of insufficiency is issued by the secretary of state, and proponents may deliver additional signatures during this time (CRS § 1-40-117).

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Biennial general election (Const. Art. V, § 1(4)(a)).
  • Ballot title and summary: The same title drafted by the title board in the pre-qualification stage is used on the ballot (CRS § 1-40-106); there is not a summary on the ballot (CRS § 1-40-115).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. V, § 1(4)(a)).
  • Timeline for taking effect: The date of the official declaration of the vote thereon by proclamation of the governor, but not later than thirty days after the vote has been canvassed (Const. Art. V, § 1(4)(a) and CRS § 1-40-123).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Idaho

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Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: process adopted 1912, but laws specifying mechanics of process not adopted until 1933.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: None (Const. Art. III, § 1).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Not specified.

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: The person(s) or organization(s) under whose authority the measure is to be referred must deliver to the secretary of state the petition, signed by at least 20 qualified electors of the state (IC § 34-1804).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (IC § 34-1804).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Not specified.
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Political committee must have a treasurer before receiving contributions or making expenditures (IC § 67-6603). Political committees must file reports of contributions and expenditures. Reports are monthly during election years and annually in nonelection years. Contributions of $1,000 or more must be reported within 48 hours after receipt (IC § 67-6607). Proponents must file reports of payments made to signature gatherers (IC § 67-6612).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Within 15 days of the issuance of the certificate of review by the attorney general, petitioners file the measure with the secretary of state, who forwards it to the attorney general, who has 10 days to draft a title (IC § 34-1809(2)).
  • What is on each petition: Must be in substantially the same form as initiative petitions, containing a title, a warning and the full text of the act (IC § 34-1801A). Must be on good quality of paper in form and manner approved by the secretary of state (IC § 34-1804).
  • Who creates petitions: Sponsors (IC § 34-1805).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Idaho resident and at least 18 years of age (IC § 34-1807).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (IC § 34-1807).
  • Paid per signature: Yes (IC § 67-6612).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (IC § 34-1821).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 6% of the qualified electors at the time of the last general election (IC § 34-1805).
  • Geographic distribution: 6% of the qualified electors at the time of the last general election in at least 18 legislative districts (IC § 34-1805).
  • Who can sign the petition: Legal voters (IC § 34-1805 and -1814).
  • Collected in-person: Yes, in the presence of the circulator (IC § 34-1807).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: By crossing out his or her own signature at any time prior to the time when the petition is presented to the county clerk for signature verification, or at any time after presentation of the petition to the county clerk but prior to verification of the signature, by presenting in writing or submitting electronically to the county clerk a signed statement that the signer desires to have his name removed from the petition. (IC § 34-1803B).
  • Verification: Not specified.

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Not more than 60 days after the final adjournment of the session of the state legislature which passed on the bill on which the referendum is demanded (IC § 34-1803).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None specified.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Biennial regular election (IC § 34-1803).
  • Ballot title and summary: Prepared jointly by the secretary of state and attorney general (IC § 34-1810(1)(b)).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (IC § 34-1803).
  • Timeline for taking effect: The date of the governor's proclamation of the election results (IC § 34-1813).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Maine

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Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1908.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: None (Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Suspended upon filing of petition signatures (Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17(2)).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Application must be filed within 10 business days of the adjournment of the legislature on a form designated by the secretary (21-A MRS § 901).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (21-A MRS § 901).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: In addition to the application, petition must include the names, residence addresses, email addresses, telephone numbers and signatures of five voters who are designated to receive notices (21-A MRS § 901). A petition organizer must register with the secretary of state. "Petition organizer" means a business entity that receives compensation for organizing, supervising or managing the circulating of petitions. Registration is made on a form prescribed by the secretary of state and includes the ballot question or title of the measure for which the organizer will receive compensation, contact information, the name and signature of a designated agent and a list of the names of all people hired to circulate petitions and the manner in which they are compensated (21-A MRS § 903-C).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Committees in support or opposition to a ballot measure are treated the same as political action committees. Must file quarterly reports. Considered a committee if individual raises or spends more than $5,000. Any contribution of $500 or more in last 13 days to be reported within 24 hours. Must report name and address of donors of $50 or more. And requires full disclosure of campaign staffers (21-A MRSA § 1051 et. seq).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Secretary of state (21-A MRS § 901(4)).
  • What is on each petition: Not specified.
  • Who creates petitions: A voter must print the petitions in the form approved by the secretary of state (21-A MRS § 901).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Any Maine resident who is a registered voter (21-A MRS § 903-A).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (21-A MRS § 902 and 903-A).
  • Paid per signature: Yes, and reporting is required (21-A MRS § 903-A(5)). See also 21-A MRS § 904-A, the repealed provision that prohibited payment per signature.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (21-A MRS § 904-B).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 10% of the total vote for governor cast in the last election (Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17(1)).
  • Geographic distribution: None.
  • Who can sign the petition: Electors (Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17(1)).
  • Collected in-person: Yes, In-person (21-A MRS § 902).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Not specified.
  • Verification: Not specified: "The Secretary of State shall determine the validity of the petition and issue a written decision stating the reasons for the decision within 30 days from the date of filing of a written petition." (21-A MRS § 905).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: 5 p.m. on or before the 90th day after the recess of the legislature, or if the 90th day is a weekend or holiday, by 5 p.m. on the preceding day which is not a weekend or holiday (Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17(1)).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None specified.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next statewide or general election, whichever comes first, that is not less than 60 days after the petition is submitted (Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17(3)).
  • Ballot title and summary: Secretary of state drafts title (21-A MRS § 905-A and 906). With the assistance of the secretary of state, the attorney general shall prepare a brief explanatory statement that must fairly describe the intent and content and what a "yes" vote favors and a "no" vote opposes (1 MRS § 353).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: There must be at least 60 days between submission of the petition and the election (Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17(3)).

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after the Governor's proclamation of the results (Const. Art. IV, pt. 3, § 17(1)).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Maryland

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Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1915.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: No law making any appropriation for maintaining the state government or for maintaining or aiding any public institution, not exceeding the next previous appropriation for the same purpose, shall be subject to referendum. The increase in any such appropriation for maintaining or aiding any public institution shall only take effect as in the case of other laws, and such increase or any part thereof specified in the petition, may be referred to a vote of the people upon petition (Const. Art. XVI, § 2).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Non-emergency laws subject to referendum do not take effect until 30 days after voter approval. An emergency law shall remain in force notwithstanding such petition but shall stand repealed 30 days after having been rejected by a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon (Const. Art. XVI, § 2).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: State Board of Elections is empowered to adopt regulations specifying procedures for filing and circulating petitions (Elec. Law § 6-103).
  • Where to file: Not specified in statute; presumably with the State Board, since the Board is empowered to adopt regulations specifying how to file.
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Petition sponsors may not gather signatures without first forming a ballot issue committee (Elec. Law § 13-202).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: All campaign finance activity must be conducted through a campaign finance entity. Petition sponsors may not gather signatures without first forming a ballot issue committee (Elec. Law § 13-202). See Elec. Code § 13-208 for statement of organization. Ballot issue committees must file reports of contributions and expenditures on or before the fourth and second Friday immediately preceding a general election and on or before the second Tuesday after a general election. Additional reports are due on the third Wednesday in January of each year the committee continues in existence. A petition's sponsor must file a campaign finance report at the time a petition is filed under § 6-205 and a committee opposing a ballot measure must file a campaign finance report within 10 business days after the petition is filed under § 6-205 (Elec. Code § 13-309).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Written by sponsors, approved by attorney general (Const. Art. XVI, § 4).
  • What is on each petition: The format of the petition may be submitted to the chief election official of the appropriate election authority, in advance of filing the petition, for a determination of its sufficiency (Elec. Law § 6-202). Each page must contain the full text of the measure or an accurate summary approved by the attorney general (Const. Art. XVI, § 4). Information page must contain description of subject and purpose of the petition, identification of sponsors, the required information relating to signatures and the required affidavit. Signature pages must include description of subject and purpose of petition, a fair and accurate summary or the full text, a statement to which each signer subscribes, spaces for signatures, spaces for signers' county and space for the required affidavit. (Elec. Law § 6-201).
  • Who creates petitions: Sponsors (Elec. Law § 6-202).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: At least 18 years old (Elec. Law § 6-204(c)).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Const. Art. XVI, § 4).
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (Elec. Law § 16-401(a)(1)).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 3% of the whole number of votes cast for governor at the preceding election (Const. Art. XVI, § 3).
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered voters of the state (Const. Art. XVI, § 1 and Elec. Law § 6-203(b)).
  • Geographic distribution: Not more than half may be residents of Baltimore City or of one county (Const. Art. XVI, § 3).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (Elec. Law § 6-204).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: A signature may be removed by the signer upon written application to the election authority with which the petition will be filed if the application is received by the election authority prior to the filing of that signature, or prior to the filing of that signature by the circulator who attested to that signature or by the sponsor of the petition, if it is concluded that the signature does not satisfy the requirements of this title (Elec. Law § 6-203(c)).
  • Verification: State Board is empowered to adopt regulations specifying procedures for verifying and counting signatures (Elec. Law § 6-103). An optional random sampling process must be provided. Random sample process must require the random selection and verification of 500 signatures or 5% of the total signatures on the petition, whichever number is greater, to determine what percentage of the random sample is composed of signatures that are authorized by law to be counted. If the random sample verification establishes that fewer than 95% of signatures are valid, the petition is deemed insufficient. If more than 105% are deemed valid, the petition is deemed valid. If 95-105% are deemed sufficient, a full verification of all signatures must be conducted (Elec. Law § 6-207(c)).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: June 1 (Const. Art. XVI, § 2). For an act passed less than 45 days before June 1, the first third of the required number of signatures must be submitted within 30 days of the act's passage, and the time for filing the additional required signatures is extended another 30 days (Const. Art. XVI, § 3(b)).
  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Signatures may be signed at any time after an act is passed (Const. Art. XVI, § 3(d)). If more than one-third but less than the full number of the signatures required is submitted by June 1, the time for the law to take effect and the time for the filing of the remaining required signatures is extended to June 30 (Const. Art. XVI, § 3(b)).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: Subsequent to the filing of a petition under this subtitle, but prior to the deadline for filing the petition, additional signatures may be added to the petition by filing an amended information page and additional signature pages conforming to the requirements of this subtitle (Elec. Law § 6-205(d)).

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: At the next ensuing election held throughout the state for members of the U.S. House of Representatives (Const. Art. XVI, § 2).
  • Ballot title and summary: Full text is printed on the ballot if it is 200 words or less; if it is more than 200 words, secretary of state drafts a title. The title may be different from the legislative title, but in all cases the legislative title shall be sufficient (Const. Art. XVI, § 5(b) and Elec. Law § 7-103(c)). A ballot summary is prepared by Department of Legislative Services and approved by attorney general Elec. Law § 7-105.
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. XVI, § 5(b).
  • Timeline for taking effect: 30 days after the election (Const. Art. XVI, § 5(b)).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Massachusetts

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Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1917.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: No law that relates to religion, religious practices or religious institutions; or to the appointment, qualification, tenure, removal or compensation of judges; or to the powers, creation or abolition of courts; or the operation of which is restricted to a particular town, city or other political division or to particular districts or localities of the commonwealth; or that appropriates money for the current or ordinary expenses of the commonwealth or for any of its departments, boards, commissions or institutions shall be the subject of a referendum petition (Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 2).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Operation of the law is suspended when petitions with sufficient signatures to trigger a vote are submitted (Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: A petition requesting a referendum and suspension of the law must be signed by ten qualified voters and filed not more than 30 days after the law that is the subject of the petition has become law (Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 3).
  • Where to file: Secretary of the commonwealth (Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 3).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Application must be signed by ten qualified voters (Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 3).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Political committee must file a statement of organization. Disclosure reports must be filed 60 days before the election, on the 5th and 20th day of each month until the election, the 20th day of November after the election, and the 20th of January each year. (MGL ch. 55, § 22).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Secretary of the commonwealth drafts a fair, concise summary that appears on petitions and on the ballot (Const. Art. LXXIV, § 2 and MGL ch. 54, § 53).
  • What is on each petition: A fair, concise summary of the proposed measure must appear at the top, along with the names and residences of the first 10 signers (Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 3 and MGL ch. 54, § 22A).
  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of the commonwealth (Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI, Subpt. III, § 3 and MGL ch. 54, § 22A).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: None specified.
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: No.
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (Const. Art. XLVII , Pt. VI).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 2% of the entire vote cast for governor at the preceding biennial state election (Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4).
  • Geographic distribution: Not more than one-fourth the of signatures shall be from one county (Const. Art. XLVII , Pt. VI).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified voters (Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4).
  • Collected in-person: Not specified.
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Not specified.
  • Verification: Secretary of the commonwealth is directed to establish "regulations designed to achieve and maintain accuracy, uniformity, and security" (MGL ch. 53 § 7).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Not more than 90 days after the law which is the subject of the petition has become law (Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: The secretary of the commonwealth shall submit such law to the people at the next state election (Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4).
  • Ballot title and summary: Secretary of the commonwealth drafts a fair, concise summary that appears on petitions and on the ballot (Const. Art. LXXIV, § 2 and MGL ch. 54, § 53).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: If 60 days do not so intervene between submission of the petition and the date for holding the next state election, then such law shall be submitted to the people at the next following state election, unless in the meantime it shall have been repealed (Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4).

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority, but no such law shall be held to be disapproved if the negative vote is less than thirty per cent of the total number of ballots cast at such state election (Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4).
  • Timeline for taking effect: 30 days after the election (Const. Art. LXXXI, § 4).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None (Const. Art. XLVII, Pt. VI).

 Michigan

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Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1908.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: The power of referendum does not extend to acts making appropriations for state institutions or to meet deficiencies in state funds (Const. Art. II, § 9).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: For the purposes of the second paragraph of Const. Art. II, § 9, a law that is the subject of the referendum continues to be effective until the referendum is properly invoked, which occurs when the board of state canvassers makes its official declaration of the sufficiency of the referendum petition (MCL § 168.477(2)).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Not specified.
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (MCL § 168.471).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Not specified.
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: A committee must file a statement of organization within 10 days of its organization; must include a brief statement identifying the substance of each ballot question supported or opposed by the committee (MCL § 169.224). Campaign statements must be filed by the 11th day before the election, the thirtieth day after the election, April 25 and July 25 every year, Oct. 25 in odd-numbered years. A statement must be filed by a ballot issue committee supporting or opposing a measure not more than 35 days after the petition is filed (MCL § 169.234).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Petition must include a summary of 100 words or less (MCL § 168.482). Sponsors draft summary and submit to board of state canvassers for approval. Must be a true and impartial statement of the purpose of the measure (MCL § 168.482b and 168.22e).
  • What is on each petition: Must include a summary of not more than 100 words of the purpose of the proposed question, statement by signers, warning and check boxes to indicate whether circulator is paid or volunteer (MCL § 168.482).
  • Who creates petitions: Not specified.

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: 18 years of age and a US citizen; nonresidents may be circulators but must check a box on the petition disclosing this (MCL § 168.544c). Paid circulators must file an affidavit with secretary of state indicating they are paid before circulating a petition (MCL § 168.482a) NOTE: The affidavit requirement has been declared unconstitutional and nonbinding by AG opinion 7310, May 2019.
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (MCL § 168.482 and .544c).
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Not specified.

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 5% of total votes cast for all candidates for governor in the last general election (Const. Art. II, § 9 and MCL § 168.471).
  • Geographic distribution: None (MCL § 168.471 requirement that no more than 15% come from a single congressional district was found unconstitutional in AG opinion 7310, May 2019).
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered electors of the state (Const. Art. II, § 9).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (MCL § 168.482a(5))..
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Not specified
  • Verification: The qualified voter file shall be used to determine the validity of petition signatures by verifying the registration of signers and the genuineness of signatures on petitions when the qualified voter file contains digitized signatures. If the board is unable to verify the genuineness of a signature on a petition using the digitized signature contained in the qualified voter file, the board may cause any doubtful signatures to be checked against the registration records by the clerk of any political subdivision in which the petitions were circulated, to determine the authenticity of the signatures or to verify the registrations (MCL § 168.476).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Within 90 days following the final adjournment of the legislative session at which the law was enacted (Const. Art. II, § 9 and MCL § 168.471).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next general election (Const. Art. II, § 9).
  • Ballot title and summary: Director of elections, with approval of state board of canvassers, drafts a statement of purpose of not more than 100 words for the ballot (MCL § 168.32(2)).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. II, § 9).
  • Timeline for taking effect: 10 days after the official declaration of the vote (Const. Art. II, § 9).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Laws approved by the people under the referendum provision of this section may be amended by the legislature at any subsequent session thereof (Const. Art. II, § 9).

 Missouri

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Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1908.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: May not be used for laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, and laws making appropriations for the current expenses of the state government, for the maintenance of state institutions and for the support of public schools (Const. Art. III, § 52(a)).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Not specified.

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: A sample sheet is submitted to the secretary of state before petitions may be circulated. No filing fee is specified (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.332).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (Const. Art. III, § 52(a)).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: If a committee or person, except the individual submitting the sample sheet, is funding any portion of the drafting or submitting of the sample sheet, the person submitting the sample sheet shall submit a copy of the filed statement of committee organization required under subsection 5 of section 130.021 (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.332).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Must file a statement of organization within 20 days of becoming a committee (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 130.021). Reports of contributions and expenditures must be filed no later than the eight day before the election, the 30th day after an election and the 15th day following the close of each calendar quarter. Ballot measure committees have the following additional reporting requirements: initial disclosure report is due 15 days after the committee begins raising or spending money, with subsequent quarterly reports until the pre-election report is due. A report is also due no later than the 15th day after the deadline for filing the referendum petition (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 130.046).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Any person who submits a sample sheet to or files an initiative petition with the secretary of state may withdraw the petition upon written notice to the secretary of state. The secretary of state shall vacate the certification of the official ballot title within three days of receiving notice of the withdrawal (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.115).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Petition bears the title of the bill it seeks to repeal (Mo.Rev. Stat. § 116.030) and secretary of state drafts a ballot title which appears on the petition (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.180).
  • What is on each petition: Petition format is addressed in Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.030 and .050; includes warning to signers, bill number and title, circulator's affidavit, and full text of the measure.
  • Who creates petitions: Sponsors are required to submit a sample petition to the secretary of state. It is referred to the attorney general for approval (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.332).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be 18 years old and registered with the secretary of state. No person shall qualify as a petition circulator who has been convicted of, found guilty of or pled guilty to an offense involving forgery under the laws of this state or an offense under the laws of any other jurisdiction if that offense would be considered forgery under the laws of this state (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.080)..
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Mo.Rev. Stat. § 116.030)
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.090).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 5% of the total vote cast for governor at the last election (Const. Art. III, § 52(a) and 53).
  • Who can sign the petition: Any registered voter of Missouri, but each petition page can contain only signatures from one county (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.060).
  • Geographic distribution: 5% in each of two-thirds of the congressional districts (Const. Art. III,  § 52(a)).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.030).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Voter may withdraw signature by submitting to the secretary of state, before the petition is filed with the secretary of state, a sworn statement requesting that his or her signature be withdrawn and affirming the name of the petition signed, the name the voter used when signing the petition, the address of the voter and the county of residence (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.110).
  • Verification: The secretary of state may verify the signatures on the petition by use of random sampling (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.120). Secretary of state may send petition pages to election authorities for verification. The secretary shall direct whether this is conducted by random sampling or by verification of each signature (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.130).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: No later than 5 p.m. 90 days after the final adjournment of the legislative session (Const. Art. III, § 52(a) and Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.100).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: General election, or at a special election ordered by the general assembly (Const. Art. III, § 52(b)).
  • Ballot title and summary: Secretary of state drafts ballot language statements that fairly and accurately explain what a vote for and what a vote against the measure represent, approved by attorney general (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.025). Secretary drafts a summary of 100 words or less, approved by attorney general (Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.334).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. III, § 52(b) and Mo.Rev.Stat. § 116.320).
  • Timeline for taking effect: When approved (Const. Art. III, § 52(b)).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Montana

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Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1906.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: May not be applied to appropriations of money (Const. Art. III, § 5(1)).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: An act referred to the people is in effect until suspended by petitions signed by at least 15% of the qualified electors in a majority of the legislative representative districts. (Const. Art. III, § 5(2)). In all other cases, an act that is subject to the referendum remains in effect until it is rejected at an election (MCA § 13-27-105(3)).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Text and proposed ballot statements are submitted to secretary of state. Secretary of state submits to Legislative Services Division for review, after which the final text of the measure and ballot statements must be resubmitted to secretary of state. The secretary of state then refers both to the attorney general, who determines the legal sufficiency of the issue, approves the petitioner's ballot statements and determines whether a fiscal note is necessary. After all reviews are complete, secretary of state sends the person who submitted the proposal a sample petition form (MCA § 13-27-202).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (Const. Art. III, § 5(1) and MCA § 13-27-202).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: A person, committee or political party that pays signature gatherers is required to file the same financial disclosures required under Title 13, Chapter 37 (MCA § 13-27-112).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements:  Reports of expenditures and contributions received are required quarterly in non-election years and monthly, March through November, in election years. Reports of contributions and expenditures of $500 or more must be made within 2 days between the 25th day of the month before an election and the day of the election (MCA § 13-37-226).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: A statement of purpose and implication, not to exceed 135 words, and yes-no statements are drafted by petitioners and reviewed and approved by the attorney general. These serve as the petition title (MCA § 13-27-312).
  • What is on each petition: Must include title and complete text must be attached (MCA § 13-27-201). Sample petition prepared by secretary of state must include the text of the measure, a statement of purpose and implication, and yes-no statements, as prepared by the petitioner (MCA § 13-27-202 and -205).
  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state prepares a sample petition (MCA § 13-27-202 and -205).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Montana resident (MCA § 13-27-102).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (MCA § 13-27-302).
  • Paid per signature: Prohibited (MCA § 13-27-102).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Not specified.

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 5% of the votes cast for governor at the preceding election (Const. Art. III, § 5(1)). 15% of the votes cast for governor in the preceding election in a majority of legislative districts is required to suspend operation of an act pending the election (Const. Art. III, § 5(2)).
  • Geographic distribution: 5% of the vote cast for governor at the preceding election from at least one-third of total legislative districts (Const. Art. III, § 5(1)).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors of the state of Montana (MCA 13-27-102).
  • Collected in-person: Not specified.
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Signatures may be withdrawn up to the time of submission of the petition. The secretary of state is directed to prescribe a form for this process (MCA § 13-27-301(3)).
  • Verification: Random sampling (MCA 13-27-303).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: No later than six months after the adjournment of the legislature which passed the act (Const. Art. III, § 5(1)). This deadline pertains to when counties must submit petitions with verified signatures to the secretary of state. Petitions must be submitted to counties for verification four weeks before this deadline (MCA § 13-27-301).
  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Signatures may be collected as soon as petition is approved and must be submitted to counties four weeks prior to the deadline (MCA § 13-27-301).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: General election, unless the legislature orders a special election (Const. Art. III, § 6).
  • Ballot title and summary: A statement of purpose and implication, not to exceed 135 words, and yes-no statements are drafted by petitioners and reviewed and approved by the attorney general. These serve as the ballot title (MCA § 13-27-312).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (MCA § 13-27-504).
  • Timeline for taking effect: An act that is rejected is repealed effective the date the result of the canvass is filed by the secretary of state. An act referred to the people that was in effect at the time of the election and is approved by the people remains in effect. An act that was suspended by a petition and is approved by the people is effective the date the result of the canvass is filed by the secretary of state (MCA § 13-27-105(3)).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Nebraska

NE flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1912.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Acts making appropriations for the expense of the state government or a state institution existing at the time of the passage of such act are not subject to referendum (Const. Art. III, § 3). The secretary of state shall not accept for filing any initiative or referendum petition which interferes with the legislative prerogative contained in the Constitution of Nebraska that the necessary revenue of the state and its governmental subdivisions shall be raised by taxation in the manner as the legislature may direct (NRS § 32-1408).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: If a petition has signatures from 10% of the state's registered voters, it shall suspend the taking effect of such act or part of act (except emergency acts or those for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety) until the same has been approved by the electors of the state (Const. Art. III, § 3).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Petitioners file a statement containing the object of the petition and the text of the measure with the secretary of state, together with a sworn statement containing the names and street addresses of every person, corporation or association sponsoring the petition (NRS § 32-1405).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (NRS § 32-1405).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Original filing includes the names and street addresses of every person, corporation or association sponsoring the petition (NRS § 32-1405).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: There is a principal circulator whose information is publicly available upon request (NRS § 32-1406). Persons involved in a statewide initiative or referendum process are subject to the provisions of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act. Records must be kept of contributions and expenditures. If raising more than $5,000 in a year, the entity must register as a ballot question committee. When formed as a ballot question committee, it must file campaign statements and other forms with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, all on a set timeline (NRS § 49-1401).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Proponents draft (NRS § 32-1405).
  • What is on each petition: Petition must include title of the act, and if only a portion of the act is sought to be referred, the number of the section or sections or portion of sections of the act designating such portion (Const. Art. III, § 3). General guidance as to format and contents can be found at NRS § 32-1402. Full and correct copy of title and text must be printed on petitions (NRS § 32-1403).
  • Who creates petitions: The secretary of state prepares five camera-ready copies of the petition for the sponsors (NRS § 32-1405).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: 18 years of age (NRS § 32-629 and -1404).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (NRS § 32-630 and -1404).
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (NRS § 32-630 and -1404).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 5% of the whole number of votes cast for governor in the last election. In order to suspend effectiveness of the act pending a vote, signature requirement is 10% (Const. Art. III, § 3 and 4).
  • Geographic distribution: The registered voters signing such petition shall be so distributed as to include five percent of the whole number of votes cast for governor at the last election in each of two-fifths of the counties of the state (Const. Art. III, § 3).
  • Who can sign the petition: Voters who register on or before the date the petition is required to be filed (NRS § 32-1404)..
  • Collected in-person: Yes (NRS § 32-630 and -1404).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Not specified.
  • Verification: County officials verify each signature, printed name, date of birth and address with the voter registration records to determine if the signer is a registered voter (NRS § 32-1409).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Petitions must be filed within 90 days after the legislature at which the act sought to be referred was passed shall have adjourned sine die or for more than ninety days (Const. Art. III, § 3 and NRS § 32-1407).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: First general election to be held not less than 30 days after the filing of the petition (Const. Art. III, § 3); next general election after the petition is regularly and legally filed with the secretary of state (NRS § 32-1411).
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general drafts ballot title and prepares a statement to be printed in italics immediately preceding the ballot title on the official ballot. Such statement shall in clear and concise language explain the effect of a vote for and against the measure in such language that the statement will not be intentionally an argument or likely to create prejudice, either for or against the measure (NRS § 32-1410(2)).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: At least 30 days must pass between the filing of the petition and the election (Const. Art. III, § 3).

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority and not less than 35% of the total vote cast at the election (Const. Art. III, § 4).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Upon proclamation by the governor which shall be made within ten days after the official canvass of such votes (Const. Art. III, § 4 and NRS § 32-1414).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Nevada

NV flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1904.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: The following language applies to initiatives and may apply to referenda, “This Article does not permit the proposal of any statute or statutory amendment which makes an appropriation or otherwise requires the expenditure of money, unless such statute or amendment also imposes a sufficient tax, not prohibited by the Constitution, or otherwise constitutionally provides for raising the necessary revenue" (Const. Art. 19, § 6).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Not specified.

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Copy of petition must be filed not earlier than Aug. 1 of the year before the year in which the election will be held (Const. Art. 19, § 1). Filing must include the description of the effect of the measure, the sponsor's name and signature (NRS § 295.015).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (Const. Art. 19, § 1).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Sponsor’s name is part of original filing, along  with the name of any committee the sponsor has formed and the names of not more than three people who can withdraw or amend the petition (NRS § 295.015).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: In order to receive contributions or make expenditures in excess of $1,500 in a calendar year, must form a committee for political action and register with the secretary of state (NRS § 294A.230). Must report on Jan. 15 of an election year all expenditures in excess of $1,000 or cumulative expenditures to one recipient in excess of $1,000 in the previous calendar year. Same must also be reported quarterly on April 15, July 15, Oct. 15, and Jan. 15 (NRS § 294A.220).
  • Withdrawal of petition: May be withdrawn by any of the people authorized to do so at the time of filing; withdrawal is made via a form prescribed by the secretary of state (NRS § 295.026).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: The proponent writes a description of 200 words or less of the effect the measure would have if approved by voters (NRS § 295.009).
  • What is on each petition: Petition must include the full text of the measure, the affidavit of the circulator (Const. Art. 19, § 3) and summary statement drafted by proponents (NRS § 295.009).
  • Who creates petitions: Not specified.

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: 18 years of age (NRS § 295.0575).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Const. Art. 19, § 3 and NRS § 295.0575).
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (NSR § 295.300).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 10% of the voters who voted in the preceding general election (Const. Art. 19, § 1 and NRS § 293.127563).
  • Geographic distribution: The required signatures must be distributed equally among all of the petition districts (NRS § 295.012 and NRS § 293.127563).
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered voters (Const. Art. 19, § 1 and NRS § 293.12757).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (NRS § 295.0575).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Can file a request with the county clerk any time before the petition is filed (NRS § 295.055).
  • Verification: "The Legislature may authorize the Secretary of State and the other public officers to use generally accepted statistical procedures in conducting a preliminary verification of the number of signatures submitted in connection with a referendum petition or an initiative petition, and for this purpose to require petitions to be filed no more than 65 days earlier than is otherwise required by [the constitution]" (Const. Art. 19, § 3). Random sample of at least 500 or 5% of the signatures, whichever is greater. If the total signatures meet 90-100% of the requirement, the county clerk(s) check all of the signatures until 100% is reached. It fails to qualify if under 90% and qualifies if at least 100%.  This same process also applies to individual petition districts (NRS § 293.1277).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Petition must be filed with county officials not later than 15 days following the primary election (NRS § 295.056). Final deadline (this is for counties to transmit verified petitions to the secretary of state) is not less than 120 days before the next general election (Const. Art. 19, § 1 and NRS § 295.045).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next succeeding election at which the question may be voted upon by the voters of the entire state (Const. Art. 19, § 1).
  • Ballot title and summary: The title of the statute or resolution must be set out on the ballot, and the question printed upon the ballot for the information of the voters must be as follows: “Shall the statute (setting out its title) be approved?” (NRS § 295.045). The secretary of state, in consultation with the attorney general, prepares a condensation, explanations for and against, and concise summaries of the bill's impact on existing related laws (NRS § 293.250).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

 New Mexico

NM flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1911.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Prohibited subject areas include general appropriation laws; laws providing for the preservation of the public peace, health or safety; for the payment of the public debt or interest thereon, or the creation or funding of the same, except as in this constitution otherwise provided; for the maintenance of the public schools or state institutions, and local or special laws (Const. Art. IV, § 1).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Not automatically, though the law can be suspended with a higher signature threshold and an earlier submission deadline—25% of the total vote cast in the last election, including 25% of the votes cast in each of 3/4 of the counties, submitted no later than 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session (Const. Art. IV, § 1).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Original draft of petition must be submitted to secretary of state before circulating, including a suggested popular name; secretary of state approves and certifies both or disproves and specifies each deficiency (NMSA § 1-17-8).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (NMSA § 1-17-8).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Not specified.
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Political committees must file a statement of organization (NMSA § 1-19-26.1). Reports of contributions and expenditures are due by the 15th of every April and October. In election years, instead of biannual reports, reports are due no later than the second Monday in April, May, September and October, and no later than the Thursday before an election. Contributions in excess of $3,000 that are received after filing the pre-election report must be reported within 24 hours of receipt. A post-election report is due by Jan. 7.
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Proponents submit a suggested popular name, to be approved or disapproved by the secretary of state (NMSA § 1-17-9).
  • What is on each petition: Petition includes original title of the act to be referred and a statement by signers. (NMSA § 1-17-2) Each signature page is limited to one county and must bear the circulator's certificate and a warning to signers (NMSA § 1-17--5); circulators must also present full and correct copy of the law (NMSA § 1-17-3).
  • Who creates petitions: Not specified.

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: None specified.
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (NMSA § 1-17-5 and -6).
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Not specified.

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 10% of the total number of votes cast in the last general election; or 25% to suspend operation of the act until the election (Const. Art. IV, § 1).
  • Geographic distribution: 10% of the votes cast in the last general election in each of three-fourths of the counties, or 25% to suspend operation of the act until the operation (Const. Art. IV, § 1).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors (Const. Art. IV, § 1 and NMSA § 1-17-1).
  • Collected in-person: Each person must sign "in his own proper handwriting" (NMSA § 1-17-1).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Not specified.
  • Verification: Verification method not specified, but "In considering the sufficiency of a referendum petition the burden of proving that all signatures appearing on the page are genuine and that the signers are qualified electors of the county named on the page and are in all respects entitled to sign the petition shall be upon the sponsors of the petition, if it is apparent beyond a reasonable doubt to the secretary of state that twenty percent or more of the signatures on any one page thereof are fictitious, forged or otherwise clouded, or that the challenged petitioners were ineligible to sign the petition, which fact was known or could have been ascertained by the exercise of reasonable diligence on the part of the person soliciting the signatures on that page" (NMSA § 1-17-11).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Not less than four months prior to the next general election (Const. Art. IV, § 1).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: If petition is insufficient, sponsors have 30 days to solicit and obtain additional signatures, submit proof to show that rejected signatures are valid, or make the petition more definite and certain (NMSA § 1-17-12).

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next general election (Const. Art. IV, § 1).
  • Ballot title and summary: Proponents submit a suggested popular name, to be approved or disapproved by the secretary of state (NMSA § 1-17-9).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority of the votes cast thereon and at least 40% of the total number of votes legally cast in the election (Const. Art. IV, § 1).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Upon publication of the certificate by the secretary of state of the result of the vote (Const. Art. IV, § 1).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 North Dakota

ND flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1914.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: None (Const. Art. III, § 1).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: The submission of a petition suspends the operation of any act except emergency measures and appropriation measures for the support and maintenance of state departments and institutions (Const. Art. III § 5).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Petition must be presented to secretary of state for approval as to form. Must include the names, addresses and signatures of at least 25 electors as sponsors and the full text of the measure (Const. Art. III, § 2).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (Const. Art. III, § 2).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Original filing must include the names, addresses and signatures of at least 25 electors as sponsors (Const. Art. III, § 2).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Sponsoring committee must file a statement of renumeration prior to circulating signatures if circulators will be paid (NDCC 16.1-01-12(1)(j)). The following contribution and expenditure statements must be electronically filed: drafting statement, filed at the time approval is requested to circulate petition; circulating statement, filed at the time petitions are submitted for signature verification; pre-election statement, filed between the 39th and 31st day prior to the election; and year-end statement, filed by January 31 of the year following the election (NDCC § 16.1-08.1-02 and -03).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Secretary of state drafts a short and concise statement that fairly represents the proposal; approved by the attorney general (NDCC § 16.1-01-09).
  • What is on each petition: The statement written by the secretary of state and the full text of the measure must be included (NDCC § 16.1-01-09).
  • Who creates petitions: Unclear who actually creates the petition, but it must be created according to a form prescribed by the secretary of state (NDCC § 16.1-01-09).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be an elector (Const. Art. III, § 3) and at least 18 years of age (NDCC § 16.1-01-09(4)).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Const. Art. III, § 3 and NDCC § 16.1-01-09(3)).
  • Paid per signature: Cannot be paid based on the number of signatures collected, but can be paid in general (NDCC § 16.1-01-12(1)(j)).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (NDCC 16.1-01-12).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 2% of the residential population according to the last federal decennial census (Const. Art. III, § 4).
  • Geographic distribution: None.
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors (NDCC § 16.1-01-09(2)).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (Const. Art. III, § 3 and NDCC § 16.1-01-09(2)).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: None, "An elector's name may not be removed by the elector from a petition that has been submitted to and received by the secretary of state" (NDCC § 16.1-01-09(5)).
  • Verification: The secretary of state employs a representative random sampling by the use of questionnaires, postcards, telephone calls, personal interviews, etc., or any combinations thereof, to determine the validity of the signatures (NDCC § 16.1-01-10).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: By midnight (NDCC § 16.1-01-09(7)) within 90 days of the date the legislation was signed by the governor and filed with the secretary of state (Const. Art. III, § 5).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: If a petition is insufficient, a period of 20 days is allowed for correction (Const. Art. III, § 6).

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Statewide or a special election called by the governor (Const. Art. III, § 5).
  • Ballot title and summary: Full text is included if not too long. Otherwise the secretary of state in consultation with the attorney general writes a concise summary (NDCC § 16.1-06-09).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: If sufficiency is being reviewed at the time the ballot is being prepared, the measure shall be placed on the ballot and no subsequent decision shall invalidate it if it is approved by a majority of voters (Const. Art. III, § 6).

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. III, § 8).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after the election (Const. Art. III, § 8).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Two-thirds vote required to amend or repeal within seven years of effective date (Const. Art. III, § 8).

 Ohio

OH flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1912.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Laws providing for tax levies, appropriations for the current expenses of the state government and state institutions and emergency laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety (OH Const. Art. II, § 1d). The powers defined herein as the "initiative" and "referendum" shall not be used to pass a law authorizing any classification of property for the purpose of levying different rates of taxation thereon or of authorizing the levy of any single tax on land or land values or land sites at a higher rate or by a different rule than is or may be applied to improvements thereon or to personal property (Const. Art. II, § 1e).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: No (Const. Art. II, § 1c).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Sponsors must submit the measure and a summary of it with a petition signed by 1,000 qualified electors to the secretary of state, and within one day, to the attorney general (ORC § 3519.01(B)).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state and attorney general (ORC § 3519.01(B)).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Sponsors must designate a committee of three to five people who shall represent them in all matters related to the petition (ORC § 3519.02). Any person who pays or receives compensation to circulate a referendum petition must file a statement to that effect with the secretary of state before circulation begins. Petitions are deemed invalid if signatures are gathered in violation (ORC § 3501.381).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Prior to receiving a contribution or making an expenditure, a campaign must designate a treasurer by filing with the secretary of state (ORC § 3517.10(D)). Reports of contributions and expenditures are due on the 12th day before an election, the 38th day after an election and the last business day of January and July of every year (ORC § 3517.10).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Any time more than 70 days before the election, a majority of the members of the committee that represents the petition may withdraw the petition by providing written notice to the secretary of state (ORC § 3519.08).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Original filing includes a summary written by sponsors; approved by attorney general (ORC § 3519.01(B)).
  • What is on each petition: Petition must include full and correct title and text of the law (Const. Art. II, § 1g and ORC § 3519.01). Petition includes title, brief legislative history of the measure to be referred, full text and secretary of state's certification that the full text is correct (ORC § 3519.05(C)).
  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state (ORC § 3519.05(C)).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be at least 18 and an Ohio resident (O.R.C. § 3503.06).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Const. Art. II, § 1g and ORC § 3501.38).
  • Paid per signature: Yes.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (ORC § 3599.13 and .14).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 6% of the total votes cast for the office of governor in the last election (OH Const. Art. II, § 1c and 1g).
  • Geographic distribution: 3% of the votes cast for the office of governor in the last election in half of the counties each (OH Const. Art. II, § 1g).
  • Who can sign the petition: Electors of the state (Const. Art. II, § 1g).
  • Collected in-person: Original ink signatures are required (ORC § 3519.051 and 3501.38(B)).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Any signer may remove their signature at any time before the petition is filed by striking it out on the petition (ORC § 3501.38(H)).
  • Verification: County officials ascertain whether each part-petition is properly verified, and whether the names on each part-petition are on the registration lists of such county, or whether the persons whose names appear on each part-petition are eligible to vote in such county, and to determine any repetition or duplication of signatures, the number of illegal signatures, and the omission of any necessary details required by law (ORC § 3519.15).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Ninety days after the law is filed by the governor in the office of the secretary of state (Const. Art. II, § 1c).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: If signatures are determined to be insufficient, an additional 10 days is allowed to gather additional signatures (Const. Art. II, § 1g and ORC § 3519.16(F)).

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next regular or general election subsequent to the 125 days after filing (OH Const. Art. II, § 1c).
  • Ballot title and summary: Ballot language is drafted by the Ohio Ballot Board (Const. Art. II, § 1g).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: 125 days must pass after filing petition before election (OH Const. Art. II, § 1c).

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. II, § 1c and ORC § 3519.21).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Upon approval by the voters (Const. Art. II, § 1c).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Oklahoma

OK flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1907.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety are excluded (Const. Art. V, § 2).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Not specified.

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Sponsors draft petition and file with secretary of state (34 OS § 1).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (Const. Art. V, § 3).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: A group of no more than three people is designated to be the chief proponents at the time of original filing (34 OS § 1).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements:  A committee formed to support or oppose a ballot measure must register by filing a statement of organization with the Ethics Commission when its contributions or expenditures exceed $1,000 (Ethics Commission rules 2.79 and 2.80). Reports of contributions and expenditures are due on a quarterly basis (Rule 2.103 and 2.122). Reports of State Question Communications are required if aggregate expenses for a communication made at least 15 days before the election equal to exceed $5,000. During the 14 days before the election, reports of any communication exceeding $5,000 in the aggregate are due within one business day (Rule 2.109).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Any time before the final submission of signatures, proponents may write to the secretary of state to withdraw (34 OS § 8).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: The title of the bill being referred is included on the petition (34 OS § 1). A "simple statement of the gist of the measure," drafted by sponsors, is printed at the top of the petition (34 OS § 3).
  • What is on each petition: Petition includes original bill number, title and affidavit signed by no more than three proponents file the measure (34 OS § 1). Outer page of petition pamphlet includes warning to signers. A simple statement of the gist of the proposition is printed at the top of each signature page (34 OS § 3).
  • Who creates petitions: Sponsors (34 OS § 1).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: 18 years of age (34 OS § 6).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (34 OS § 6).
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Not specified.

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 5% of total votes cast for governor at last election (OK Const. Art. V, § 2).
  • Geographic distribution: None.
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors of the state (34 OS § 23).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (34 OS § 6).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Not specified.
  • Verification: Each signature is physically counted (34 OS § 6.1).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: By 5 p.m. not more than 90 days after final adjournment of the legislative session at which the bill was passed (Const. Art. V, § 3 and 34 OS § 1, § 4 and § 8).
  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Signature gathering begins on a date specified by the secretary of state and cannot be less than 15 or more than 30 days from the date when all appeals and rehearings have been resolved or have expired. Signatures must be submitted by 5 p.m. on the 90th day after final adjournment of the legislature (34 OS § 8).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next statewide election, unless a special election is called by the legislature of the governor for the express purpose of considering a referendum (Const. Art. V, § 3 and OK Stat. Tit. 34, § 25).
  • Ballot title and summary: Proponents draft and submit a ballot title in their original filing (34 OS § 8). The secretary of state submits the title to the attorney general for approval when signed petitions are timely filed for verification. The attorney general may approve the title or revise as necessary to comply with the law (34 OS § 8(H) and 9).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. V, § 3).
  • Timeline for taking effect: When approved by a majority of voters (Const. Art. V, § 3).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None (Const. Art. V, § 7).

 Oregon

OR flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1902.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Acts that become effective earlier than 90 days after the end of the session are exempt from the referendum (Const. Art. IV, § 1(3)).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Not specified.

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: A prospective petition must be filed with the secretary of state. Must include the signatures of at least 1,000 electors and not more than 2,000. A full copy of the measure must be attached. Chief petitioners must file a statement declaring whether circulators will be paid (ORS § 250.045).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (Const. Art. IV, § 1(4) and ORS § 250.045).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: The cover of an initiative or referendum petition shall designate the name and residence address of not more than three persons as chief petitioners (ORS § 250.045(6)).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Within three days of making an expenditure or receiving a contribution, a political committee must file a statement of organization and designated a treasurer (ORS § 260.035). Electronic reports of contributions and expenditures must be filed according to a schedule specified in ORS § 260.057.
  • Withdrawal of petition: Chief petitioners may withdraw at any time before submitting the signatures for verification. All of the chief petitioners must sign the form to withdraw (ORS § 250.029).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Attorney general (ORS § 250.065(4))
  • What is on each petition: The cover of the petition must contain the name and address of the chief petitioners, the measure summary and a statement as to whether circulators are being paid. Each signature page must contain the subject expressed in the title of the Act to be referred (ORS § 250.045).
  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state prepares an official template for the cover sheet and signature sheets for each petition (ORS § 250.052).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Paid circulators must register with the secretary of state and complete training. To register as a paid circulator, in the past give years one cannot have been convicted of a crime involving fraud, forgery or identification theft in any state or be subject to a civil penalty due to an election offense. A criminal records check is conducted (ORS § 250.048).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (ORS § 250.045(10)).
  • Paid per signature: Prohibited (Const. Art. IV, § 1b).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (ORS § 260.558).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 4% of the votes cast for all candidates for governor at the last election (Const. Art. IV, § 1(3)).
  • Geographic distribution: None.
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified voters (Const. Art. IV, § 1(3)).
  • Collected in-person: The circulator must witness each signature (OR Rev. Stat. § 250.045).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: After the petitions are submitted for signature verification, individual signatures may not be removed (ORS § 250.025).
  • Verification: The secretary of state shall by rule designate a statistical sampling technique to verify whether a petition contains the required number of signatures (ORS § 250.105).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Not more than 90 days after the end of the session at which the act was passed (Const. Art. IV, § 1(3)).
  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Petitions carried by paid circulators must be filed on a monthly basis (ORS § 250.105).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: If the petitions were filed at least 165 days before the election and the submission deadline has not passed, and the signatures are deemed insufficient, petitioners may submit more signatures (OR Rev. Stat. § 250.105).

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Regular general election, unless otherwise ordered by the legislative assembly (Const. Art. IV, § 1(4)).
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general. The same title that was drafted for the petition also appears on the ballot (ORS § 250.065).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Const. Art. IV, § 1(4)).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Becomes effective 30 days after the day it is approved by a majority of votes (Const. Art. IV, § 1(4)).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 South Dakota

SD flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1898.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Such laws as may be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, support of the state government and its existing public institutions are not subject to referendum (Const. Art. 3, § 1).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Not specified.

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Petition as to be circulated is filed with secretary of state prior to circulation and must include the title of the referred law, the effective date, the date of the election at which it will be submitted. It must be accompanied by a notarized form including the names and addresses of the petition sponsors and the statement of organization provided at 12-27-6 (SDCL § 2-1-3.1).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (SDCL § 2-1-3.1).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Original filing must include a notarized form with the names and addresses of the petition sponsors (SDCL § 2-1-3.1).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Statement of organization must be filed not later than 15 days after the committee made or received contributions or paid expenses in excess of $500; if such activity occurs within 30 days of an election, statement must be filed within 48 hours (SDCL § 12-27-3). Contributions from non-residents of the state, political committees organized outside the state, or an entity that is not filed with the secretary of state for four years preceding the contribution are prohibited (SDCL § 12-27-18.2). Ballot measure committees must file pre-primary, pre-general, year-end and, if applicable, supplemental reports in even-numbered years. In odd-numbered years, year-end reports are required (SDCL § 12-27-22).
  • Withdrawal of petition: May be withdrawn no later than 120 days before the next general election if no less than two-thirds of the petition sponsors file such a request in writing with the secretary of state (SDCL § 2-1-2.3).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Petition includes the title of the referred law (SDCL § 2-1-3.1).
  • What is on each petition: Form of the petition is prescribed by the State Board of Elections. Must include the title and effective date of the referred law, the date of the general election at which it is to be referred. (SDCL § 2-1-3).
  • Who creates petitions: Created by the petition sponsors and must be approved by the secretary of state prior to circulation (SDCL § 2-1-3.1).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: 18 years old and a resident of South Dakota; no registered sex offender may circulate a petition unless the person is in the employ of and under the immediate supervision of another person and under circumstances with preclude any contact with children (SDCL § 12-1-32 through -34).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (SDCL § 2-1-10).
  • Paid per signature: Prohibited (SDCL § 12-13-28). Paid signature gatherers must register with the secretary of state and pay a fee of $20 for each petition they will be paid to circulate (SDCL § 2-1-1.5 through -1.9).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (SDCL § 12-26-15).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 5% of the total votes cast for governor at the last election (Const. Art. 3, § 1 and SDCL § 2-1-1 and 2-1-5).
  • Geographic distribution: None.
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified voters (SDCL § 2-1-6).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (SDCL § 2-1-7).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Not specified.
  • Verification: Random sampling (SDCL § 2-1-16).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Within 90 days of the adjournment of the legislature which passed the law (SDCL § 2-1-3.1).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: General election (SDCL § 2-1-17).
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general (SDCL § 12-13-1.1 and -9).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (SDCL § 2-1-12).
  • Timeline for taking effect: July 1 after the official canvass (SDCL § 2-1-12).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Utah

UT flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1900.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Laws passed by a two-thirds vote of the members of each house are not subject to referendum (Const. Art. VI, § 1 and Utah Code § 20A-7-102).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Does not go into effect unless approved by voters (Const. Art. VI, § 1 and Utah Code § 20A-7-301(2)).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Application must be filed by 5 p.m. within five calendar days after the legislative session ends (Utah Code § 20A-7-302).
  • Where to file: Lieutenant governor (Utah Code § 20A-7-302).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Application must contain the names and addresses of at least five sponsors, certification that each sponsor is a registered voter in Utah and has voted in a regular general election in the last three years, the notarized signature of each sponsor and a copy of the law (Utah Code § 20A-7-302).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Must file a statement of organization as a political issues committee no later than seven days after receiving contributions or making expenditures totaling at least $750, and annually by 5 p.m. on January 10 thereafter, unless it has filed a notice of dissolution (Utah Code § 20A-11-801). Statements of contributions and expenditures must be filed on January 10, seven days before political party conventions, seven days before the primary, three days before public hearings, on September 30, and seven days before the general election (Utah Code § 20A-11-802).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: The title of the act subject to the petition appears on the petition (Utah Code § 20A-7-303).
  • What is on each petition: Petition contains bill number, title of the act, signers statement and warning to signers and circulator verification (Utah Code § 20A-7-303).
  • Who creates petitions: Lieutenant governor provides a copy of the referendum petition and signature sheets; sponsors print additional copies (Utah Code § 20A-7-304).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: At least 18 years old and a Utah resident (Utah Code § 20A-7-303(3)).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Utah Code § 20A-7-303(3)).
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (Utah Code § 20A-7-312(3)).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 8% of the active voters in the state on Jan. 1 following the last regular general election (Utah Code § 20A-7-301(1)).
  • Geographic distribution: From at least 15 counties, signatures equal to 8% of the number of active voters in the county on January 1 following the last regular general election (Utah Code § 20A-7-301(1)).
  • Who can sign the petition: Legal voters (Const. Art. VI, § 1 and Utah Code § 20A-7-102 and 20A-7-305).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (Utah Code § 20A-7-303(3)).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: A voter may have their signature removed by submitting a statement requesting such to the county clerk no later than the earlier of 14 days after the day the voter signs a statement requesting removal or 45 days after the clerk posts the voter's name under 20A-7-306(3)(c). The statement may not be submitted electronically (Utah Code § 20A-7-305).
  • Verification: For each signature, county clerk verifies if the person is a registered voter (Utah Code § 20A-7-306(3) and -306.3).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Must be submitted before 5 p.m. no later than the earlier of 14 days after the first individual signs the petition or 40 days after the legislative session ends (Utah Code § 20A-7-306(1)).
  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Time limit for circulation begins with the first signature on a petition and ends 14 days after that. Time limit may be shorter if circulation begins late, because signatures must be submitted no later than 40 days after the legislative session ends regardless of when signature gathering began (Utah Code § 20A-7-306(1)).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next regular general election or a special election called by the lieutenant governor (Utah Code § 20A-7-301(1)).
  • Ballot title and summary: Lieutenant governor forwards petitions that are qualified for the ballot to the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, who drafts an impartial title of not more than 100 words summarizing the contents of the proposal. The ballot title may be distinct from the title of the law that is the subject of the petition (Utah Code § 20A-7-308).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority (Utah Code § 20A-7-209).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Takes effect five days after the official proclamation of the voter by the governor or the effective date specified in the proposed law, whichever is later (Utah Code § 20A-7-311).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

 Washington

WA flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1912.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Such laws as may be necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, safety or support of the state government and its existing public institutions are not subject to referendum (Const. Art. II, § 1(b)).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: No act, law or bill subject to referendum shall take effect until 90 days after the adjournment of the session at which it was enacted (Const. Art. II, § 1(c)).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Any legal voter of the state may file with the secretary of state a legible copy of the part of such act on which a referendum is desired, an affidavit that the sponsor is a registered voter and a filing fee in an amount to be established by the secretary of state (RCW § 29A.72.010). Secretary of state must establish by rule and collect filing fees (RCW § 43.07.120).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (Const. Art. II, § 1(b)).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Sponsor must file an affidavit that s/he is a registered voter (RCW § 29A.72.010). 
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Must file a statement of organization as a political committee within two weeks of organizing or within two weeks of the date the first contribution or expenditure is expected (RCW § 42.17A.205). Reports of contributions and expenditures are due on the 21st and seventh days immediately preceding an election and the 10th day of the first full month after an election. Monthly reports are due on the 10th for any preceding month in which total contributions received or total expenditures made exceed $200 (RCW § 42.17A.235). Out-of-state committees that make expenditures supporting or opposing ballot propositions in Washington are required to file reports (RCW § 42.17A.250). Sponsors of advertising must file a report within 24 hours of the time the advertisement is published, mailed or otherwise revealed to the public if the advertisement qualifies as an independent expenditure or has a fair market value or actual cost of $1,000 or more (RCW § 42.17A.260). Contributions in excess of $1,000 from a single contributor received during the 21 days prior to the election must be reported (RCW § 42.17A.265).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Attorney general (RCW § 29A.72.060). Ballot title appears on the petition (RCW § 29A.72.120).
  • What is on each petition: Must include the full text of the measure and the title drafted by the attorney general, signers’ statement and circulator's declaration (RCW § 29A.72.100 and .130) .
  • Who creates petitions: Sponsors (RCW § 29A.72.100).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Registered voter (RCW § 29A.72.120 and .130).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (RCW § 29A.72.030).
  • Paid per signature: Yes.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (RCW § 29A.84.250).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 4% of the votes cast for the office of governor at the last election (Const. Art. II, § 1(b) and RCW § 29A.72.150).
  • Geographic distribution: None.
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered voters (Const. Art. II, § 1 (b) and RCW § 29A. 72.130).
  • Collected in-person: Yes; petition includes language verifying that each person has "personally signed" (RCW § 29A.72.130).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Not specified.
  • Verification: The secretary of state may use any statistical sampling techniques for this verification and canvass which have been adopted by rule as provided by chapter 34.05 RCW.  (RCW § 29A.72.230).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Not later than 90 days after the final adjournment of the legislature; if the deadline falls on a Saturday, the office of the secretary of state must be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day (Const. Art. II, § 1(d) and RCW § 29A.72.030 and .160).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: Next succeeding general election, except when the legislature shall order a special election (Const. Art. II, § 1(d) and RCW § 29A.72.030).
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general (RCW § 29A. 72.050 and .060).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: None.

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Majority, provided that the votes cast on the measure shall equal at least one-third of the total votes cast at the election (Const. Art. II, § 1(d)).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after the election at which it was approved (Const. Art. II, § 1(d)).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No act, law or bill approved by a majority of the electors voting thereon shall be amended or repealed by the legislature within a period of two years following such enactment unless by a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house. No amendatory law adopted in accordance with this provision shall be subject to referendum. But such enactment may be amended or repealed at any general regular or special election by direct vote of the people thereon (Const. Art. II, § 1(c)).

 Wyoming

WY flag

Popular Referendum Categories

Year Established

  • Year Established: 1968.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Subject restrictions: Referendum shall not apply to dedications of revenue, to appropriations, to local or special legislation or to laws necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety (Const. Art. 3, § 52(g) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-401).
  • Does the law in question take effect before the referendum vote: Not specified.

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: File with the secretary of state an application containing the act to be referred. Must be signed by at least 100 qualified voters as sponsors. A fee of $500 is required; fee is deposited in general fund (Const. Art. 3, § 52(b) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-402).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (Const. Art. 3, § 52(b) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-402).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: A committee of three applicants must be designated to represent the sponsors in all matters pertaining to the petition. Names and addresses of sponsors must be listed, and they must sign to verify that they are registered voters (Wyo. Stat. § 24-22-403).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Must file a statement of formation as a political action committee within 10 days of formation (Wyo. Stat. § 22-25-101). Reports of contributions received, and expenditures made must be filed at least seven days before any primary, special or general election (Wyo. Stat. § 22-25-106).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Not specified.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Secretary of state (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-407).
  • What is on each petition: Contains a summary of the subject matter, warning to signers and a statement as to paid circulators (Const. Art. 3, § 52(c) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-407).
  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-407).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: US citizen and at least 18 years of age (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-405).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavit required: Yes (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-411).
  • Paid per signature: Not specified.
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-420).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 15% of the total vote cast in the last election (Const. Art. 3, § 52(c)(i)).
  • Geographic distribution: 15% of the total vote cast in the last election in at least of two-thirds of counties (Const. Art. 3, § 52(c)(ii).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified registered voters (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-408 and -410).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-409).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Any signer may withdraw their signature by giving their name, address and contact information to the secretary of state before the petition is filed (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-410).
  • Verification: Not specified (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-413).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Submission deadline for signatures: Within 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session at which it was passed (Const. Art. 3, § 52(e) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-412).
  • Cure period for insufficient signatures: None.

Qualifying for the Ballot

  • Which election: First statewide election held more than 180 days after adjournment of the legislative session (Const. Art. 3, § 52(e) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-416).
  • Ballot title and summary: Secretary of state (Const. Art. 3, § 52(e)) with the assistance of the attorney general (Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-414).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: 180 days must pass after adjournment of the legislature and the election (Const. Art. 3, § 52(e) and Wyo. Stat. § 22-24-416).

The Election and Effect

  • Vote requirement for passage: Over 50% of those voting in the general election (Const. Art. 3, § 52(f)).
  • Timeline for taking effect: An act rejected by referendum is void 30 days after certification. (Const. Art. 3, § 52(f)).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: None.

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Specific Types

States with citizen initiatives (24): Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

States may have the direct initiative, the indirect initiative or the choice of either.

In the indirect initiative process, a proposed initiative is referred to the legislature after proponents have gathered the required number of signatures. The legislature has the option to enact, defeat or amend the measure. Depending on the legislature's action, the proponents may continue to pursue placement on the ballot for a popular vote. In three states (Massachusetts, Ohio and Utah), proponents must gather additional signatures to place the measure on the ballot; in the others, it automatically goes to the ballot.

For direct initiatives, proponents collect signatures and place the measure directly on the ballot once it’s certified and verified.

States with direct initiatives (19): Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington

States with indirect initiatives (10): Alaska, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, Ohio, Utah, Washington, Wyoming

States with popular referendums (23): Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Idaho, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington Wyoming.

Year Established:
Citizen Initiative

Alaska: 1956
Arizona: 1911
Arkansas: 1910
California: 1911
Colorado: 1912
Florida: 1972
Idaho: 1912
Illinois: 1970
Maine: 1908
Massachusetts: 1918
Michigan: 1908
Mississippi: 1914
Missouri: 1908
Montana: 1904
Nebraska: 1912
Nevada: 1905
North Dakota: 1914
Ohio: 1912
Oklahoma: 1907
Oregon: 1902
South Dakota: 1898
Utah: 1900
Washington 1912
Wyoming: 1968

Subject Matter Restrictions and Repeating a Measure

States may limit the subject matter of ballot measures. States may apply a single-subject rule or other restrictions. States sometimes limit how soon a measure can be re-attempted.

Single-Subject Rule

Fifteen states follow a single-subject rule:

  • Alaska (AS § 15.45.040)
  • Arizona (for constitutional amendments, not statutes) (A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1; CV–16–0314-SA)
  • California (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8)
  • Colorado (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Florida (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Missouri (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50)
  • Montana (MT CONST Art. 5, § 11; Art. 5, § 11; MACo v. The State of Montana, MT 267 [2017])
  • Nebraska (Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 2)
  • Nevada (N.R.S. 295.009)
  • Ohio (O.R.C. § 3519.01)
  • Oklahoma (OK Const. Art. 5, § 57; Art. 24, § 1)
  • Oregon (OR CONST Art. IV, § 1)
  • Utah (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202; U.C.A. 1953, Const. Art. 6, § 22)
  • Washington (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 19; Amalgamated Transit Union Local 597 v. State of Washington, 11 P.3d 762 [2000])
  • Wyoming (Const. Art. 3, § 24)

Nine states do not have a single-subject rule:

Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Additional Subject Restrictions

Aside from single-subject rules, seven states have no additional subject restrictions on what can be in initiatives: Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Oklahoma, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

Other states vary when it comes to restrictions, ranging from specific vote thresholds on certain topics to disallowing certain issues. Some states limit the number of sections of code or the constitution that may be altered. Seventeen states have subject matter limitations other than the single-subject rule:

State Citation Content

Alaska

AS § 15.45.010

Dedicate revenue, repeal appropriations, create courts, define court rules or jurisdictions, or enact local or special legislation.

Arizona

A.R.S. Const. Art. 9 § 23

If includes expenditures, must also include sufficient increased revenue sources that cannot come from general fund.

California

Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8, § 12

Measure provisions cannot be dependent upon meeting certain vote percentage. And no measure that names an individual to hold office or names private corporation to perform any function.

Florida

F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 3

Amendments that propose a tax or fee not in place in November 1994 require a two-thirds vote to pass.

Illinois

ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3 and see Coalition for Political Honesty v. State Board of Elections (1976)

May only amend structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV.

Maine

M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 19

If there are insufficient state funds and the measure does not provide a source, it is effective 45 days after next regular legislative session.

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 2; M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 74

Must contain only subjects that are related or mutually dependent. Cannot relate to: religion, the judiciary, specific appropriations, local or special legislation, the 18th amendment of the constitution, anything inconsistent with the Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

Michigan

M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9

The initiative power extends only to laws which the legislature may enact.

Mississippi

MS Const. Art. 15, § 273

May not repeal/modify the state's Bill of Rights, amend/repeal provisions relating to the state's public employees' retirement system, amend/repeal right-to-work provision or modify the initiative process, and special rules if includes expenditures.

Missouri

V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50, 51

No appropriations or other new revenues not provided for in the measure.

Montana

MT CONST Art. 3, § 4; Art. 5, § 11; Art. 14, § 11

No amendment may change more than one section, no appropriations, and no local or special laws.

Nebraska

Nebraska Const. Art. 3, Sec. 2; Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1408

Limited to matters that can be enacted by legislation, and no measures that interfere with the legislature’s ability to direct taxation of necessary revenues.

Nevada

N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 3; Art. 16, § 6; N.R.S. 295.009

Cannot require an expenditure of money unless a sufficient tax is provided.

North Dakota

NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 5

Cannot stop emergency laws passed by the legislature or appropriations to support state departments or institutions.

Ohio

OH Const. Art. II, § 1e

Cannot "pass a law authorizing any classification of property for the purpose of levying different rates of taxation thereon or of authorizing the levy of any single tax on land or land values or land sites at a higher rate or by a different rule than is or may be applied to improvements thereon or to personal property."

South Dakota

Const. Art. 3, § 23

No private or special laws.

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52

Cannot dedicate revenues, make or repeal appropriations, create courts, define the jurisdiction of courts, prescribe court rules, enact local or special legislation, or enact legislation prohibited y the Wyoming constitution.

Repeating a Measure

Seventeen states do not provide for any limitation on attempting to repeat a specific measure: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota and Washington.

Of course, in some of the above states, timelines concerning filing, signature gathering and deadlines for signatures and the indirect initiative process may impose limits not otherwise spelled out in statute.

Seven states impose explicit limits for how much time must pass before a measure is re-attempted, ranging from 12 months to five years:

State Citation Content

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3

Cannot be same as a measure at either of the two preceding biennial state elections.

Mississippi

MS Const. Art. 15, § 273; Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-43

Two years.

Nebraska

Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 2

May only be attempted once every three years.

North Dakota

NDCC, 16.1-01-11

More than two elections on the “same general matter” cannot be held within 12 months.

Oklahoma

OK Const. Art. 5, § 6; 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 21

For three years, measures can only be proposed again by signatures totaling 25%of total votes cast for governor last election, and special rule for competing measures.

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202

Two years.

Wyoming

W.S.1977 § 22-24-301

Five years on any measure that is "substantially the same as that defeated by" the previous measure.

Petition Application Process

Most states require proponents of a proposed law to follow guidelines. These guidelines may include an application process, registering a certain number of sponsors, submitting the full text and an explanation of the measure, affidavits, the office or offices to file with, registering a proponent or opposition organization, campaign finance issues and the process for withdrawing an initiative.

Application and Filing Requirements

Seven states require filing an initial number of signatures or registering of sponsors as part of an application to fully circulate an initiative:

State Citation Number of Signatures to File

Alaska

AS § 15.45.020; 15.45.030

100

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1804, § 34-1809

20

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A. § 901

5

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3

10

North Dakota

NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 2

25

Ohio

O.R.C. § 3519.01; 3519.02; 3513.10

1,000

Oregon

O.R.S. § 250.045; 250.052

1,000–2,000

Four states require a filing fee in statute:

State Citation Fee Amount

Alaska

AS § 15.45.020; 15.45.030

$100

Ohio

O.R.C. § 3519.01; 3519.02; 3513.10

Unspecified amount

Washington

RCWA 29A.72.010; 43.07.120; 29A.72.020; 29A.72.040

Unspecified amount

Wyoming

W.S.1977 § 22-24-302; § 22-24-303

$500

Eighteen states require proponents to file application materials with the state’s secretary of state:

  • Arizona (A.R.S. § 19-111)
  • Arkansas (AR Const. Art. 5, § 1; A.C.A. § 7-9-104)
  • California (Cal.Elec.Code § 9001, 9004; Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8)
  • Colorado (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-105)
  • Idaho (§ 34-1804)
  • Maine (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18 and 21-A M.R.S.A. § 901)
  • Massachusetts (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3)
  • Michigan (M.C.L.A. 168.471 and M.C.L.A. 168.472)
  • Mississippi (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-1)
  • Missouri (V.A.M.S. 116.332)
  • Montana (MCA 13-27-202)
  • Nebraska (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405)
  • Nevada (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 1)
  • North Dakota (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 2)
  • Oklahoma (OK Const. Art. 5, § 3; 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8)
  • Oregon (OR CONST Art. IV, § 1)
  • South Dakota (SDCL § 12-13-25.1; 12-13-26; 2-1-1-1; 2-1-1-2)
  • Wyoming (W.S.1977 § 22-24-302)

Two states require proponents to file application materials with the lieutenant governor:

  • Alaska (AS § 15.45.020)
  • Utah (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202)

Five states require proponents to file application materials with the attorney general:

  • California (Cal.Elec.Code § 9001, 9004; Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8)
  • Idaho (I.C. § 34-1804, § 34-1809)
  • Massachusetts (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3)
  • Ohio (O.R.C. § 3519.01)
  • South Dakota (SDCL § 12-13-25.1; 12-13-26)

Four states require filing with another entity:

State Citation Filing with Other

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 1-40-105

Legislative council

Florida

F.S.A. § 106.03

Division of Elections

Illinois

10 ILCS 5/28-9

None listed, but must register organization with board of elections.

South Dakota

SDCL § 12-13-25.1; 12-13-26

Legislative Research Council

Campaign Finance

All 24 citizen initiative states require political organizations supporting or opposing a ballot measure—almost always considered political action committees—to follow state campaign finance laws. These include filing reports and designating organization officers. The following is not a legal, comprehensive list of every campaign finance law governing the initiative process in each state, but rather provides a starting guide of where to find relevant statutes:

  • Alaska: AS § 15.13.040; § 15.13.050; § 15.13.065; § 15.13.110
  • Arizona: A.R.S. § 16-906, § 16-926
  • Arkansas: A.C.A. § 7-9-404; 405; 406; 407; 408; 409
  • California: Cal.Gov.Code § 82013, 84200, 84202.3, 85309, 84511, 84101, Cal.Elec.Code § 18680; Form 460
  • Colorado: C.R.S.A. § 1-45-103, § 1-45-108.3, § 1-45-111.5§ 1-45-117
  • Florida: F.S.A. § 106.08, § 106.19
  • Idaho: I.C. § 67-6602, § 67-6607
  • Illinois: 10 ILCS 5/9-15
  • Maine: 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1051, 1052, 1052-A, 1053-B, 1054, 1054-A, 1055, 1055-A, 1056, 1056-A, 1056-B, 1057, 1058, 1059, 1060, 1062-A, 1062-B
  • Massachusetts: M.G.L.A. 55 § 1, § 6B, § 7A, § 18C, § 18
  • Michigan: M.C.L.A. 169.234; 169.247
  • Mississippi: Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-47; § 23-17-49; § 23-17-51; § 23-17-53
  • Missouri: V.A.M.S. 130.110; 130.120; 130.029; 130.046; 130.041
  • Montana: MCA 13-27-112; 13-27-113
  • Nebraska: Neb.Rev.St. § 49-1401
  • Nevada: N.R.S. Const. Art. 2, § 10; N.R.S. 295.009; 294A.150; 294A.220
  • North Dakota: NDCC, 16.1-08.1-02.4; 16.1-08.1-03.1; 16.1-08.1-03.2
  • Ohio: O.R.C. § 3517.01, .08, .10, .11, 12, .13, .20, .092, .093, .102, .105; O.H.R. § 3599.03
  • Oklahoma: 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 2; 21 Okl.St.Ann. § 187; Okl.St.Ann. Rule 2.36; Okl.St.Ann. Rule 2.79; Oklahoma Ethics Commission's Guide for Political Action Committees
  • Oregon: O.R.S. § 250.045; § 260.035; § 260.054
  • South Dakota: SDCL § 12-27-22; SDCL § 12-27-3
  • Utah: U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-11-101; § 20A-11-801; § 20A-11-802; § 20A-11-803
  • Washington: RCWA 42.17A.005; 42.17A; 42.17A.205
  • Wyoming: W.S.1977 § 22-1-102; § 22-24-201; § 22-24-306

Withdrawing an Initiative

Nine states have an explicit process for withdrawal of an initiative from circulation:

State Citation Petition Withdrawal Process

California

Cal.Elec.Code § 9033, 9604

Proponents may any time before measure qualifies for the ballot, 131 days before the general statewide election.

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 1-40-134

File a letter with secretary of state, signed by designated representatives, no later than 60 days prior to the election.

Illinois

10 ILCS 5/28-3

Only before submissions.

Missouri

V.A.M.S. 116.115

The sponsor may file a written notice to withdraw the initiative with the secretary of state.

Nebraska

N.R.S. AB 45; 30

One of three authorized people must submit a notice of withdrawal with the secretary of state.

Ohio

O.R.C. § 3519.08

Any time more than 70 days before the election, a majority of the committee members may withdraw the petition by writing to the secretary of state.

Oklahoma

34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8

Any time before the final submission of signatures, the delegated proponents may write to the secretary of state to withdraw.

Oregon

O.R.S. § 250.029

The chief petitioners may withdraw at any time before submitting the total number of signatures for verification. All of the chief petitioners must sign the form to withdraw.

South Dakota

SDCL § 2-1-2.3

May remove no later than 120 days prior to the next general election.

Fourteen states do not have any process for withdrawal: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

Petition Content

In every state, petitions must follow guidelines, which vary by state. Petitions always include a title and/or summary of the proposed measure, although who writes this information varies. Several states require two officials to write or review the title and/or summary, given their importance to a ballot measure.

Petition sheets also always include space for signatures. Other requirements may include a legal warning, a statement that the petition circulator is paid, a summary of the proposed measure, the full text of the measure, the county or district where the signature was collected and more.

Who Writes the Title and Summary of Proposed Measures

Seventeen states have at least one government official draft or review the petition title and/or summary, while proponents draft this language in nine states. Details on who or which offices write the title and summary are listed below:

State Citation Who Drafts Title and/or Summary

Alaska

AS § 15.45.090

Lieutenant governor

Arizona

A.R.S. § 19-102; § 19-111

Proponents

Arkansas

A.C.A. § 7-9-107

Proponents

California

Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 10; Cal.Elec.Code § 9004

Attorney general

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 1-40-106, § 1-40-124.5

Title board, comprised of secretary of state, attorney general and director of the office of legislative legal services

Florida

F.S.A. § 101.161

Prepared by sponsor, approved by secretary of state. Attorney general writes title and summary if original is challenged in court.

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1809

Attorney general

Illinois

ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3

Proponents, no explicit statute

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A. § 901 and 1 M.R.S.A. § 353

Secretary of state, revisor of statutes and attorney general

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3; M.G.L.A. 54 § 53

Attorney general certifies submitted title and measure and summary by secretary of state, with attorney general oversight.

Michigan

M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 12, § 2

None specified for title, and summary "prepared by the person authorized by law."

Mississippi

Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-7; § 23-17-9; § 23-17-15

Attorney general

Missouri

V.A.M.S. 116.180; V.A.M.S. 116.334

Secretary of state and approved by attorney general

Montana

MCA 13-27-312

Proponents, approved or rewritten by attorney general

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405

Proponents

Nevada

N.R.S. 295.015; 295.009

Proponent, with possibility of being amended by statute

North Dakota

NDCC, 16.1-01-07

Secretary of state and approved by the attorney general

Ohio

O.R.C. § 3519.21; 3519.01; 3519.03

Secretary of state, official committee that filed and approved by attorney general.

Oklahoma

34 Okl.St.Ann. § 3; § 8

Proponents; a simple “statement of the gist” of the measure is included on the petition.

Oregon

O.R.S. § 250.045; § 250.067; § 250.035; § 250.036; § 250.075

Attorney general drafts ballot titles and certifies statements.

South Dakota

SDCL § 12-13-25.1

Attorney general, after receiving written comments from the Legislative Research Council

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202; 20A-7-203

Proponents

Washington

RCWA 29A.72.060

Attorney general

Wyoming

W.S.1977 § 22-24-310

Secretary of state

Statutes on Petition Contents

States include a range of requirements for petition contents including legal warnings, serial numbers provided by officials, notarization, date of the election the measure is to be voted upon, the measure’s full text, summary, the district or county where the signature was gathered, if the circulator is paid, fiscal statement abstract, affidavit of circulator, circulator information, rights of the potential signer, names of proponents or proponent organization, statement of the proponent organization and deadline for signatures. Statutes for petition contents for each state:

  • Alaska: AS § 15.45.090
  • Arizona: A.R.S. § 19-102
  • Arkansas: A.C.A. § 7-9-108
  • California: Cal.Elec.Code § 9008, 9009, 9012
  • Colorado: CRS § 1-40-110, § 1-40-105.5
  • Florida: F.S.A. § 106.19, § 100.371, § 120.54
  • Idaho: I.C. § 34-1801a, § 34-1804, § 34-1809
  • Illinois: ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3, 10 ILCS 5/28-2
  • Maine: 21-A MRSA § 901, 903
  • Massachusetts: M.G.L.A. 53 § 22A; M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3
  • Michigan: M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 12, § 2; M.C.L.A. 168.482; 168.544c
  • Mississippi: Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-17; § 23-17-19
  • Missouri: V.A.M.S. 116.050; 116.050
  • Montana: MCA 13-27-201; 13-27-202; 13-27-204; 13-27-207
  • Nebraska: Neb.Rev.St. § 32-1401; § 32-1405; § 32-628; § 32-1403
  • Nevada: N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 3; N.R.S. 295.055; 295.009
  • North Dakota: NDCC, 16.1-01-07; 16.1-01-09
  • Ohio: OH Const. Art. II, § 1g; O.R.C. § 3501.38; 3519.05
  • Oklahoma: OK Const. Art. 5, § 2; 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 2
  • Oregon: O.R.S. § 250.015; § 250.052; § 250.045
  • South Dakota: SDCL § 2-1-1.1; § 2-1-1.2; South Dakota Administrative Rules 5:02:08:07
  • Utah: U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-203
  • Washington: RCWA 29A.72.120; 29A.72.110
  • Wyoming: W.S.1977 § 22-24-304; § 22-24-310; § 22-24-311

Circulators

Individuals who physically gather signatures are referred to as circulators.

General Requirements

Every state includes requirements for circulators operating in the state. The most common requirements: that they be at least 18 years old, a citizen, a registered voter and/or a resident of the state.

State 18 years old Citizen Legal Qualified Voter State Resident Register Not Allowed

Alaska

     

Arizona

       

County recorder or justice of the peace. Cannot have had a civil or criminal penalty for a violation of election code in the last five years; been convicted of treason or a felony and not restored civil rights; been convicted of any criminal offense involving fraud, forgery or identity theft.

Arkansas

      Criminal background check done for paid circulators with additional restrictions.

California

         

Colorado

   

✓*

 

Florida

           

Idaho

       

Illinois

       

Maine

       

Massachusetts

           

Michigan

       

Mississippi

     

✓**

 

Individuals who cannot vote

Missouri

     

Cannot be a person once convicted of, or who has pled guilty to crimes involving forgery

Montana

         

Nebraska

         

Nevada

         

North Dakota

       

Ohio

       

Oklahoma

   

Criminal background check done for paid circulators with additional restrictions

Oregon

         

Cannot in last five years have been convicted of a crime involving fraud, forgery, or identification theft or subject to a civil penalty due to an election offense

South Dakota

       

Utah

       

Washington

         

Wyoming

       

For citation information, please contact the NCSL Elections and Redistricting team.

*While the Colorado residency requirement for circulators was struck down in Independence Institute v. Gessler, the court upheld the requirement that a circulator present to the notary a specific type of identification.
**Residency requirement was struck down by Term Limits Leadership Council v. Clark (1997).

Two states require circulators to attend a training:

  • Colorado (C.R.S. § 1-40-112; § 1-40-135)
  • Oregon (OR Rev. Stat. § 250.048)

Affidavits or Sworn Oaths

Twenty-two states require circulators or proponents to sign affidavits or other sworn statements as to the accuracy or authenticity of the petitions:

  • Alaska (AS § 15.45.130)
  • Arizona (A.R.S. § 19-118; § 19-121)
  • Arkansas (Arkansas Const. Art. 5  § 1)
  • California (Elections Code §§ 104, 9022)
  • Colorado (C.R.S. § 1-40-111)
  • Florida (FLA. STAT. 3 § 100.371)
  • Idaho (I.C. § 34-1807)
  • Illinois (10 ILCS 5/28-3)
  • Maine (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 19; 21-A MRSA §903-A, sub-§§4)
  • Michigan (M.C.L.A. 168.482, 168.544c)
  • Missouri (V.A.M.S. § 116.080)
  • Montana (MCA § 13-27-302)
  • Nebraska (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-628; § 32-1546)
  • Nevada (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 3; Nev. Rev. Stat. § 295.0575)
  • North Dakota (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 3; NDCC, 16.1-01-09)
  • Ohio (O.R.C. § 3501.38)
  • Oklahoma (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 6)
  • Oregon (O.R.S. § 250.045)
  • South Dakota (DCL § 2-1-1.2)
  • Utah (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-203)
  • Washington (RCWA 29A.72.010; 29A.72.120)
  • Wyoming (W.S.1977 § 22-24-314)

Several of these states require such information to be included on the signature petition sheets.  

Paying Circulators

Several states have or had statutory bans on paying circulators either per signature or in general. Most of these bans have been overturned by the courts.

Furthermore, statutes allowing or requiring paying per signature have been overturned by the courts. There has been one exception: The case Initiative and Referendum Institute v. Jaeger (2001) in North Dakota upheld the ban on paying per signature.

South Dakota has a unique statute regarding pay: may pay based on hourly wage or salary, express or implied minimum signature requirements for the circulator to meet, may terminate someone's employment if they do not meet "certain productivity requirements," and may pay “discretionary bonuses based on reliability, longevity, and productivity.” (SDCL § 12-13-28)

Signatures

All citizen initiatives require the collection of a certain number of signatures, although states vary in the number of signatures and the baseline used to determine that number. Some states also include signatures to be gathered from across the state, although some of these requirements have been found to be unconstitutional. Every state also includes requirements as to how the authenticity of signatures are verified, and constitutional amendments often require more signatures than statutory changes.

Some states have what's called an indirect initiative process. In these states, sponsors gather a smaller number of signatures to reach the first stage of qualification and, once enough valid signatures are gathered to meet this threshold, the initiative goes before the state legislature. If the legislature enacts the proposal, no further petition takes place and the proposal becomes law. If the legislature fails to enact the proposal as written, sponsors then go through a second stage of signature gathering. Massachusetts, Ohio and Utah use this sort of process.

Missouri and Nebraska have unique signature requirements. In Missouri, signature requirements are based entirely on congressional districts. The requirement states that a petition must garner valid signatures from six of the state's nine congressional districts that equal 5 % (for a statutory proposal) or 8% (for a constitutional proposal) of the votes cast for governor in that district in the last election. That means the total number of signatures required for ballot access will vary depending upon which congressional districts sponsors put together to reach the total of six .

In Nebraska, the total number of signatures is based upon the total number of registered voters in the state. Since the total number of registered voters is constantly changing, with new voters being added and ineligible voters being removed, that presents a dilemma for the state. The state must essentially pick a point in time at which to capture a snapshot of the total number of registered voters.

Number of Signatures Required

State Citation Signatures Required

Alaska

AS § 15.45.140

Ten% of total votes cast in previous general election with geographic requirement

Arizona

A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1

Ten% of votes cast for all candidates for governor in previous election for statutes; 15% for amendments

Arkansas

Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1

Eight% of the total number of legal voters for statutes; 10% for amendments

California

Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8

Five% of votes cast for governor in last election for statutes or ;  8% for amendments

Colorado

C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1

Five% of votes cast for secretary of state in last election

Florida

F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 3

Eight% of total votes cast statewide in last presidential election

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1805

Six% of qualified electors at the time of the last general election

Illinois

ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3

Eight% of votes cast for governor in last gubernatorial election

Maine

M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18

Ten% of total votes cast for governor in last gubernatorial election

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4, § 2; Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 1

Three% of votes cast for governor at preceding biennial state election to submit to the legislature. If the legislature does not enact the statute, another round of signatures is required equaling 0.5% of votes for governor.

Michigan

M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9; Const. Art. 12, § 2

For statute, 8% of total votes cast for governor in last general election. For amendments, 10% of total votes cast for governor.

Mississippi

MS Const. Art. 15, § 273

Twelve% of total votes cast in last gubernatorial race for governor

Missouri

V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50; Art. 3, § 53

For statutory, 5% of total vote for governor in last election in each of two-thirds of the state's congressional districts. For constitutional amendments, 8% of total vote for governor in last election in each of two-thirds of the state's congressional districts.

Montana

MT CONST Art. 3, § 4; Art. 14, § 9; Art. 14, § 10

For statutes, 5% of total qualified electors of the state, determined by the number of votes cast for governor in the preceding general election. For amendments, 10% of total qualified electors of the state.

Nebraska

Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 2; § 4

For statutory initiatives, 7% of votes cast for governor in last election. For constitutional amendments, 10% of votes cast for governor in last election.

Nevada

N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2

Ten% of votes cast in last general election

North Dakota

NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 4; Art. 3, § 9*

For statutory initiatives, 2% of residential population according to the last federal decennial census. For constitutional amendment initiatives, 4% of resident population.

Ohio

OH Const. Art. II, § 1b and 1g; O.R.C. § 3519.22

For constitutional amendments, 10% of votes cast for governor in last election. For indirect statutory initiatives, 3% of votes cast for governor in last election to submit to the legislator. Another 3% is required to qualify for the ballot if not enacted by the legislature after four months.

Oklahoma

OK Const. Art. V, § 2

For statutory initiatives, 8 % of legal voters who cast ballots for governor in last election. For constitutional amendments, 15% of legal voters.

Oregon

OR CONST Art. IV, § 1

For statutory initiatives, 6% of total votes cast for all candidates for governor in last general election. For constitutional amendments, 8% of total votes cast for all candidates for governor in last general election.

South Dakota

Const. Art. 3, § 1 and SDCL § 2-1-5

Not more than 5% of qualified electors, based on total number of votes cast for governor at last preceding gubernatorial elections.

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-201; § 20A-7-208

For indirect initiatives submitted to the legislature, 4% of the number of active voters in the state on Jan. 1 immediately following the last regular general election. For direct initiatives, 8% of the number of active voters in the state on Jan. 1 immediately following the last regular general election. If the legislature does not enact the proposition, then proponents may collect the additional 5% signatures required to get the measure onto the ballot.

Washington

RCWA 29A.72.150

Eight% of votes cast for the office of governor at last regular gubernatorial election prior to submission of the signatures for verification.

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52

Fifteen% of total ballots cast in previous general election.

* See also: 2011 N.D. Op.Atty.Gen. No. L-04, 2011 WL 1130010 (July 5, 2011)

Geographic Requirements

To make it more difficult to place initiatives on the ballot and to ensure initiatives do not represent just the interests of heavily populated areas, some states have created a requirement that signatures be gathered from across the state. The criteria for these requirements vary wildly. Some have been found to be unconstitutional, largely on “one person, one vote” grounds. States with geographic requirements using entities that are unequal in population, such as counties or even state legislative districts, are more likely to have the requirement challenged in court (for example, see Montana). Geographic entities based on U.S. House districts, which are required to be highly equal in population, have been ruled to be constitutional (for example, see Nevada). Ten states do not have a geographic requirement; 14 states do.

State Citation Geographic Requirement

Alaska

AS § 15.45.140

From three-fourths of house districts of the state with signatures from each district equaling at least 7% of the total votes from preceding general election.

Arkansas

Ark. Const. Art. V, § 1

From 15 different counties, with each county’s petition having signatures of at least half of the designated percentage of electors of the county.

Colorado

C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1

For constitutional amendments, signatures must be gathered from at least 2% of the total registered electors in each state senate district.*

Florida

F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 3

Signatures in each of one-half of the 27 congressional districts of the state.

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1805

Si % of the qualified electors at the time of the last general election in each of at least 18 legislative districts, out of 35 total districts.

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Gen. Prov., Pt. 2

No more than one-quarter of signatures may come from a single county.

Mississippi

MS Const. Art. 15, § 273

The maximum number of signatures counted from any individual congressional district is one-fifth of the total number required.

Missouri

V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50; V.A.M.S. 116.060

In each of two-thirds of the congressional districts, and each petition page must only contain signatures from a singular county.

Montana

MT CONST Art. 14, § 9.

MT CONST Art. 3, § 4.

For constitutional amendments, signatures must be gathered from 10% of qualified electors in each of two-fifths (40) of the state's 100 legislative districts. For initiated state statutes or veto referendums, signatures must be gathered from 5% of qualified electors in each of one-third (34) of the state's 100 legislative districts.

Nebraska

Neb. Const. Art. III, § 2; Bernbeck v. Gale, 59 F.Supp.3d 949 (2014); 829 F.3d 643, United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit.

A requirement for 5% of the registered voters in two-fifths of the counties each was held unconstitutional, but that case was vacated because of an issue of standing.

Nevada

N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada v. Loma (2006); N.R.S. 295.012; 293.069; 304.060; 304.120; Angle v. Miller, 2010, 722 F.Supp.2d 1206.

Original geographical requirement found unconstitutional. Revised statutes now require that signatures be equally collected among all the petition districts (congressional districts). This was held to be constitutional.

Ohio

OH Const. Art. II, § 1

For indirect statutory initiatives, signatures must be collected from at least 44 of 88 counties, equaling 1.5% of the votes cast for governor in each county in the previous election. For constitutional amendments, from 44 of 88 counties, signatures from 5% of the votes cast for governor in each county in the previous election.

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-201

From each of at least 26 Utah state Senate districts, legal signatures equal to 4% for indirect or 8% for direct initiatives of the number of active voters in that district on Jan. 1 immediately following the last regular general election.

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52

Fifteen% of those residing in at least two-thirds of the counties of the state, as determined by those who voted in the preceding general election in that county.

* Under court challenge.

Verification

States vary a great deal in how they verify collected signatures. States such as Alaska (AS § 15.45.150); Idaho (I.C. § 34-1813); and Maine (21-A M.R.S.A. § 902) concisely require the counting and verification of signatures, without detailed guidance.

Most state statutes include some type of sampling, such as in the cases of Arizona (A.R.S. § 19-121.01); California (Elections Code § 9030); and Colorado (C.R.S. § 1-40-116).

Withdrawal of a Signature

Nine states do not include a process in statute for an individual to withdraw his or her signature. Most states only allow an individual to withdraw a signature before the official filing of the petitions. There are exceptions, such as in Mississippi, where someone can withdraw a signature if it was signed as a result of fraud, coercion, or being intentional mislead as to the substance or effect of the petition (Miss. Code § 23-17-60). Formal processes vary greatly, such as the requirement of a formal sworn statement in Missouri (V.A.M.S. § 116.110) to the simple crossing out of one’s name in Idaho (I.C. § 34-1803B).

Submission Timelines

Indirect initiatives can require two rounds of signature gathering, so timelines and deadlines for these are more complex. In three states (Massachusetts, Ohio and Utah), proponents must gather additional signatures to place the measure on the ballot after the first round. In the others, the measure goes directly to the ballot after it is submitted to the legislature. Each state has a unique way of handling the timeline and deadline for signature gathering.

Timeline and Submission Deadlines for Collecting Signatures

State Citation Timeline

Alaska

AS § 15.45.140

Filed within one year of receiving notice that petitions are ready.

Arizona

A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1; A.R.S. § 19-121

Not more than 24 months for collection with a deadline of four months before the election, and by 5 p.m. on the final day.

Arkansas

Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1; A.C.A. § 7-9-111

Unlimited, but if number of filed signatures is deemed insufficient, sponsors have 30 days to collect more. And must be filed four months before election.

California

Cal.Elec.Code § 9014; § 9016; Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8

From official summary date by attorney general, 180 days to collect and must be filed at least 131 days prior to the next general election the measure is to be voted on.

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 1-40-106; § 1-40-107; § 1-40-108

Six months to turn in signatures once petitions have been titled and certified for circulation, and filed no later than three months and three weeks before the election and made by 3 p.m. on the day of filing.

Florida

F.S.A. § 100.371

Signatures are valid for two years, but a petition can circulate indefinitely, and filed at least 30 days before Feb. 1 of the year of the general election that the measure is to be voted upon.

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1802

Eighteen months or until April 30 of the year of the next general election, whichever is earlier, for collection, and a deadline of May 1 in the year of the election that the initiative will appear on, or 18 months from the date the petitioner receives the official ballot title from the secretary of state, whichever is earlier. Must also file with the secretary of state not less than four months before the election at which initiatives are to be voted on.

Illinois

ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3

Eighteen months, but cannot start collecting more than two years before the election, and a deadline of six months before the general election.

Maine

M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18, 20

One year for collection and must address written petition to the legislature. Signatures must be filed with the secretary of state by the 50th day of the first regular session or by the 25th day of the second regular session. Signatures must be submitted no later than 18 months after the petition form was furnished by the secretary of state, and each signature is only valid for one year. Must also be submitted to the appropriate officials of cities, towns or plantations, or state election officials as authorized by law, 10 days before it's due with the secretary of state.

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Pt. 2, Sec. 3; Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 1; M.G.L.A. 53 § 7

First 10 signatures must be turned in by the “first Wednesday of the September before the assembling of the general court . . . and the remainder of the required signatures shall be filed not later than the first Wednesday of the following December.” After review by legislature, the second 0.5 percent of signatures are to be collected between mid-May and July and must be submitted to the local registrars two weeks before submission to the secretary of state.

Michigan

M.C.L.A. 168.471; 168.472; 168.473b

Deadline of 120 days before election for amendments; 160 days before election and not less than 10 days before legislative session for statutes; and 180 days to collect. And no signature "collected prior to a November general election at which a governor is elected shall not be filed after the date of that November general election.”

Mississippi

MS Const. Art. 15, § 273; Miss. Code § 23-17-3

Petitions are valid for one year, and deadline of 90 days before the first day of the legislative session.

Missouri

V.A.M.S. § 116.334

Eighteen months for collection, and then sponsors must submit signatures no later than six months before the election and can only start collecting the day after the previous general election.

Montana

MCA 13-27-301; 13-27-202; MT CONST Art. 3, § 4

One year, but proponents must submit to the county officials no sooner than nine months and no later than four weeks prior to the final deadline. For statute initiatives, no later than three months prior to the election the measure is to be voted upon, and must submit to the county officials no sooner than nine months and no later than four weeks prior to the final deadline.

Nebraska

Neb.Rev.St. § 32-1407

Two years for collection, and deadline of four months prior to the general election.

Nevada

N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; N.R.S. 295.056

For direct constitutional amendments, it is nine months and three weeks. For indirect statutory initiatives, it is roughly 11 months and two weeks. For direct constitutional amendments, a timeline beginning on Sept. 1 before the general election it is to be voted upon and ends on the third Tuesday of June of an even-numbered year. For indirect statutory initiatives, the timeline begins on Jan. 1 of the year preceding year in which a regular session of the legislature is held and then filed by the second Tuesday of November in an even-numbered year, or the next day.

North Dakota

NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 5; NDCC, 16.1-01-09

One year after the petition is approved by the secretary of state for collection, and deadline of 120 days before the election it is to be voted upon.

Ohio

OH Const. Art. II, § 1g; Art. II, § 1b; O.R.C. § 3519.16

No collection timeline except when collecting the second 3 percent of signatures of votes in last election for governor, the deadline is 90 days, and deadline of 110 days before the election generally. For indirect statutory initiatives, after turning in original 3 percent of signatures, proponents must return next batch of signatures (another 3 percent) within 90 days of the legislature not enacting or amending a measure. If the petition is insufficient, the sponsors have 10 extra days to collect more signatures.

Oklahoma

34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8

Ninety days from the date marking the beginning circulation for collection, as set by the secretary of state after public posting and chance for protest, and a deadline of 90 days from the official set date from the secretary of state.

Oregon

OR CONST Art. IV, § 1; O.R.S. § 250.105

For collection, if the petitions were filed at least 165 days before the election and the signatures are deemed insufficient, they may collect more, and deadline of four months prior to the general election.

South Dakota

SDCL § 2-1-1.2

Twelve months for collection, and no signatures may be obtained prior to 24 months before the general elections that it is to be voted upon. Signatures must be filed one year prior to the election.

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-206

Collectors have 316 days after the day on which the application is filed or the Feb. 15 immediately before the next regular general election immediately after the application is filed.

Washington

RCWA 29A.72.030

For direct initiatives, six months to collect (submit proposed measure within 10 months with deadline to submit four months out from the general election). For indirect initiatives, about nine months (proposed measure submitted within 10 months of the session it is to be submitted at with a deadline of 10 days before the session).

Wyoming

W.S.1977 § 22-24-315

Eighteen months for collection.

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

Some states offer no assistance or advice to initiative proponents on the draft of their proposed law. And, in some states, the review is purely technical; the proposal is reviewed to ensure it meets the legal requirements for format and style and adheres to drafting conventions. However, in about half of the 24 initiative states, proponents can get drafting assistance to improve the quality and consistency of initiative proposals. In these states, sponsors may take a draft, or even just an idea, to a legislative office for assistance with the form and content of the initiative before submitting the proposal to the appropriate state official.

States also have varying processes for reviewing petitions. Fiscal statements are the most common type of review, giving estimates and analysis on the likely fiscal impact the proposed measure will have on the state. Other types of review might include recommendations on wording. And many states include some type of public review or notice of proposed measures, as well.

For indirect initiative states, this review process involves the legislature and can be quite extensive.

Fiscal Analysis and General Reviews

Eighteen states require or provide for fiscal statements:

State Citation Fiscal statement details

Alaska

AS § 15.45.090

Lieutenant governor provides a statement of costs.

Arizona

A.R.S. § 19-123

Prepared by joint legislative budget committee staff.

California

Cal.Elec.Code § 9005; Cal.Gov.Code § 12172

Prepared by attorney general, department of finance and the legislative analyst office.

Colorado

CRS § 1-40-105.5

Prepared by legislative council.

Florida

F.S.A. § 100.371

Prepared by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference.

Maine

1 M.R.S.A. § 353

Prepared by the Office of Fiscal and Program Review.

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. 54 § 53

A statement of 100 words or less by secretary of administration and finance regarding fiscal consequences of the measure.

Mississippi

MS Const. Art. 15, § 273

Prepared by chief legislative budget officer.

Missouri

V.A.M.S. 116.17

Prepared by state auditor, and proponents may submit proposed review.

Montana

MCA § 13-27-312

If fiscal in nature, the attorney general orders the budget director to prepare.

Nevada

N.R.S. 295.015; 293.250

Prepared by the secretary of state, upon consultation with the Fiscal Analysis Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau.

North Dakota

NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 2; NDCC, 16.1-01-17

The legislative council determines the estimated fiscal impact at least 90 days before the measure is to be voted on.

Ohio

O.R.C. § 3519.04

Prepared by the office of budget and management and the tax commissioner if involves taxes or expenditures.

Oregon

O.R.S. § 250.125

The financial estimate committee will estimate costs and consult with the legislative revenue officer.

South Dakota

SDLC § 2-9-30; § 2-9-31; § 2-9-34

Director of the Legislative Research Council prepares a fiscal note as requested.

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202.5

Office of the Legislative Fiscal Analyst conducts an estimate and description of funding sources.

Washington

RCWA 29A.72.025

Prepared by the office of financial management, in consultation with the secretary of state, the attorney general, and any other appropriate state or local agency.

Wyoming

W.S.1977 § 22-24-309

Yes.

Six states do not require fiscal statements: Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska and Oklahoma.

Every state requires or offers some type of review in addition to fiscal statements. Details:

  • Alaska: Lieutenant governor reviews within 60 days of receiving (AS § 15.45.150).
  • Arizona: Proponents may submit proposed bill to the director of the legislative council for review. After chance for comment by all legislators, the legislative council prepares an impartial analysis with description, background information and likely effects (A.R.S. § 19-111; § 19-124).
  • Arkansas: Exact petition copy filed with secretary of state (A.C.A. § 7-9-104; § A.C.A. § 7-9-107).
  • California: Proponents may request review by secretary of state and from the Office of Legislative Council. Legislature may hold public hearings and must hold a committee hearing once 25 percent of signatures are collected (Cal.Gov.Code § 12172; 10243; 12172; Cal.Elec.Code § 9007; 9034).
  • Colorado: Upon request, any agency in the executive department shall assist in reviewing and preparing comments on the petition. Nonpartisan staff of general assembly prepare summary, analysis and fiscal review (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1; C.R.S.A. § 1-40-105).
  • Florida: Attorney general can request advisory opinion on the constitutionality of a measure from the state supreme court. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference members of one person from the governor’s office, the coordinator of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, one professional senate staffer and one professional house staffer (F.S.A. § 100.371; § 16.061).
  • Idaho: Within 20 days after initial petition filing, attorney general reviews and recommends revisions in an advisory capacity.
  • Illinois: For accuracy and fairness, the attorney general may rewrite arguments for or against prepared by legislature. General assembly members opposing the amendment may prepare or designate others to prepare a brief argument against such amendment, submitted to attorney general (5 ILCS 20/2).
  • Maine: Secretary of state, along with revisor of statutes, may reject petition application if it does not conform to drafting conventions for statutes. Attorney general aids summary. A petition for direct initiative that is approved by the secretary of state and submitted to the legislature must be afforded a public hearing conducted by the joint standing committee that has jurisdiction over the subject matter. The requirement may be waived by a two-thirds vote in each house of the legislature. (21-A M.R.S.A. § 901 and 1 M.R.S.A. § 353, 354).
  • Massachusetts: Proponents may alter the measure in small ways after legislature reviews it. Pamphlet contains one-sentence statements describing the effect of a yes or no vote prepared jointly by the attorney general and the state secretary. Legislature reviews the measure as submitted to it by the proponents. The measure can be amended by a three-fourths vote in a joint session. An amendment requires at least one-fourth of members’ support to get onto the ballot. The legislature may submit a competing measure to the ballot (M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3; Const. 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 2; Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4, § 3; Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 4, Pt. 3, § 1; Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4, § 5; M.G.L.A. 54 § 53).
  • Michigan: The director of elections, with the approval of the board of canvassers, prepares a statement of designation for the ballot. For indirect statute petitions, the legislature has 40 session days to pass or reject the unchanged or unamended measure. They may also submit their own alternative ballot measure to the people if it is different but under the same subject area. If passed by legislature, it is subject to the referendum (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9; M.C.L.A. 168.32).
  • Mississippi: Attorney general may confer with proponents and may recommend revisions. Since the process is an indirect initiative, the legislature has four months to adopt the unchanged constitutional initiative by a majority in each house before the secretary of state submits it to the people. Otherwise, they may submit an alternative measure. Either way, the measure is put before the people (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273; Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-5).
  • Missouri: The secretary of State will furnish ballot statements explaining the effects of a no or yes vote for the measure, which will include whether it will increase, decrease or maintain taxes. After certification for the ballot, the joint committee on legislative research holds a public hearing in Jefferson City to take public comments regarding the measure (V.A.M.S. 116.153; 116.025).
  • Montana: Reviews done by attorney general and legislative services division. There must also be a five-person committee of those who favor rejection, comprised of individuals appointed by the governor, attorney general, president of the senate and speaker of the house—the fifth member is appointed by the four previous members. And attorney general reviews legality (MCA 13-27-202; 13-27-312; 13-27-402).
  • Nebraska: The revisor of statutes reviews and recommends revisions with respect to form and draftsmanship. These may be accepted or rejected. The secretary of state writes arguments for and against the measure with information provided by proponents and opponents (Neb.Rev.St. § 32-1405.01; § 32-1405).
  • Nevada: The secretary of state will appoint two, three-person committees, one for and one against the measure. The committees select a chair and may prepare arguments and rebuttals, which will be reviewed by the secretary of state for the ballot. The secretary of state consults with the legislative counsel for any technical suggestions, which will be posted to the secretary's website. The legislature has 40 days to pass the unchanged initiative. If the legislature rejects the measure, the legislature may propose an alternative measure (with the approval of the governor), and it will appear on the ballot along with the original initiative. A legislature committee also reviews the measure by a deadline (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; N.R.S. 218D.810; 293.267; 295.015; 293.252).
  • North Dakota: The secretary of state reviews and if the office deems it insufficient, the committee of petitioners has 20 days to correct it. An estimated fiscal impact statement must be printed with any constitutional amendment or initiated or referred measure on the ballot. (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 6; NDCC 16.1-06-09; and NDCC 16.1-01-17).
  • Ohio: Reviewed by attorney general and Ohio ballot board, which also writes pro or con statements if not supplied. Legislature reviews the indirect statutory initiatives. The legislature has four months to pass the bill in amended or unchanged form. If amended, expired or rejected, it goes onto the ballot. Additional signatures are needed then. If legislature amends, it does not go into effect until the original is rejected by the voters. The president of the Senate and the speaker of the House of Representatives have authority to designate groups of members to prepare arguments for and against amendments to the Ohio Constitution proposed by the General Assembly, a person or persons to prepare an argument for any law, section, or item submitted to the electors by referendum petition, and a person or persons to prepare an argument against any constitutional amendment proposed by initiative petition. (OH Const. Art. II, § 1b; Art. II, § 1g; O.R.C. § 3519.03; 3519.01; 3519.062; 3505.063).
  • Oklahoma: Secretary of state reviews and processes the petition, along with the attorney general and the supreme court. The public may protest as to the constitutionality of the measure. The attorney general reviews the ballot title after signed petitions are turned in (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8).
  • Oregon: The Citizens' Initiative Review Commission reviews measures and may create a citizen panel to review specific items. The attorney general submits a draft ballot title and the public may submit written comments in regard to it, which the attorney general may use to revise the title (O.R.S. § 250.137; § 250.139; § 250.125; § 250.067; § 250.127).
  • South Dakota: The Legislative Research Council provides written comments to the attorney general (SDCL § 12-13-25; § 12-13-25.1).
  • Utah: For indirect initiatives, the legislature may make technical changes only, and prepare a legislative review note and a legislative fiscal note on the law proposed by the initiative petition. Then, the legislature rejects or accepts the proposition unchanged. After the hearings, the proponents and Governor's Office of Management and Budget may revise (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-204.1; § 20A-7-208; § 20A-7-702).
  • Washington: Code reviser or assistant code reviser reviews the proposal of the initial petition and recommends revisions or alterations in an advisory capacity only. Attorney general prepares explanatory statements. Arguments for and against are prepared by committees with members appointed first by the secretary of state, the senate's presiding office, and the house's presiding officer. Code reviser issues certificate of review (RCWA 29A.72.020; 29A.32.040; 29A.32.060).
  • Wyoming: Upon request, the legislative service office or any agency in the executive department shall render assistance in reviewing and preparing comments on the proposed bill. The attorney general may determine an act of the legislature is the same as a proposed law and will remove it from appearing on the ballot (W.S.1977 § 22-24-304; § 22-24-319).

Public Review and Notices

Every initiative state requires some form of public notice.

Thirteen states require a voter pamphlet or booklet, usually mailed to every voter or household: Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah and Washington.

Thirteen states require publication in a newspaper: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah.

These requirements vary widely, most often including newspaper publication, other public displays such as posting on the internet, or public comment periods.

Public notice requirements are found in the following statutes. Only one state does not require this type of action:

  • Alaska: AS § 15.45.195; § 15.45.200
  • Arizona: A.R.S. § 19-123 and A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1
  • Arkansas: Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1
  • California: Cal.Elec.Code § 9002
  • Colorado: C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1; C.R.S.A. §1-40-102, § 1-40-105, § 1-40-106
  • Florida: F.S.A. § 100.371, § 101.161; F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 5
  • Idaho: I.C. § 34-1812a, § 34-1812b, I.C. § 34-1812c
  • Illinois: 5 ILCS 20/2
  • Maine: 21-A M.R.S.A. 905 and 1 M.R.S.A. § 354
  • Massachusetts: M.G.L.A. 54 § 53
  • Michigan: M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 12, § 2; M.C.L.A. 168.22e; 168.476; 168.477; 168.480
  • Mississippi: Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-45
  • Missouri: V.A.M.S. 116.334; 116.260
  • Montana: MCA 13-27-401; 13-27-402; 13-27-410; 13-27-311
  • Nebraska: Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405.01; § 32-1405.02; § 32-1413
  • Nevada: N.R.S. 295.015
  • North Dakota: NDCC, § 16.1-01-07
  • Ohio: OH Const. Art. II, § 1g; Art. XVI, § 1; O.R.C. § 3519.07
  • Oklahoma: 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8; § 17
  • Oregon: O.R.S. § 250.125; § 250.067; § 250.127
  • South Dakota: SDCL § 12-13-23
  • Utah: U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-702; § 20A-7-204.1; § 20A-7-701-706
  • Washington: RCWA 29A.32.010; 29A.32.031; 29A.32.040; 29A.32.070; 29A.32.080
  • Wyoming: None

Ballot Access and Preparation

Before a measure is placed on a ballot, states decide which election it will appear on, how the ballot title and summary are created and any time restrictions involved. In some states, the legislature or governor may order a special election for a measure.

Which Election and Time Restrictions (If Any)

State Citation Election

Alaska

AS § 15.45.190

The first statewide general, special, special runoff, or primary election after the petition has been filed, a legislative session has convened and adjourned, and a period of 120 days has expired since the adjournment of the legislative session.

Arizona

A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1 and A.R.S. § 19-121

Next general election after filing.

Arkansas

Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1

Only regular state, congressional and municipal elections, and filed at least four months before election.

California

Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8; Cal.Elec.Code § 9016

Next general election held at least 131 days after signatures are certified. Governor may call a special statewide election for the measure.

Colorado

C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1; C.R.S.A. § 1-40-108

Biennial regular general election, with submission deadline three months and three weeks prior to election.

Florida

F.S.A. § 100.371

General election, and signatures must be verified no later than Feb. 1 of the year of the general election.

Idaho

I. C. § 34-1801a; § 34-1802

General election, and must file by the May before the election the measure is to be voted on.

Illinois

ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3

General election, and filed at least six months before the election with the secretary of state.

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A. § 905-A; M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18, 20

Next statewide or special election after the legislative session concludes sine die, and signatures submitted to appropriate state officials at least 10 days before submitted to secretary of state, which is the 50th day of the first regular session or the 25th day of the second regular session.

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. Const. Art. 48, Pt. 2, § 3; Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 1; Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 4; Art. 48, Pt. 5, § 5; M.G.L.A. 53 § 7

Next state election, and depending on type, must be submitted by September, then December, and then possibly July (see deadlines and timelines topic).

Michigan

M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9; M.C.L.A. 168.471; 168.472

For statutes: If not passed by the legislature within 40 days, it is placed on the next general election's ballot. Same if an alternate measure is proposed. A statewide special election may be called for amendments. Restrictions included 120 days before election for amendments, and 160 days before an election and not less than 10 days before legislative session for statutes.

Mississippi

MS Const. Art. 15, § 273; Miss. Code § 23-17-3

Statewide general election, and 90 days before the first day of the legislative session and the first five measures make it on the ballot.

Missouri

V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50; § 52

At general elections except when a special election is ordered by the legislature, and must be filed at least six months before the election it is to be voted on.

Montana

MT CONST Art. 3, § 6

General election unless the legislature orders a special election.

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1407; § 32-401

Next general election at least four months after filing the signatures.

Nevada

N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; Art. 19, § 3; N.R.S. 295.056

General election, while petitions cannot be filed more than 65 days before the deadline. For amendments, must be submitted for verification by the third Tuesday in June of the general election year. For statutory initiatives, must be submitted to be verified before appearing before the legislature on the second Tuesday in November in even-numbered years, or the next day.

North Dakota

NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 5

A referred measure may be voted upon at a statewide election or at a special election called by the governor.

Ohio

OH Const. Art. II, § 1b

The next regular or general election occurring subsequent to the 125 days after filing signatures.

Oklahoma

OK Const. Art. V, § 3; 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 12; § 25

The next statewide election unless the legislature or governor convenes a special election for it or the governor designates a vote at the primary election.

Oregon

OR CONST Art. IV, § 1

Regular election unless otherwise ordered by Legislative Assembly, and restrictions of four months prior to the general election.

South Dakota

SDCL § 2-1-17; § 2-1-1.2

General election, and signatures must be filed one year prior to the election.

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-1-201; § 20A-1-203; § 20A-6-106; § 20A-7-206

General election, but governor and legislature may call special elections, and certified ballot title is due at least 65 days before the election. For direct initiatives, signatures must be submitted by Feb. 15 immediately before the next general election.

Washington

RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 1

On the next general election or a special election if ordered by the legislature.

Wyoming

W.S.1977 § 22-24-319

The next general election after signature petitions filed, a legislative session has convened and adjourned, and 120 days after the legislative session adjournment.

Ballot Title and Summary

State Citation Who Titles and Summarizes for Ballot

Alaska

AS § 15.45.180

Lieutenant governor with assistance from attorney general

Arizona

A.R.S. § 19-125

Secretary of state, approved by attorney general

Arkansas

Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1; A.C.A. § 7-9-114

Board of Election commissioners and then certified to the secretary of state. Attorney general prepares abstract to be posted at polling places.

California

Cal.Elec.Code § 9004

Attorney general

Colorado

C.R.S.A. § 1-40-106

Title board

Florida

F.S.A. § 101.161

Sponsor, approved by secretary of state, reviewed by attorney general

Idaho

I.C. § 34-1809

Attorney general

Illinois

10 ILCS 5/28-5; 10 ILCS 5/16-6; 5 ILCS 20/2

Proponents, but certified by state board of elections and reviewed by attorney general.

Maine

21-A M.R.S.A. § 901, 906; 1 M.R.S.A. § 353

Secretary of state and attorney general

Massachusetts

M.G.L.A. 54 § 42A, § 53; M.G.L.A. Const. Art. 48, Pt. 6, Gen. Prov., § 3

Secretary of state and attorney general jointly make a more descriptive ballot question summary to be sent to voters. Proponents write title.

Michigan

M.C.L.A. 168.474a; 168.486; 168.477; 168.3

Board of state canvassers

Mississippi

Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-9

Attorney general

Missouri

V.A.M.S. 116.160; 116.180; 115.245; 116.210; 116.220

Secretary of state, approved by attorney general

Montana

MCA § 13-27-312

Proponent and approved by the attorney general, is the title for both the petition and ballot. If attorney general does not approve the statement, he or she prepares one.

Nebraska

Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1410

Attorney general

Nevada

N.R.S. 293.250

Secretary of state, in consultation with attorney general

North Dakota

 

 

Ohio

OH Const. Art. XVI, § 1; Art. II, § 1g; O.R.C. § 3519.21

Ohio ballot board; proponents may suggest title.

Oklahoma

34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8; § 9

Proponents submit descriptive ballot title reviewed by attorney general.

Oregon

O.R.S. § 250.065

Attorney general

South Dakota

SDCL § 12-13-25.1

Attorney general after receiving written comments from Legislative Research Council

Utah

U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-207; § 20A-7-209; § 20A-6-107

Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel numbers propositions and proposes a descriptive title summarizing the contents of the measure. Evaluations done by lieutenant governor and Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel.

Washington

RCWA 29A.72.050

Attorney general

Wyoming

W.S.1977 § 22-24-317

Secretary of the state and attorney general

The Election and Effect

The requirements for an election with statewide ballot measures vary greatly by state. States have statutes covering conflicting or competing measures, the percent of the vote needed to pass a measure, and repeal or change restrictions.

Conflicting or Competing Measures

Seventeen states have a statute in place noting that if two or more conflicting measures are on the same ballot, the measure receiving the most votes passes. Additional stipulations:

  • Arizona (A.R.S. § 19-126)
  • Arkansas (Arkansas Const. Art. 5  § 1; § 7-9-122)
  • California (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 10)
  • Colorado (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-123)
  • Idaho (I.C. § 34-1811, § 34-1813)
  • Maine (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18)
  • Massachusetts (M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4)
  • Michigan (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9; Const. Art. 12, § 2)
  • Mississippi (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273; Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-29)
  • Missouri (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 51; V.A.M.S. 116.320)
  • Nebraska (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1416)
  • Nevada (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2)
  • North Dakota (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 8)
  • Ohio (OH Const. Art. II, § 1b)
  • Oklahoma (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 21)
  • Utah (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-211)
  • Washington (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 1)

In Idaho and Nebraska, the law states that the entire measure might not be superseded and that only conflicting parts of the measure may supersede one another. 

In Maine, Oklahoma and Utah, the law includes additional requirements to those governing conflicting measures:

  • Maine: If neither receives a majority, the one receiving the most votes, if it receives more than one-third of the votes given for or against both, will appear at the next statewide election to be held not less than 60 days after the vote (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18).
  • Oklahoma: If neither receives a majority, the one receiving more votes will be resubmitted to the next general election by itself if it received at least one-third of the total votes cast for or against the two measures. If both are approved, the one receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes prevails (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 21).
  • Utah: The governor must decide that two measures are in conflict (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-211).

In Alaska, if the lieutenant governor and the attorney general determine an act of the legislature is the same as the proposed measure, then the citizen initiative is voided (AS § 15.45.210).

Six states do not have a law governing conflicting measures: Florida, Illinois, Montana, Oregon, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Majority to Pass?

Thirteen states require a simple majority to pass statewide ballot measures: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota.  

Special rules apply to 11 states:

Colorado and Nevada require a simple majority for statutory measures only.

Colorado and Florida require a supermajority to pass a constitutional amendment: 55 percent of voters in Colorado (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1), and 60 percent of voters in Florida (F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 5).

In Nevada, a constitutional amendment needs only a majority but must be approved in two consecutive elections (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2).

Illinois requires either 60 percent of those voting on the amendment itself or a majority of those voting in the election as a whole (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3).

Oregon requires the election as a whole to have had at least 50 percent voter turnout, but only requires a majority to pass (OR Rev. Stat. § 250.036; OR CONST Art. XVII, § 1; Art. IV, § 1).

Two states require supermajorities for laws that seek to alter specific topics.

  • Utah requires 60 percent approval for laws that alter hunting and fishing (See Utah Const. Art. 6, Sec. 1, Part 2).
  • Washington requires 60 percent approval for laws authorizing gambling or lotteries (Washington Const. Art. 2, Sec. 24).

Four states require measures to pass with a majority of voters, but the measures must also have been voted upon by a certain percentage of the total number of voters who voted in that election. This ensures that measures will not be passed by a small minority of voters, either because of a low turnout or ballot-drop off (where voters only vote partway through a ballot).

  • Thirty percent in Massachusetts (Massachusetts Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4, § 5)
  • Forty percent in Mississippi (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273 and Miss. Code § 23-17-37)
  • Thirty-five percent in Nebraska (Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 4)
  • Fifty percent in Wyoming (W.S.1977 § 22-2-117).

Repeal or Change Restrictions

States have rules in place to govern what legislatures or governors can do to citizen initiatives once they pass. In every state, a constitutional amendment requires a vote of approval. Therefore, rules restricting the ability to change or repeal measures apply to statutory measures, which are available in 21 states.

Ten states allow the legislature to alter or change measures without any time limits or supermajority requirements:

  • Colorado (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Idaho (I.C. § 34-18)
  • Maine (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3)
  • Massachusetts (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48)
  • Missouri (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 52)
  • Montana (MT CONST Art. 4, § 8)
  • Ohio (OH Const. Art. II, § 1g)
  • Oklahoma (OK Const. Art. 5, § 7)
  • South Dakota (Const. Art. 3, § 1; Art. 13, § 1)
  • Utah (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-212)

Seven states have supermajority requirements for changing a measure (the other states require only a regular majority, although some enforce a time period).

State Citation Supermajority Requirement

Arizona

A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1, Part 6

May amend the initiative with three-fourths vote, but may only amend to “further the purpose” of the measure.

Arkansas

Arkansas Const. Art. 5 § 1

Two-thirds vote to amend or repeal.

Michigan

MI Const. Art. 2, § 9

May be amended or repealed only by three-fourths of each house or by a vote of the electors.

Nebraska

Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 2

Two-thirds vote to amend or repeal.

North Dakota

NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 8

Two-thirds vote (or majority after seven years).

Oregon

OR CONST Art.II, § 23; Art. IV, § 1

Supermajority vote only to change vote requirement.

Washington

RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 1

Two-thirds vote (or majority after two years).

Five states have time limits on the repeal or alteration of measures.

State

Citation

Alteration time limit

Alaska

AK Const. Art. 11, § 6

Two years

Nevada

N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2

Three years

North Dakota

NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 8

Seven years (or two-thirds vote prior to seven years)

Washington

RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 1

Two years (or two-thirds vote prior to two years)

Wyoming

Const. Art. 3, § 52

Two years

In California (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 10), the legislature cannot change or alter measures on its own and must resubmit changes to the people unless the original measure passed by voters waived this requirement.

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ALASKA

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1959
  • Types allowed: Indirect initiative for statutes only and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (AS § 15.45.040)
  • Other subject restrictions: Cannot: dedicate revenue, repeal appropriations, create courts, define court rules or jurisdictions, or enact local or special legislation (AS § 15.45.010)
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Signatures of 100 qualified voters filed with lieutenant governor and deposit of $100 which is refunded when petition is properly filed (AS § 15.45.020; 15.45.030).
  • Where to file with: Lieutenant governor’s office (AS § 15.45.020)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Petition designates committee of three sponsors (AS § 15.45.030)
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include, but not limited to, group name, reports, contributions, dollar amounts and deadlines (AS § 15.13.040; § 15.13.050; § 15.13.065; § 15.13.110)
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Lieutenant governor (AS § 15.45.090)
  • What is on each petition: Sequentially numbered, copy of the proposed bill, impartial summary, statement of costs, space for signatures, date, address, and other specifications prescribed by the lieutenant governor (AS § 15.45.090)

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Lieutenant governor (AS § 15.45.090)
  • Fiscal review: Lieutenant governor provides statement of costs (AS § 15.45.090)
  • General review of petition: Lieutenant governor reviews within 60 days of receiving (AS § 15.45.150)
  • Legislature or other government official review: No additional statute found other than the indirect initiative design, requiring initiative to be turned into the legislature before appearing on the ballot
  • Public review or notice: Thirty days or more before election, lieutenant governor holds public hearings with proponent and opponents (AS § 15.45.195). Election board reviews copies of proposed law and will display one copy in public place (AS § 15.45.200).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: U.S. citizen, age 18 or older and legal Alaskan resident (AS § 15.45.105)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes, before signature sheets are filed (AS § 15.45.130)
  • Paid per signature: Allowed, but not greater than $1 per signature (AS § 15.45.110)
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (AS § 15.45.110)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Ten % of total votes cast in previous general election with geographic requirement (AS § 15.45.140)
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified voters (AS § 15.45.140)
  • Geographic distribution: Yes, from three-fourths of house districts of the state with signatures from each district equaling at least 7 % of the total votes from preceding general election (AS § 15.45.140)
  • Collected in-person: Yes (AS § 15.45.110)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Written notice to lieutenant governor before petition is filed (AS § 15.45.120)
  • Verification: Lieutenant governor counts and checks for validity (15.45.150)

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Filed within one year of receiving notice that petitions are ready (AS § 15.45.140)
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Same as above

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: The first statewide general, special, special runoff, or primary election after the petition has been filed, a legislative session has convened and adjourned, and a period of 120 days has expired since the adjournment of the legislative session (AS § 15.45.190)
  • Ballot title and summary: Lieutenant governor with assistance from attorney general (AS § 15.45.180)
  • Time-period restrictions before placed on the ballot: First election 120 days after adjournment of the legislative session (AS § 15.45.190)

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: Lieutenant governor and attorney general may determine that an act passed by the legislature is substantially the same as the proposed law by initiative, and was passed after the initiative was filed but before the election, the initiative is void and does not appear on the ballot (AS § 15.45.210).
  • Majority to pass: Yes (AS § 15.45.220)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Ninety days after certification (AS § 15.45.220)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Cannot within two years of effective date, not subject to veto, can be amended by majority vote (AK Const. Art. 11, § 6)

ARIZONA

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1912
  • Types allowed: Direct initiative for statutes and amendments and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Constitutional amendments only, not statutes (A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1 and CV–16–0314-SA)
  • Other subject restrictions: If includes expenditures, must also include sufficient increased revenue sources that cannot come from general fund (A.R.S. Const. Art. 9 § 23)
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: File application with secretary of state, including organization name and officers and other information, summary and text of proposed law, and must also file a statement of its organization (A.R.S. § 19-111)
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state’s office (A.R.S. § 19-111)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Must follow financial guidelines, including non-candidate committee to act as sponsor, designating chair and treasurer, sworn statements, spending reports, bank account established, quarterly and pre-election reports (A.R.S. § 16-906; § 16-926; § 19-111; § 19-124)
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but are not limited to spending reports, establishing a bank account, and quarterly and pre-election campaign finance reports (A.R.S. § 16-906, § 16-926)
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Proponents, description to be 100 words (A.R.S. § 19-102; § 19-111)
  • What is on each petition: Must follow prescribed form and summary and that it was prepared by proponents, title, that circulator is paid or not, and warning about legality of signing unofficial sheet (A.R.S. § 19-102)

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state (A.R.S. § 19-102)
  • Fiscal review: Prepared by joint legislative budget committee staff (A.R.S. § 19-123)
  • General review of petition: Proponents may submit proposed bill to director of the legislative council for review (A.R.S. § 19-111)
  • Legislature or other government official review: After chance for comment by all legislators, the legislative council prepares an impartial analysis with description, background information and likely effects (A.R.S. § 19-124).
  • Public review or notice: A public pamphlet includes the analysis prepared by the legislative council, arguments for and against and the fiscal statement. Public meetings are also held and posting of amendments (A.R.S. § 19-123 and A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Non-Arizona residents and paid-resident circulators must register. No county recorder or justice of the peace may circulate, and no circulator banned pursuant to § 19-119.01 ((A.R.S. § 19-118; § 19-121).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes, and notarized (A.R.S. § 19-121)
  • Paid per signature: Allowed, but must register and state it on petition form. Cannot be paid on per-signature basis (A.R.S. § 19-102; § 19-118). 
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: May not use "any fraudulent means, method, trick, device or artifice to obtain signatures on a petition" (A.R.S. § 19-119).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Ten % of votes cast for all candidates for governor in previous election for statutes. Fifteen % for amendments (A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors (A.R.S. § 19-112)
  • Geographic distribution: None, but petition sheets are organized by county (A.R.S. § 19-112; § 19-121.01).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (A.R.S. § 19-121.01)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Written statement at secretary of state’s office, mail a notarized statement to the office, or strike name through on petition (A.R.S. § 19-113).
  • Verification: Counts total number and then takes 5 % random sample to verify signature accuracy (A.R.S. § 19-121.01; § 19-121.04).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Not more than 24 months (A.R.S. § 19-121)
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Four months before election (A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1), and by 5 p.m. on final day (A.R.S. § 19-121)

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Next general election after filing (A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1 and A.R.S. § 19-121)
  • Ballot title and summary: Secretary of state, approved by attorney general (A.R.S. § 19-125)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: No statute

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: The measure that receives the greatest number of affirmative votes (A.R.S. § 19-126)
  • Majority to pass: Yes (A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Upon proclamation of the governor (A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Cannot veto, and legislature may not repeal. Legislature may amend with three-fourths vote but only to “further the purpose” of the measure (A.R.S. Const. Art. 21 § 1).

ARKANSAS

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1909
  • Types allowed: Direct initiative for statutes and amendments and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: No statute
  • Other subject restrictions: No statutes
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: File an exact printed copy of petition as it will be used for signature gathering (A.C.A. § 7-9-104).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state’s office and attorney general (AR Const. Art. 5, § 1; A.C.A. § 7-9-104)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Must follow financial statutes and file with Ethics Commission (A.C.A. § 7-9-404; 406; 407; 408; 409). 
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but are not limited to regular reports filed with Ethics Commission, deadlines for filing, dollar amounts to report, dollar limits on contribution amounts, and no donations from PACs or anonymous contributors (A.C.A. § 7-9-404; 405; 406; 407; 408; 409).
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Proponent with attorney general approval (A.C.A. § 7-9-107)
  • What is on each petition: Must follow form guidelines and include signature of attorney general, affidavit of canvassers, instructions and signatures for only one county (A.C.A. § 7-9-108).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Proponents (A.C.A. § 7-9-104; § 7-9-108)
  • Fiscal review: No statute
  • General review of petition: Exact petition copy filed with secretary of state and approval of title by attorney general (A.C.A. § 7-9-104; § A.C.A. § 7-9-107)
  • Legislature or other government official review: No statute
  • Public review or notice: Notice to be posted in statewide newspaper five months before election at expense of petitioners (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1)

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be age 18 or older, registered with secretary of state and signed affidavit (A.R.S. § 7-9-108).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Paid per signature: May be paid (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1). If paid, must provide required information to secretary of state prior to collecting signatures (A.C.A. § 7-9-601; A.C.A. § 7-9-103).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (A.C.A. § 7-9-103)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Eight % of the total number of legal voters for statutes. Ten % for amendments (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1). 
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered voters (A.C.A. § 7-9-103)
  • Geographic distribution: From 15 different counties, with each county’s petition having signatures of at least half of the designated %age of electors of the county (Ark. Const. Art. V, § 1)
  • Collected in-person: Yes (A.C.A. § 7-9-105)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: No statute
  • Verification: Secretary of state verifies with help of county clerks. If 20 % or more of signatures on any part are invalid, then the burden to prove the rest are valid falls on the sponsors (Ark. Const. Art. 5 ,§ 1; A.C.A. § 7-9-111).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Unlimited, but if number of filed signatures is deemed insufficient, sponsors have 30 days to collect more (A.C.A. § 7-9-111).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Filed four months before election, and have been published in newspaper at least 30 days prior (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Only regular state, congressional and municipal elections (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Ballot title and summary: Submitted to Board of Election Commissioners and then certified to the secretary of state (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1). Attorney general prepares abstract to be posted at polling places (A.C.A. § 7-9-114).
  • Time-period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Filed at least four months before election (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1)

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: The measure receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes becomes law (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1).
  • Majority to pass: Yes (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after the election unless otherwise specified in the act (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No veto by governor, and two-thirds vote by legislature may amend or repeal (Ark. Const. Art. 5, § 1)

CALIFORNIA

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1911
  • Types allowed: Direct initiative for statutes and amendments and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8)
  • Other subject restrictions: Measure provisions cannot be dependent upon meeting certain vote %age. And no measure that names an individual to hold office or names private corporation to perform any function (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8, § 12).
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Submit draft and affidavit to attorney general with fee of $2,000, refunded when measure qualifies for the ballot within two years. Public reviews for 30 days and provides comments to the proponent. Attorney general then submits petition to the secretary of state which begins the deadline clock (Cal.Elec.Code § 336, 9001, 9002, 9004).
  • Where to file: Attorney general, then petition goes to secretary of state (Cal.Elec.Code § 9001, 9004; Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Statement of organization and filing fee with secretary of state and local filing officer, arguments for measure (Cal.Gov.Code § 84101, 84101.5; Cal.Elec.Code § 9065, 9067)
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but are not limited to reporting for contributions over $1,000, restrictions on what organizations can support, disclosure statements, semi-annual and pre-election statements, quarterly ballot measure statements, expedited and triggered statements and more (Cal.Gov.Code § 82013, 84200, 84202.3, 85309, 84511, 84101, Cal.Elec.Code § 18680; Form 460).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Proponents may do so any time before measure qualifies for the ballot, 131 days before the general statewide election (Cal.Elec.Code § 9033, 9604).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Attorney general (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 10; Cal.Elec.Code § 9004)
  • What is on each petition: Must contain attorney general’s unique numeric identifier, title, summary and the proposed measure’s full text, and follow the form found in the code (Cal.Elec.Code § 9008, 9009, 9012).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Proponents with advising by attorney general (Cal.Elec.Code § 9012)
  • Fiscal review: Prepared by attorney general, department of finance and the legislative analyst office (Cal.Elec.Code § 9005; Cal.Gov.Code § 12172)
  • General review of petition: Proponents may request review by secretary of state (Cal.Gov.Code § 12172).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Proponents may get help drafting from Office of Legislative Council. Legislature may hold public hearings and must hold a committee hearing once 25 % of signatures are collected (Cal.Gov.Code § 10243, 12172; Cal.Elec.Code § 9007, 9034).
  • Public review or notice: Public may comment on public and internet posting of measure by attorney general for 30 days and then proponents may amend the measure (Cal.Elec.Code § 9002).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Signed statement if paid and 18 years old (Cal.Elec.Code § 104, 9022, 9610; Code.Civ.Proc. § 2015.5)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (Cal.Elec.Code § 104, 9022, 9610)
  • Paid per signature: Yes, but signed oath if paid (Cal.Elec.Code § 101, 9610)
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (Cal.Elec.Code § 18603)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Five % of votes cast for governor in last election for stator. Eight % for amendments (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8).
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered qualified voters (Cal.Elec.Code § 105, 9020, 9021)
  • Geographic distribution: None, but may only sign petition circulated in the county of registration (Cal.Elec.Code § 9021)
  • Collected in-person: Yes (Cal.Elec.Code § 100)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Written request with county election official before petition is filed (Cal.Elec.Code § 103, 9602)
  • Verification: County officials conduct raw count, and then a random sample is taken of 500 signatures or 3 % of each county’s total for accuracy. Less than 95 % accurate fails the petition, greater than 110 % qualifies, and between requires a check of every signature (Cal.Elec.Code § 9030, 9031, 9033; Cal.Admin.Code § 20530, 20531, 20532, 2054).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Must be 180 days from official summary date by attorney general (Cal.Elec.Code § 9014).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: At least 131 days prior to the next general election the measure is to be voted on (Cal.Elec.Code § 9016; Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8)

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Next general election held at least 131 days after signatures are certified. Governor may call a special statewide election for the measure (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8).
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general (Cal.Elec.Code § 9004)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: At least 131 days prior to next general election it is to be voted on (Cal.Elec.Code § 9016; Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 8)

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: Measure receiving more affirmative votes is enacted (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 10)
  • Majority to pass: Yes (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 10)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Day after the election unless otherwise specified (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 10)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Amend or repeal must be approved by voters, unless the original measure permits amendment or repeal without voter approval (Cal.Const. Art. 2, § 10).

COLORADO

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1910
  • Types allowed: Direct citizen initiative for statutes and amendments and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Other subject restrictions: No other statutes
  • Repeat measures: No statutes

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Submit draft of proposed initiative to legislative council and office of legislative legal services for review and comment. Proponents may amend before submission to the secretary of state (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-105).
  • Where to file with: Legislative council and office of legislative legal services first, and then the secretary of state (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-105).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Lists of circulators and notaries who notarized the petition sections must be filed with the secretary of state. Two official representatives of the proponents must attend all petition review meetings. License petition entity must register with secretary of state and obtain license (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-104, § 1-40-105, § 1-40-111, § 1-40-135).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but are not limited to filing with the secretary of state, written disclaimers when publicizing, limits on contributions, detailed contribution reports, unexpended campaign contributions, and rules promulgated by secretary of state (C.R.S.A. § 1-45-103, § 1-45-108.3, § 1-45-111.5§ 1-45-117).
  • Withdrawal of petition: File a letter with secretary of state, signed by designated representatives, no later than 60 days prior to the election (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-134).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Title board, comprised of secretary of state, attorney general and director of the office of legislative legal services (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-106, § 1-40-124.5)
  • What is on each petition: The format follows statute guidelines, must be notarized, must have specific language including legal warning, ballot title and abstract from fiscal impact statement (CRS § 1-40-110, § 1-40-105.5).

Petition Review, Creation, and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state approves the format and printer’s proof (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-113).
  • Fiscal review: Prepared by legislative council (CRS § 1-40-105.5).
  • General review of petition: Upon request, any agency in the executive department shall assist in reviewing and preparing comments on the petition (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-105).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Nonpartisan staff of general assembly prepare summary, analysis and fiscal review (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1).
  • Public review or notice: Able to attend meeting on petition application review, title board meetings, ballot information booklet prepared by legislative council (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1; C.R.S.A. §1-40-102, § 1-40-105, § 1-40-106).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be 18 years old, complete training from secretary of state and present specific identification to notary (C.R.S. § 1-40-112).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes, and must be notarized (C.R.S. § 1-40-111)
  • Paid per signature: Allowed but must obtain license and training (CRS § 1-40-135)
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-130, § 1-40-111)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Five % of votes cast for secretary of state in last election (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered electors who will be eligible to vote on the measure (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-111)
  • Geographic distribution: Under court challenge. Currently, for constitutional amendments signatures must be gathered from at least 2 % of the total registered electors in each state senate district (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-111)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Written request prior to submission of signed petitions (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-109)
  • Verification: Random sample of at least 5 % or at least 4,000 signatures. If less than 90 % are valid, the petition fails. If 110 % or more, the petition passes. Between 90 and 110 %, every signature is verified (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-116).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Six months to turn in signatures once petitions have been titled and certified for circulation (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-106 and 1-40-107).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: No later than three months and three weeks before the election and made by 3 p.m. on the day of filing (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-108).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Biennial regular general election (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Ballot title and summary: Title board (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-106)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Submission deadline three months and three weeks prior to election (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-108).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: Measure that receives greater number of affirmative votes passes (C.R.S.A. § 1-40-123)
  • Majority to pass: Amendments require 55 % (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1)
  • Timeline for taking effect: When governor makes official declaration of vote but not later than 30 days after vote canvassing (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No veto and only a majority of voters to overturn amendments, not 55 % (C.R.S.A. Const. Art. 5, § 1).

FLORIDA

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1972
  • Types allowed: Initiative for constitutional amendments only

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 3)
  • Other subject restrictions: Amendments that propose a tax or fee not in place in November 1994 require a two-thirds vote to pass (F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 3).
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Must first register a political committee and submit form to Division of Elections along with text of proposed measure and form on which signatures will be affixed (F.S.A. § 100.371, § 106.03; Rule 1S-2.009).
  • Where to file with: Division of Elections (F.S.A. § 106.03)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Must file as political committee (F.S.A. § 106.03).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but are not limited to contribution limits and reports (F.S.A. § 106.08, § 106.19).
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Prepared by sponsor, approved by secretary of state. Attorney general writes title and summary if original is challenged in court (F.S.A. § 101.161).
  • What is on each petition: Serial number, name and address of paid circulator, and contents approved by secretary of state (F.S.A. § 106.19, § 100.371, § 120.54)

Petition Review, Creation, and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Approved by secretary of state (F.S.A. § 100.371)
  • Fiscal review: Yes, by the Financial Impact Estimating Conference (F.S.A. § 100.371)
  • General review of petition: Attorney general can request advisory opinion on the constitutionality of a measure from the state supreme court (F.S.A. § 16.061).
  • Legislature or other government official review: The Financial Impact Estimating Conference members of one person from the governor’s office, the coordinator of the Office of Economic and Demographic Research, one professional senate staffer and one professional house staffer (F.S.A. § 100.371).
  • Public review or notice: Fiscal statement summary available at polling places, secretary of state’s office, and Office of Demographic and Economic Research’s website. And published in newspaper (F.S.A. § 100.371, § 101.161; F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 5).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Name and address must be on petition if paid (F.S.A. § 106.19).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: No statute
  • Paid per signature: May be paid (F.S.A. § 106.19)
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: No prohibition found

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Eight pecent of total votes cast statewide in last presidential election (F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 3)
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered voter in the county in which the petition circulates (F.S.A. § 100.371)
  • Geographic distribution: Signatures in each of one-half of the 27 congressional districts of the state (F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 3)
  • Collected in-person: No direct statute (F.S.A. § 106.191)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: No statute
  • Verification: Each county’s supervisor of elections will take a sample or verify every signature. The supervisor is paid 10 cents by the sponsor for every signature checked if they paid circulators (F.S.A. § 99.097, § 106.191).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Signatures are valid for two years, but a petition can circulate indefinitely (F.S.A. § 100.371).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: At least 30 days before Feb. 1 of the year of the general election that the measure is to be voted upon (F.S.A. § 100.371).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: General election (F.S.A. § 100.371)
  • Ballot title and summary: Sponsor, approved by secretary of state, reviewed by attorney general (F.S.A. § 101.161)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Signatures must be verified no later than Feb. 1 of the year of the general election (F.S.A. § 100.371).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: No statute
  • Majority to pass: Sixty % majority required (F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 5)
  • Timeline for taking effect: First Tuesday after the first Monday in January following the election unless otherwise specified (F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 5).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Normal amendment referendum required. To place amendment on ballot, legislature must pass resolution with three-fifths majority (F.S.A. Const. Art. 11 § 1 and 5).

IDAHO

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1912
  • Types allowed: Citizen initiative for statutes and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: None
  • Other subject restrictions: No restrictions (Const. Art. III, § 1)
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Proponents submit petition signed by 20 voters. Then within 15 days the attorney general provides certificate of review. Proponents then file the measure with the secretary of state (I.C. § 34-1804, § 34-1809).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (§ 34-1804)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Must obtain certificate of review from attorney general and file petition with secretary of state (I.C. § 34-1804, § 34-1809).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but are not limited to being considered a political committee, appointing a treasurer, filing with the secretary of state, filing regular reports with specific donor information, and may receive unlimited funds (I.C. § 67-6602, § 67-6607). 
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Attorney general (I.C. § 34-1809)
  • What is on each petition: Form is approved by secretary of state and attorney general and following rules established by secretary of state. Only 20 signatures allowed per sheet and each sheet is from one county. Must include official language from attorney general, the measures full text, and the legislative district from which the signatures were collected (I.C. § 34-1801a, § 34-1804, § 34-1809).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Petitioners, approved by secretary of state and attorney general (I.C. § 34-1804)
  • Fiscal review: No statute
  • General review of petition: Within 20 days after initial petition filing, attorney general reviews and recommends revisions in an advisory capacity.
  • Legislature or other government official review: No additional review
  • Public review or notice: Any voter or group on or before July 20 may file an argument of 500 words or less. Secretary of state will choose one argument for and one against to print in the voter pamphlet, which is mailed to every household in the state (I.C. § 34-1812a, § 34-1812b, I.C. § 34-1812c). 

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be age 18 or older and resident of Ohio (I.C. § 34-1807)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (I.C. § 34-1807)
  • Paid per signature: Ban overturned (Idaho Coalition United for Bears v. Cenarrusa, 2001)
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (I.C. § 34-1821)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Six % of the qualified electors at the time of the last general election (I.C. § 34-1805)
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors (I.C. § 34-1805)
  • Geographic distribution: Six % of the qualified electors at the time of the last general election in each of at least 18 legislative districts, out of 35 total districts (I.C. § 34-1805)
  • Collected in-person: Yes (I.C. § 34-1807, § 34-1705)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: May cross out signature on petition prior to submission to clerk or by written statement expressing wish for withdrawal after the petitions are turned in to the clerk (I.C. § 34-1803b).
  • Verification: The regular boards of judges, clerks and officers count all of them (I.C. § 34-1813).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Eighteen months or until April 30 of the year of the next general election, whichever is earlier (I.C. § 34-1802)
  • Submission deadline of signatures: May 1 in the year of the election that the initiative will appear on, or 18 months from the date the petitioner receives the official ballot title from the secretary of state, whichever is earlier. Must also file with the secretary of state not less than four months before the election at which they are to be voted on (I.C. § 34-1802).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: General election (I.C. § 34-1801a)
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general (I.C. § 34-1809)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Must file by the May before the election the measure is to be voted on (I.C. § 34-1802)

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: Measure with greatest number of affirmative votes is enacted, although the entire competing measure might not be superseded (>I.C. § 34-1811, § 34-1813).
  • Majority to pass: Yes (I.C. § 34-1803)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Within at least 30 days (I.C. § 34-1813)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No time limit or majority restrictions for legislature to overturn or alter

ILLINOIS

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1970
  • Types allowed: Citizen initiative for constitutional amendments

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: No statute
  • Other subject restrictions: May only amend structural and procedural subjects contained in Article IV” (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3 and see Coalition for Political Honesty v. State Board of Elections (1976)).
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: No fee or application prior to circulating. Must register organization (5 ILCS 20, 10 ILCS 5/28-9).
  • Where to file with: None, but state board of elections certifies signatures (5 ILCS 20/2a)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Proponents and opponents register with board of elections (10 ILCS 5/28-9).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but are not limited to quarterly reporting and following rules set by board of elections (10 ILCS 5/9-15).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Only before submissions (10 ILCS 5/28-3)

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Proponents, no statute (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3)
  • What is on each petition: Entire text of proposed measure, date of general election it is to be voted on and circulator’s statement (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3, 10 ILCS 5/28-2)

Petition Review, Creation, and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Proponents, no statute (see 10 ILCS 5/16-6; 5 ILCS 20/2)
  • Fiscal review: No statute
  • General review of petition: For accuracy and fairness, the attorney general may rewrite arguments for or against prepared by legislature (5 ILCS 20/2).
  • Legislature or other government official review: General assembly members opposing the amendment may prepare or designate others to prepare a brief argument against such amendment, submitted to attorney general (5 ILCS 20/2).
  • Public review or notice: Secretary of state publicizes the measure in newspapers in every county and prepares a pamphlet that is mailed to every mailing address in the state (5 ILCS 20/2).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: U.S. citizen and age 18 or older (10 ILCS 5/28-3)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (10 ILCS 5/28-3)
  • Paid per signature: No statute
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: No statute

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Eight % of the votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3)
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered Illinois voters (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3 and 10 ILCS 5/28-9)
  • Geographic distribution: No statute
  • Collected in-person: Yes (10 ILCS 5/28-3)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: By written request before submission of the petition to state board of elections or an officer with whom filing of the petition is required (10 ILCS 5/28-3)
  • Verification: Sampling method that must include at least 10 % of signatures or more than 5,010 signatures, whichever is greater. Validity determined by the board of elections. Must be projected to be at least 95 % accurate (10 ILCS 5/28-11, 5/28-12, 5/28-13).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Eighten months. Cannot start collecting more than two years before the election (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Six months before the general election (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3)

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: General election (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3)
  • Ballot title and summary: Proponents but certified by state board of elections and reviewed by attorney general (see 10 ILCS 5/28-5; 10 ILCS 5/16-6; 5 ILCS 20/2)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Filed at least six months before the election with the secretary of state (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3)

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: No statute
  • Majority to pass: Three-fifths of those voting on the amendment itself or a majority of those voting in the election (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Within 20 days after the election (5 ILCS 20/7)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Must go through full constitutional amendment process (ILCS Const. Art. 14, § 3)

MAINE

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1908
  • Types allowed: Indirect citizen initiative for statutes and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: No statute
  • Other subject restrictions: If there are insufficient state funds and the measure does not provide a source, it is effective 45 days after next regular legislative session (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 19).
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Written application including full text of proposed law and summary that explains its purpose, signed by five people and the applicant (21-A M.R.S.A. § 901)
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18 and 21-A M.R.S.A. § 901)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Any organization supervising or managing petition circulation must register with secretary of state (21-A M.R.S.A. § 903-C)
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but are not limited to considered same as political action committee, quarterly reports, deadlines for filing reports on specific dollar amounts of contributions, information on donors, full disclosure of campaign staffers, no limit on amount of money a contributor may give to political action committee (see 21-A M.R.S.A. § 1051, 1052, 1052-A, 1053-B, 1054, 1054-A, 1055, 1055-A, 1056, 1056-A, 1056-B, 1057, 1058, 1059, 1060, 1062-A, 1062-B and the Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices).
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Secretary of state, revisor of statutes and attorney general (21-A M.R.S.A. § 901 and 1 M.R.S.A. § 353)
  • What is on each petition: Fiscal impact statement, summary by secretary of state, name of circulator and statement on right of signer to read summary and fiscal statement before signing, and instructions from secretary of state (21-A MRSA § 901, 903)

Petition Review, Creation, and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state designs the petition and the division of elections issues the actual petition to proponents (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 20 and 21-A MRSA § 901).
  • Fiscal review: Office of Fiscal and Program Review prepares (1 M.R.S.A. § 353)
  • General review of petition: Secretary of state, along with revisor of statutes, may reject petition application if it does not conform to drafting conventions for statutes (21-A M.R.S.A. § 901 and 1 M.R.S.A. § 353, 354).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Attorney general aids summary (21-A M.R.S.A. § 901 and 1 M.R.S.A. § 353, 354).
  • Public review or notice: Thirty day comment period, with comments published along with explanatory statement and fiscal review, publicly accessible on internet and in a pamphlet. May also post in newspaper (21-A M.R.S.A. 905 and 1 M.R.S.A. § 354).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Maine resident who is a registered voter (21-A MRSA § 903-A)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 19)
  • Paid per signature: Previous ban overturned. Must register prior to signature collection and expenditures (On Our Terms '97 PAC v. Secretary of State of Maine (1999) and 21-A MRSA § 903-C).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited. (21-A M.R.S.A. § 904-B)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Ten % of the total votes cast for governor in the last gubernatorial election (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18)
  • Who can sign the petition: Electors (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18)
  • Geographic distribution: No statute
  • Collected in-person: Yes (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 20)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: No statute
  • Verification: Certified by the registrar (21-A M.R.S.A. § 902)

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: One year (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18)
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Must address written petition to the legislature and signatures must be filed with the secretary of state by the 50th day of the first regular session or by the 25th day of the second regular session. Signatures must be submitted no later than 18 months after the petition form was furnished by the secretary of state, and each signature is only valid for one year. And, must also be submitted to the appropriate officials of cities, towns or plantations, or state election officials as authorized by law, 10 days before it's due with the secretary of state (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18, 20).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Next statewide or special election after the legislative session concludes sine die (21-A M.R.S.A. § 905-A and M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18)
  • Ballot title and summary: Secretary of state and attorney general (21-A M.R.S.A. § 901, 906; 1 M.R.S.A. § 353)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Signatures submitted to appropriate state officials at least 10 days before submitted to secretary of state, which is the 50th day of the first regular session or the 25th day of the second regular session (21-A M.R.S.A. § 905-A; M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18, 20).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: Voters may choose one or reject both. If neither receives majority, the one receiving the most votes, if it receives more than one-third of the votes given for or against both, will appear at the next statewide election to be held not less than 60 days after the vote (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18).
  • Majority to pass: Yes (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 18)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after governor proclaims election results, which happens within 10 days after the vote has been canvassed and determined. But if insufficient funds for the measure, it is effective 45 days after the next convening regular legislative session. Governor may veto a measure initiative by the people and passed by the legislature, but then it is referred to the people as a popular referendum (M.R.S.A. Const. Art. 4, Pt. 3, § 19).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No statute.

MASSACHUSETTS

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1918
  • Types allowed: Indirect citizen initiative for statutes and amendments and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: No statute. See other restrictions. 
  • Other subject restrictions: Must contain only subjects that are related or mutually dependent. Cannot relate to: religion, the judiciary, specific appropriations, local or special legislation, the 18th Amendment of the constitution, anything inconsistent with the Declaration of the Rights of the Inhabitants of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 2; see also M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 74).
  • Repeat measures: Cannot be same as a measure at either of the two preceding biennial state elections (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Ten voters must sign and submit the petition to the attorney general by the first Wednesday of the August before the assembling of the general court into which it is to be introduced (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3).
  • Where to file with: Attorney general and secretary of the commonwealth once approved (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Names and residences of first 10 signers in application appear on the ballot with the summary (M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3)
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but are not limited to being a ballot question committee is treated as a type of political committee, filing electronic campaign finance reports, where a committee can spend, and unlimited contributions to a ballot question committee (M.G.L.A. 55 § 1, § 6B, § 7A, § 18C, § 18).
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Attorney general certifies submitted title and measure and summary by secretary of state, with attorney general oversight (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3; M.G.L.A. 54 § 53).
  • What is on each petition: Names of 10 original signers in the application and deadline for submission of signatures and follow guidelines of Administrative Rules 950 CMR 48.00 (M.G.L.A. 53 § 22A and M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3)

Petition Review, Creation, and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state (M.G.L.A. 53 § 22A and M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3)
  • Fiscal review: A statement of 100 words or less by secretary of administration and finance regarding fiscal consequences of the measure (M.G.L.A. 54 § 53)
  • General review of petition: Proponents may alter the measure in small ways after legislature reviews it. Pamphlet contains one-sentence statements describing the effect of a "yes" or "no" vote prepared jointly by the attorney general and the state secretary (M.G.L.A. Const. 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 2; M.G.L.A. 54 § 53).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Legislature reviews the measure as submitted to it by the proponents. The measure can be amended by a three-fourths vote in a joint session. An amendment requires at least one-fourth of members to support to get onto the ballot. The legislature may submit a competing measure to the ballot (M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3; Const. 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 2; Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4, § 3; Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 4, Pt. 3, § 1; Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4, § 5).
  • Public review or notice: A pamphlet regarding the ballot questions is sent to voters' residential addresses and published in the Massachusetts register (M.G.L.A. 54 § 53).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: No statute
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: No statute
  • Paid per signature: No statute
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: No statute

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Three % of the votes cast for governor at the preceding biennial state election to submit to the legislature. If the legislature does not enact the statute, another round of signatures is required equaling 0.5 % of votes for governor (M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4, § 2; Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 1).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified voters (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 2, § 3)
  • Geographic distribution: No more than one-quarter of signatures may come from a single county (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Gen. Prov., Pt. 2).
  • Collected in-person: No statute
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: No statute
  • Verification: Submitted to local registrars of each signer two weeks before submission to secretary of state, who establishes regulations to verify. Three or more registrars must certify the petitions and follow other rules as per administrative regulations 950 CMR 55 (M.G.L.A. 53 § 7).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline and deadlines for collecting signatures: First 10 signatures must be turned in by the “first Wednesday of the September before the assembling of the general court . . . and the remainder of the required signatures shall be filed not later than the first Wednesday of the following December.” After review by legislature, the second 0.5 % of signatures are to be collected between mid-May and July. Must be submitted to the local registrars two weeks before submission to secretary of state (M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Pt. 2, Sec. 3; Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 1; M.G.L.A. 53 § 7).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Next state election (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 4, ; Const. Art. 48, Pt. 5, § 5)
  • Ballot title and summary: The secretary of state and the attorney general also jointly make a more descriptive ballot question summary to be sent to voters. Proponents write title (M.G.L.A. 54 § 42A, § 53; M.G.L.A. Const. Art. 48, Pt. 6, Gen. Prov., § 3).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: See timeline and deadlines. Must be submitted by September, then December, and then possibly July (M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Pt. 2, Sec. 3; Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 1; M.G.L.A. 53 § 7).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: The measure receiving largest number of affirmative votes is enacted (M.G.L.A. Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4).
  • Majority to pass: Initiative amendments proposed by the people and their legislative substitutes must receive at least 30 % of the total number of ballots cast in the election and a majority of the voters voting on the measure (Massachusetts Constitution 48, Init., Pt. 4, § 5).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after the election unless otherwise provided in the act. For constitutional amendments, generally take effect upon passage. For constitutional amendments, generally take effect upon passage (Opinion of the Justices (1972) 287 N.E.2d 910, 362 Mass. 907; Const. Amend. Art. 48, Init., Pt. 5, § 1).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: May repeal or alter a statute at any time. Normal constitutional amendment requirements are needed to overturn an amendment (M.G.L.A. Const. Amend. Art. 48).

MICHIGAN

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1908
  • Types allowed: Indirect initiative for statutes, direct initiative for constitutional amendments and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: No statute
  • Other subject restrictions: The initiative power extends only to laws which the legislature may enact (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9).
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: No fees or application
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (M.C.L.A. 168.471 and M.C.L.A. 168.472)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: There may be a legally or generally recognized sponsor of the proposed amendment or question (M.C.L.A. 168.32).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to a ballot question committee filing campaign statements, filing the 16th day before the election to the 11th day before the election, a postelection campaign statement, fines if failure to file properly, advertising guidelines (M.C.L.A. 169.234; 169.247).
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: None specified for title, and summary "prepared by the person authorized by law" (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 12, § 2). Form of petition specified (M.C.L.A. 168.482).
  • What is on each petition: Full text of proposed amendment for amendments, a prescribed warning, and follow other guidelines such as form (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 12, § 2; M.C.L.A. 168.482; 168.544c).

>Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: No statute
  • Fiscal review: No statute
  • General review of petition: The director of elections, with the approval of the board of canvassers, prepares a statement of designation for the ballot (M.C.L.A. 168.32)
  • Legislature or other government official review: For indirect statute petitions, the legislature has 40 session days to pass or reject the unchanged or un-amended measure. They may also submit their own alternative ballot measure to the people if different but under the same subject area. If passed by legislature, it is subject to the referendum (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9).
  • Public review or notice: State board of canvassers holds a public meeting on the amendment or question, make an official announcement 60 days before the election, and publicly post the amendment, including in newspapers and websites (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 12, § 2; M.C.L.A. 168.22e; 168.476; 168.477; 168.480).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Can be out-of-state resident but must mark this on the affidavit. Must be 18 or older and a U.S. citizen (M.C.L.A. 168.482; 168.544c).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (M.C.L.A. 168.482; 168.544c)
  • Paid per signature: No statute
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: No statute

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: For statute, 8 % of the total votes cast for governor in the last general election. For amendments, 10 % of the total votes cast for governor (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9; Const. Art. 12, § 2).
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered electors of the state (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9; Const. Art. 12, § 2)
  • Geographic distribution: No statute
  • Collected in-person: In the presence of the circulator (M.C.L.A. 168.544c)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: No statute
  • Verification: Board of state canvassers verifies the signatures using the qualified voter file and shall complete the process at least two months before the election (M.C.L.A. 168.476).

ubmission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Have 180 days (M.C.L.A. 168.472a)
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Have 120 days before election for amendments, and 160 days before election and not less than 10 days before legislative session for statutes (M.C.L.A. 168.471; 168.472). And no signature "collected prior to a November general election at which a governor is elected shall not be filed after the date of that November general election" (M.C.L.A. 168.473b).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: For statutes, if not passed by the legislature within 40 days, then it is placed on the next general election's ballot. Same if an alternate measure is proposed (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9). A statewide special election may be called for amendments (M.C.L.A. 168.487).
  • Ballot title and summary: The board of state canvassers (M.C.L.A. 168.474a; 168.486; 168.477; 168.32)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Have 120 days before election for amendments, and 160 days before an election and not less than 10 days before legislative session for statutes (M.C.L.A. 168.471; 168.472).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: The measure with highest number of affirmative votes prevails (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9; Const. Art. 12, § 2).
  • Majority to pass: Yes (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9; Const. Art. 12, § 2)
  • Timeline for taking effect: For statutes, 10 days after the date of the official declaration of the vote, and for amendments, 45 days after election (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9; Const. Art. 12, § 2).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: For statutes, may be amended or repealed only by three-fourths of each house or by a vote of the electors. If statute petition is passed by the legislature, then it is subject to the referendum. No veto by governor for either measure passed by voters or legislature (M.C.L.A. Const. Art. 2, § 9).

MISSISSIPPI

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1992
  • Types allowed: Indirect initiative for constitutional amendments

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: No statute
  • Other subject restrictions: May not repeal/modify the state's Bill of Rights, amend/repeal provisions relating to the state's public employees' retirement system, amend/repeal right-to-work provision, or modify the initiative process, and special rules if includes expenditures (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273).
  • Repeat measures: Two years (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273; Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-43)

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: The proponent must file with the secretary of state a typewritten copy of the measure, accompanied by an affidavit that the sponsor is a qualified elector of this state as well as the fiscal requirements of the measure and the source of the revenue needed, and not less than 90 days before first day of legislature (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-1; § 23-17-3).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-1)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Statement of organization if operating financially (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-49)
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to each political committee filing with the secretary of state a statement of organization no later than 10 days after receiving at least $200 in contributions or spending at least $200, and any political committee or individual spending at least $200 must file monthly financial reports with the secretary of state (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-47; § 23-17-49; § 23-17-51; § 23-17-53).
  • Withdrawal of petition: None

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Secretary of state provides serial number, and attorney general writes a title posed as a question and summary (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-7; § 23-17-9; § 23-17-15).
  • What is on each petition: Must contain the full, true copy of the proposed measure on it on the backside or attached to it, and follow prescribed form and language, including a warning (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-17; § 23-17-19).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: The proponents (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-17)
  • Fiscal review: The chief legislative budget officer prepares a fiscal analysis, the summary of which will appear on the ballot (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273).
  • General review of petition: Attorney general may confer with proponents and recommend revisions (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-5).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Since the process is an indirect initiative, the legislature has four months to adopt the unchanged constitutional initiative by a majority in each house before the secretary of state submits it to the people. Otherwise, they may submit an alternative measure. Either way, the measure is put before the people (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273).
  • Public review or notice: A pamphlet containing titles, summaries, arguments or explanations for and against each measure and alternative (sponsors may prepare their own arguments/explanations, otherwise the Secretary of State will). The secretary of state will also conduct at least one public hearing in each congressional district on each ballot measure (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-45).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Residency requirement struck down (Term Limits Leadership Council v. Clark [1997]; Miss. Const. Art. 15, § 273; Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-17)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: None
  • Paid per signature: May be paid but not on number of petitions circulated or signatures obtained. Paying per signature was held unconstitutional (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-57; Term Limits Leadership Council v. Clark, 1997).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-57)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Twelve % of the total votes cast in the last gubernatorial race for governor (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273)
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273)
  • Geographic distribution: The maximum number of signatures counted from any individual congressional district is one-fifth of the total number required (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273).
  • Collected in-person: None
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Any person who alleges they signed as a result of fraud, coercion, or being intentional misleading as to the substance or effect of the petition, may withdraw their signature by filing an affidavit with the secretary of state any time before the secretary of state has accepted and filed the petition (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-60).
  • Verification: The circuit clerk of each county in which the petition was circulated will verify the name of every qualified voter who signed the petition (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-21).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Petitions are valid for one year (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Ninety days before the first day of the legislative session (Miss. Code § 23-17-3)

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Statewide general election (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273)
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general (Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-9)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Ninety days before the first day of the legislative session and the first five measures make it on the ballot (Miss. Code § 23-17-3; MS Const. Art. 15, § 273)

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: Measure with highest number of affirmative votes prevails (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273; Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-29)
  • Majority to pass: A majority of votes cast on the measure and not less than 40 % of total votes cast at the election. However, voters submit two preferences: (1) to approve or reject both measures and (2) deciding between the measures. If a majority of electors vote to reject both, they both fail, though the preference vote between them is still voted and made public (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273 and Miss. Code § 23-17-37).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after the official declaration of the vote unless provided otherwise in the measure (Mississippi Const. Art. 15, Sec. 273; Miss. Code Ann. § 23-17-41)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Legislature may propose alternative measure or initiate the standard process for amending the constitution (MS Const. Art. 15, § 273).

MISSOURI

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1908
  • Types allowed: Direct initiative for statutes and constitutional amendments and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50)
  • Other subject restrictions: No appropriations or other new revenues not provided for in the measure (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50, 51)
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Must file petition form draft that must contain an enacting clause and the full text of the measure no later than six months before election (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50; V.A.M.S. 116.332).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (V.A.M.S. 116.332)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: One designee will serve for official notices and statement of organization (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50; V.A.M.S. 116.332).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to no anonymous contribution in excess of $25, disclosure of contributors, corporations and labor organizations are allowed to make contributions and expenditures, following timelines and deadlines apply for filing reports (V.A.M.S. 130.110; 130.120; 130.029; 130.046; 130.041).
  • Withdrawal of petition: The sponsor may file a written notice to withdraw the initiative with the secretary of state (V.A.M.S. 116.115).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Secretary of state and approved by attorney general (V.A.M.S. 116.180; V.A.M.S. 116.334)
  • What is on each petition: Full text of the measure, all language that the measure removes and all new language, warning, county, affidavit, notary public seal, all in form prescribed (V.A.M.S. 116.050; 116.050)

Petition Review, Creation, and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state creates a sample petition and then the petition is reviewed by the attorney general (V.A.M.S. 116.334).
  • Fiscal review: State auditor prepares, and proponents may submit proposed review (V.A.M.S. 116.17).
  • General review of petition: The secretary of state will furnish ballot statements explaining the effects of a no or yes vote for the measure, which will include whether it will increase, decrease or maintain taxes (V.A.M.S. 116.025).
  • Legislature or other government official review: After certification for the ballot, the joint committee on legislative research holds a public hearing in Jefferson City to take public comments regarding the measure (V.A.M.S. 116.153).
  • Public review or notice: Public may comment for 15 days on petition once it is approved for circulation, and may attend hearing held by joint committee on legislative research, with comments from that meeting made public, and newspaper publication (V.A.M.S. 116.334; 116.260).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be 18 or older, registered with the secretary of state, and cannot have been convicted or pled guilty to forgery crimes (V.A.M.S. § 116.080).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (V.A.M.S. § 116.080)
  • Paid per signature: No ban, but must mark this and identify their employer on the affidavit (V.A.M.S. 116.030).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (V.A.M.S. 116.090)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: For statutory, 5 % of total vote for governor in the last election in each of two-thirds of the state's congressional districts. For constitutional amendments, 8 % of total vote for governor in the last election in each of two-thirds of the state's congressional districts (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50 and V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 53).
  • Who can sign the petition: Legal, registered voters (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50 and V.A.M.S. 116.060)
  • Geographic distribution: In each of two-thirds of the congressional districts, and each petition page must only contain signatures from a singular county (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50; V.A.M.S. 116.060).
  • Collected in-person: In the circulator's presence (V.A.M.S. 116.030)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: The person must file a sworn statement with the secretary of state any time before the petition is filed (V.A.M.S. § 116.110).
  • Verification: Random sampling of at least 5 % of signatures implemented by secretary of state. If a congressional district has 90 % of the needed valid signatures, the petition fails in that district. If a congressional district has 110 % of the needed valid signatures, the petition qualifies in that district. If a congressional district has 90 to 110 % of the needed valid signatures, every single signature will be verified to discern if it qualifies (V.A.M.S. § 116.120).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Eighteen months (V.A.M.S. § 116.334)
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Sponsors must submit signatures no later than six months before the election and can only start collecting the day after the previous general election (V.A.M.S. § 116.334).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: At general elections, except when a special election is ordered by the legislature (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 52)
  • Ballot title and summary: Secretary of state, approved by attorney general (V.A.M.S. 116.160; 116.180; 115.245; 116.210; 116.220)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Must be filed at least six months before the election it is to be voted on (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 50).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: Measure receiving most affirmative votes prevails, even if it did not receive the greatest majority of affirmative votes (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 51; V.A.M.S. 116.320).
  • Majority to pass: Yes (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 51)
  • Timeline for taking effect: When approved by a majority of votes (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 51)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No veto from governor, and legislature may pass statutes normally (V.A.M.S. Const. Art. 3, § 52).

MONTANA

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1906
  • Types Allowed: Direct initiative for statutes and constitutional amendments, and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (MT CONST Art. 5, § 11; Art. 5, § 11; MACo v. The State of Montana, MT 267, 2017)
  • Other subject restrictions: No amendment may change more than one section, no appropriations, and no local or special laws (MT CONST Art. 3, § 4; Art. 5, § 11; Art. 14, § 11).
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Proponents prepare ballot statements and file them (MCA 13-27-202; 13-27-312).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (MCA 13-27-202)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: The sponsor of the bill who files with the secretary of state must appoint a three-member committee advocating approval of the ballot issue. This committee is responsible for preparing the arguments for the measure and any rebuttal arguments in the information pamphlet (MCS 13-27-402).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to filing about the use of paid circulators and filing reports (MCA 13-27-112; 13-27-113).
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: The statement of purpose and implication, which is prepared by the proponent and approved by the attorney general, is the title for both the petition and ballot. If the attorney general does not approve of the statement, they prepare one themselves (MCA 13-27-312).
  • What is on each petition: Must follow form per statute, include full text of the measure, follow paper requirements, and printing instructions and internet posting requirements (MCA 13-27-201; 13-27-202; 13-27-204; 13-27-207).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state (MCA 13-27-202)
  • Fiscal review: If the measure will have an effect on revenue, expenditures or the fiscal liability of the state, the attorney general orders the budget director to prepare one (MCA § 13-27-312).
  • General review of petition: Reviews done by attorney general and legislative services division (MCA 13-27-202).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Reviews done by attorney general and legislative services division. There must also be a five-person committee of those who favor rejection, comprised of individuals appointed by the governor, attorney general, president of the senate and speaker of the house each—the fifth member is appointed by the four previous members. And attorney general reviews legality (MCA 13-27-202; 13-27-312; 13-27-402).
  • Public review or notice: The secretary of state also furnishes an information pamphlet with the title, fiscal statement if applicable, its complete text, the form in which it'll appear on the ballot, arguments for and against it, and rebuttal arguments, and will publish notices in newspaper (MCA 13-27-401; 13-27-402; 13-27-410; 13-27-311).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be Montana resident (MCA 13-27-102; 1-1-215)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (MCA § 13-27-302)
  • Paid per signature: Cannot be paid based on the number of signatures collected but can be paid in general (MCA 13-27-102; 13-27-112)
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: No statute

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: For statutes, 5 % of the total qualified electors of the state, determined by the number of votes cast for governor in the preceding general election. For amendments, 10 % of the total qualified electors of the state (MT CONST Art. 3, § 4; Art. 14, § 9; Art. 14, § 10).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors of the state of Montana (MCA 13-27-102)
  • Geographic distribution: For constitutional amendments, signatures must be gathered from 10% of qualified electors in each of two-fifths (40) of the state's 100 legislative districts (MT CONST Art. 14, § 9). For initiated state statutes or veto referendums, signatures must be gathered from 5% of qualified electors in each of one-third (34) of the state's 100 legislative districts (MT CONST Art. 3, § 4).
  • Collected in-person: Implied (MCA 13-27-102)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Any time prior to official filing (MCA 13-27-301)
  • Verification: County officials check that each signatory is a registered elector of the county. They also randomly select signatures on each page and compare them to the electors' signatures in the registration records. If any pair do not match, the rest of the signatures on that page must be verified via this comparison (MCA 13-27-303; 13-27-304).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: One year, but proponents must submit to the county officials no sooner than nine months and no later than four weeks prior to the final deadline (MCA 13-27-301; 13-27-202).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: For statute initiatives, no later than three months prior to the election the measure is to be voted upon, and must submit to the county officials no sooner than nine months and no later than four weeks prior to the final deadline (MT CONST Art. 3, § 4; MCA 13-27-301; 13-27-202).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: General election unless the legislature orders a special election (MT CONST Art. 3, § 6)
  • Ballot title and summary: Proponent and approved by the attorney general, is the title for both the petition and ballot. If the attorney general does not approve of the statement, he or she prepares one themselves (MCA § 13-27-312).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: No additional other than deadlines

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: No statute
  • Majority to pass: Yes (MT CONST Art. 3, § 4; Art. 14, § 9; MCA 13-27-503; 13-27-504)
  • Timeline for taking effect: For statutes, unless specified otherwise, Oct. 1 following approval. For amendments, unless specified otherwise, July 1 following approval (MCA 13-27-105; MT CONST Art. 14, § 9).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Governor may not veto (MT CONST Art. 6, § 10).

NEBRASKA

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1912
  • Types allowed: Direct initiative for statute and constitutional amendment, and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 2)
  • Other subject restrictions: Limited to matters that can be enacted by legislation, and no measures that interfere with the legislature’s ability to direct taxation of necessary revenues (Nebraska Const. Art. 3, Sec. 2; Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1408).
  • Repeat measures: May only be attempted once every three years (Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 2).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Proponents must submit a statement of the object of the measure and its full text to the secretary of state, along with a sworn list of their addresses and names (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Primary sponsors file names with secretary of state, and a principal circulator is listed (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405; § 32-1406).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to the provisions of the Nebraska Political Accountability and Disclosure Act. Records must be kept of contributions and expenditures. And if raising more than $5,000 in a year, the entity must register as a ballot question committee and then must file Campaign Statements and other forms with the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, all on a set timeline (Neb.Rev.St. § 49-1401).
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Proponents (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405)
  • What is on each petition: Must follow prescribed form and include the full text of the measure, a legal warning, an affidavit, the maximum number of signatures, paper and font, spacing, and if the circulator is paid (Neb.Rev.St. § 32-1401; § 32-1405; § 32-628; § 32-1403).

Petition Review, Creation, and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state (Neb.Rev.St. § 32-1405)
  • Fiscal review: No statute
  • General review of petition: The revisor of statutes reviews and recommends revisions with respect to form and draftsmanship. These may be accepted or rejected (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Secretary of state writes arguments for and against the measure with information provided by proponents and opponents (Neb.Rev.St. § 32-1405.01).
  • Public review or notice: Secretary of state creates pamphlet with information and arguments and publishes the measures in newspapers leading up to the election. Public hearings are held in each congressional district (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1405.01; § 32-1405.02; § 32-1413).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Age 18 (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-628)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-628; § 32-1546)
  • Paid per signature: No ban, but must state whether the circulator is paid or volunteering on the petition (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-628)
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (Neb.Rev.St. § 32-630; § 32-1546)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: For statutory initiatives, 7 % of votes cast for governor in last election. For constitutional amendments, 10 % of votes cast for governor in last election (Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 2; § 4)
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered voters (Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 2)
  • Geographic distribution: A requirement for 5 % of the registered voters in two-fifths of the counties each was held unconstitutional, but that case was vacated because of an issue of standing (Neb. Const. Art. III, § 2; Bernbeck v. Gale, 59 F.Supp.3d 949 [2014]; 829 F.3d 643, United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-630;  § 32-628)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: No statute
  • Verification: The election commissioner or county clerk compares each signer's information to that of voter registration records to verify that they were registered voters when they signed and verify all other information (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1409).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Two years (Neb.Rev.St. § 32-1407)
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Four months prior to the general election (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1407)

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Next general election at least four months after filing the signatures (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1407; § 32-401)
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1410)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Four months prior to the general election (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1407)

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: The amendment which receives the greatest number of affirmative votes shall be paramount in all particulars as to which there is conflict even though such amendment may not have received the greater majority of affirmative votes (Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1416).
  • Majority to pass: Majority and at least 35 % of the total votes cast in the entire election (Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 4)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Ten days (Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 4; Neb. Rev. St. § 32-1414)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Two-thirds vote required to amend or repeal, and governor may not veto (Ne.Rev.St. CONST. Art. III, § 2; Art. III, § 4).

NEVADA

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1912
  • Types allowed: Indirect initiative for statutes, direct initiative for constitutional amendments, and popular referendum.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (N.R.S. 295.009)
  • Other subject restrictions: Cannot require an expenditure of money unless a sufficient tax is provided (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 3; Art. 16, § 6; N.R.S. 295.009).
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: For statutory indirect initiatives, proponents must file a copy of the text with the secretary of state no earlier than Jan. 1 of the year preceding the year in which a regular session of the legislature is held. For constitutional amendment direct initiatives, the date is Sept. 1 of the year preceding the election year (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 1)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Must file any PACs formed to advance the measure and authorize no more than three people to withdraw or amend the petition (N.R.S. 295.009)
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to filing any PACs formed to advance the measure, limitations on total contributions, and reporting contributions received above $1,000 at various times (N.R.S. Const. Art. 2, § 10; N.R.S. 295.009; 294A.150; 294A.220).
  • Withdrawal of petition: One of three authorized people must submit a notice of withdrawal with the secretary of state (N.R.S. AB 45; 30).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: The filer submits a description pursuant to N.R.S. 295.009 with the secretary of state, and it may be amended pursuant to that statute (N.R.S. 295.015).
  • What is on each petition: The full text of the measure, the affidavit of the circulator, the name of each petition district of the registered voters signing those pages, and each petition must have a 200-word or less description on each signature page of the petition (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 3; N.R.S. 295.055; 295.009).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state (N.R.S. 295.015)
  • Fiscal review: The fiscal notes for constitutional amendments and statewide measures proposed by initiative or referendum must be prepared by the secretary of state, upon consultation with the Fiscal Analysis Division of the Legislative Counsel Bureau (N.R.S. 295.015; 293.250).
  • General review of petition: The secretary of state will appoint two, three-person committees, one for and one against the measure. The committees select a chair and may prepare arguments and rebuttals, which will be reviewed by the secretary of state for the ballot (N.R.S. 293.252).
  • Legislature or other government official review: The secretary of state consults with the legislative counsel for any technical suggestions, which will be posted to the secretary's website (N.R.S. 295.015).
  • For indirect, statutory initiatives only: The legislature has 40 days to pass the unchanged initiative. If the legislature rejects the measure, the legislature may propose an alternative measure (with the approval of the governor), and it will appear on the ballot along with the original initiative. A legislature committee also reviews the measure by a deadline (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; N.R.S. 218D.810; 293.267).
  • Public review or notice: The secretary of state and county clerks post items to the secretary of state’s website and newspapers. The Legislative Counsel Bureau distributes items to legislators, public libraries, newspapers and broadcasters (N.R.S. 295.015).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must just be at least 18 years old (N.R.S. 295.0575)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 3; N.R.S. 295.0575)
  • Paid per signature: No ban found
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (N.R.S. 295.300)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Ten % of the votes cast in last general election (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2)
  • Who can sign the petition: Registered voters (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 3)
  • Geographic distribution: Original geographical requirement found unconstitutional. Revised statutes now require that signatures be equally collected among all the petition districts (congressional districts), and this was held to be constitutional (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada v. Loma [2006]; N.R.S. 295.012; 293.069; 304.060; 304.120; Angle v. Miller, 2010, 722 F.Supp.2d 1206).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (N.R.S. 295.0575)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Can file a request with the county clerk any time before the petition is filed (N.R.S. 295.055).
  • Verification: The legislature may authorize generally accepted statistical procedures. First, the county clerks do a simple tally and the secretary of state totals these. Then the clerks verify the signatures; with a random sample of at least 500 or 5 % of the petition district's signatures. If the total signatures meet 90 to 100 % of the requirement, the clerk checks all of the signatures until 100 % is reached. It fails if under 90 % and qualifies if at least 100 % (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 3; N.R.S. 293.1276 to 293.1279).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: For direct constitutional amendments, nine months and three weeks. For indirect statutory initiatives, roughly 11 months and two weeks (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; N.R.S. 295.056)
  • Submission deadline of signatures: For direct constitutional amendments, a timeline beginning on Sept. 1 before the general election it is to be voted upon and ends on the third Tuesday of June of an even-numbered year. For indirect statutory initiatives, the timeline begins on Jan. 1 of the year preceding year in which a regular session of the legislature is held and then filed by the second Tuesday of November in an even-numbered year, or the next day (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; N.R.S. 295.056).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: General election (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2)
  • Ballot title and summary: Secretary of state, in consultation with the attorney general (N.R.S. 293.250)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Petitions cannot be filed more than 65 days before the deadline. For amendments, must be submitted for verification by the third Tuesday in June of the general election year. For statutory initiatives, must be submitted to be verified before appearing before the legislature on the second Tuesday in November in even-numbered years, or the next day (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2; Art. 19, § 3; N.R.S. 295.056).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: The measure receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes prevails (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2).
  • Majority to pass: For statutory initiatives, a majority at a single general election. For constitutional amendments, a majority of voters at two consecutive elections (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Once canvassing of votes is complete (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No amendment or repeal by the legislature within three years of enactment (N.R.S. Const. Art. 19, § 2)

NORTH DAKOTA

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1914
  • Types allowed: Direct initiative for statutes and constitutional amendments, and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: None
  • Other subject restrictions: Cannot stop emergency laws passed by the legislature or appropriations to support state departments or institutions (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 5).
  • Repeat measures: More than two elections on the “same general matter” cannot be held within 12 months (NDCC, 16.1-01-11).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Requires 25 or more must signatures as a sponsoring committee and present the complete measure to the secretary of state for approval, one of whom which must be designated as chairman of the sponsoring committee. Must have full text of the measure and names and addresses of the sponsors (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 2).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 2)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: No additional
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to reporting requirements, special provisions for out-of-state contributors, a statement regarding intent to pay circulators, and political committees must register (NDCC, 16.1-08.1-02.4; 16.1-08.1-03.1; 16.1-08.1-03.2).
  • Withdrawal of petition: None, other than the limit of circulation is one year after the petition is approved by the secretary of state (NDCC, 16.1-01-09).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Secretary of state and approved by attorney general (NDCC, 16.1-01-07)
  • What is on each petition: Must follow prescribed form and include the provisions for identification of the measure, space for the printed name, space for the signature, address of the committee member, notarization of the signature and affidavit (NDCC, 16.1-01-07; 16.1-01-09).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: The secretary of state prepares a "signature form (that) includes provisions for identification of the measure; the printed name, signature, and address of the committee member; and notarization of the signature" (NDCC, 16.1-01-07).
  • Fiscal review: The legislative council determines the estimated fiscal impact at least 90 days before the measure is to be voted on. And within 30 days of the close of the first complete fiscal year after the effective date of an initiated measure approved by the voters, the agencies, institutions, or departments that provided the estimates of the fiscal impact of the measure to the legislative management under this section shall submit a report to the legislative council on the actual fiscal impact (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 2; NDCC, 16.1-01-17).
  • General review of petition: The secretary of state reviews and if the office deems it insufficient, the committee of petitioners has 20 days to correct it (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 6).
  • Legislature or other government official review: The legislature may determine method of determining fiscal impact (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 2).
  • Public review or notice: In consultation with the attorney general, the secretary state writes an analysis of the effect of the measures, which will be published in the columns for two weeks prior to the election (NDCC, § 16.1-01-07).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be an elector and must be 18 or older (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 3; NDCC, 16.1-01-09).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 3; NDCC, 16.1-01-09)
  • Paid per signature: Cannot be paid based on the number of signatures collected, but can be paid in general as long as disclosing with the secretary of state prior to collecting signatures (NDCC, 16.1-01-12; Initiative and Referendum Institute v. Jaeger, 2001).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (NDCC, 16.1-01-12)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: For statutory initiatives, 2 % of the residential population according the last federal decennial census. For constitutional amendment initiatives, 4 % of the resident population (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 4; Art. 3, § 9; 2011 N.D. Op.Atty.Gen. No. L-04, 2011 WL 1130010, July 5, 2011).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 3; NDCC, 16.1-01-09)
  • Geographic distribution: No statute
  • Collected in-person: Yes (NDCC, 16.1-01-09)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Must do before submitted to secretary of state (NDCC, 16.1-01-09).
  • Verification: The secretary of state has 35 days to verify. The secretary of state employs a representative random sampling using questionnaires, postcards, telephone calls, personal interviews, etc, or any combinations thereof, to determine the validity of the signatures (NDCC, 16.1-01-10).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: One year after the petition is approved by the secretary of state (NDCC, 16.1-01-09)
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Must be 120 days before the election it is to be voted upon (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 5).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: A referred measure may be voted upon at a statewide election or at a special election called by the governor (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 5).
  • Ballot title and summary: Secretary of state in consultation with the attorney general, but the full text of the measure is included if it is not too long (NDCC, 16.1-06-09).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: No statute

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: The measure with the most affirmative votes becomes law (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 8).
  • Majority to pass: Yes (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 8)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after the election (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 8)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: A measure approved by the electors may not be repealed or amended by the legislative assembly for seven years from its effective date, except by a two-thirds vote of the members elected to each house (NDCC Const. Art. 3, § 8).

OHIO

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1912
  • Types allowed: Indirect initiative for statutes, direct initiative for constitutional amendments, and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (O.R.C. § 3519.01)
  • Other subject restrictions: Cannot "pass a law authorizing any classification of property for the purpose of levying different rates of taxation thereon or of authorizing the levy of any single tax on land or land values or land sites at a higher rate or by a different rule than is or may be applied to improvements thereon or to personal property" (OH Const. Art. II, § 1e).
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Submit filing fee and a petition signed by 1,000 voters to the attorney general, with a summary and complete copy of the measure. They must also designate a committee of five to represent the proponents (O.R.C. § 3519.01; 3519.02; 3513.10).
  • Where to file with: Attorney general (O.R.C. § 3519.01)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: The sponsors must delegate a committee of three to five people to represent them, and must file if any signature gatherers will be paid (O.R.C. § 3519.02; 3501.381).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to regulations on contributions, deadlines for filing reports, airing electioneering advertisements, statements, political communications, solicitation from certain groups and expenditures (O.R.C. § 3517.01, .08, .10, .11, 12, .13, .20, .092, .093, .102, .105; O.H.R. § 3599.03).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Anytime more than 70 days before the election, a majority of the committee members may withdraw the petition by writing to the secretary of state (O.R.C. § 3519.08).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Secretary of state, official committee that filed and approved by attorney general (O.R.C. § 3519.21; 3519.01; 3519.03)
  • What is on each petition: Full copy of the title and text of the law, room for signatures and information of signers, a signed circulator statement, circulator’s name and address, name of employer of circulator, summary, attorney general’s certification, a notice, and names of at least three of the committee members sponsoring the initiative (OH Const. Art. II, § 1g; O.R.C. § 3501.38; 3519.05)

Petition Review, Creation, and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Petition filed by proponents is certified by attorney general, ballot board, and secretary of state (O.R.C. § 3519.01).
  • Fiscal review: Prepared by the office of budget and management and the tax commissioner if involves taxes or expenditures (O.R.C. § 3519.04).
  • General review of petition: Reviewed by attorney general and Ohio ballot board, which also writes pro or con statements if not supplied (OH Const. Art. II, § 1g; O.R.C. § 3519.03; 3519.01; 3519.062).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Legislature reviews the indirect statutory initiatives. The legislature has four months to pass the bill in amended or unchanged form. If amended, expires or is rejected, it goes onto the ballot. Additional signatures are needed then. If legislature amends, it does not go into effect until the original is rejected by the voters (OH Const. Art. II, § 1b).
  • Public review or notice: Pro and con statements and explanations are made public prior to the election in newspapers, in public offices and on the secretary of state’s website (OH Const. Art. II, § 1g; Art. XVI, § 1; O.R.C. § 3519.07).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Must be 18 years old and an Ohio resident (O.R.C. § 3503.06).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (O.R.C. § 3501.38)
  • Paid per signature: No ban, but must state employer if paid (O.R.C. § 3519.05; 3501.38).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (O.R.C. § 3599.14)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: For constitutional amendments, 10 % of the votes cast for governor in the last election. For indirect statutory initiatives, 3 % of the votes cast for governor in the last election to submit to the legislator. Another 3 % is required to qualify for the ballot if not enacted by the legislature after four months (OH Const. Art. II, § 1b and 1g; O.R.C. § 3519.22).
  • Who can sign the petition: Electors of the state (OH Const. Art. II, § 1a; 1b; 1g; O.R.C. § 3501.38)
  • Geographic distribution: For indirect statutory initiatives, signatures must be collected from at least 44 of 88 counties, equaling 1.5 % of the votes cast for governor in each county in previous election. For constitutional amendments, from 44 of 88 counties, signatures from 5 % of the votes cast for governor in each county in previous election (OH Const. Art. II, § 1).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (O.R.C. § 3519.05; 3501.38; OH Const. Art. II, § 1g)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Signer or attorney of the signer may remove a signature before official filing (O.R.C. § 3501.38).
  • Verification: Must be verified at least 100 days before the election. Each county board certifies the signatures for their county, and the secretary of state verifies the second round of petition signatures for indirect statutory initiatives (OH Const. Art. II, § 1g; O.R.C. § 3519.15; 3519.16).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: None except when collecting the second 3 % of signatures of votes in last election for governor, the deadline is 90 days (OH Const. Art. II, § 1b).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Generally 110 days before the election. For indirect statutory initiatives, after turning in original 3 % of signatures, proponents must return next batch of signatures (another 3 %) within 90 days of the legislature not enacting or amending a measure. If the petition is insufficient, the sponsors have 10 extra days to collect more signatures (OH Const. Art. II, § 1g; Art. II, § 1b; O.R.C. § 3519.16).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: The next regular or general election occurring subsequent to the 125 days after filing signatures (OH Const. Art. II, § 1b).
  • Ballot title and summary: Ohio ballot board. Proponents may suggest title (OH Const. Art. XVI, § 1; Art. II, § 1g; O.R.C. § 3519.21).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: To be voted on at the next regular or general election subsequent to 125 days after the supplementary petition is filed (OH Const. Art. II, § 1a; 1b).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: Measure with the most affirmative votes prevails (OH Const. Art. II, § 1b).
  • Majority to pass: Yes (OH Const. Art. II, § 1b; Art. XVI, § 1)
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after the election (Ohio Const. Art. 2, Sec. 1b)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No veto by the governor (OH Const. Art. II, § 1b)

OKLAHOMA

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1907
  • Types allowed: Direct statutory and constitutional amendment initiatives, and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (OK Const. Art. 5, § 57; Art. 24, § 1)
  • Other subject restrictions: None
  • Repeat measures: For three years, measures can only be proposed again by signatures totaling 25 % of total votes cast for governor last election, and special rule for competing measures (OK Const. Art. 5, § 6; 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 21).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Must file an exact copy as found in 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 2 with the secretary of state (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (OK Const. Art. 5, § 3; 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: When first filing the petition, no more than three primary proponents must be designated (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 2).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to organizations supporting or opposing ballot measures considered political action committees and can be considered an unlimited committee, unlimited contributions to unlimited committees, and filing statements of organization and when contributions are made of greater than $1,000 (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 2; 21 Okl.St.Ann. § 187; Okl.St.Ann. Rule 2.36; Okl.St.Ann. Rule 2.79; Oklahoma Ethics Commission's Guide for Political Action Committees).
  • Withdrawal of petition: Any time before the final submission of signatures, the delegated proponents may write to the secretary of state to withdraw (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: No separate title, and a simple "statement of the gist" of the measure is included on the petition (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 3; § 8).
  • What is on each petition: Full text of the measure, follow prescribed form, signatures, warning and “a simple statement of the gist of the proposition” (OK Const. Art. 5, § 2; 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 2).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: None defined, although the secretary of state reviews and processes the petition, along with the attorney general and the Supreme Court (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8).
  • Fiscal review: No statute
  • General review of petition: Secretary of state reviews and processes the petition, along with the attorney general and the Supreme Court (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Attorney general and Supreme Court are part of the signature verification process and the ability of the public to protest as to the constitutionality of the measure. The attorney general reviews the ballot title after signed petitions are turned in (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8).
  • Public review or notice: Newspaper publication, and the public has 10 days to file a protest as to the constitutionality of the measure (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8; § 17).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: At least 18 years old and a qualified elector (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 6; Oklahomans for Modern Alcoholic Beverage Controls, Inc. v. Shelton, Okla., 501 P.2d 1089, 1972).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 6)
  • Paid per signature: No ban found
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Likely prohibition on the use of public funds (26 Okl.St.Ann. § 16-119; None other found in 26 Okl.St.Ann)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: For statutory initiatives, 8 % of legal voters that cast ballots for governor in the last election. For constitutional amendments, 15 % of legal voters (OK Const. Art. V, § 2).
  • Who can sign the petition: Legal voters of the state of Oklahoma (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 6)
  • Geographic distribution: No statute
  • Collected in-person: Yes (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 6)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: No statute
  • Verification: Each signature is physically counted. Must also be verified on the back of signature sheets by the person who circulated those sheets by an affidavit along with the signature and title of the officer before whom the oath was made (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 6; § 6.1).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Ninety days from the date marking the beginning circulation, as set by the secretary of state after public posting and chance for protest (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Ninety days from the official set date from the secretary of state (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: The next statewide election unless the legislature or governor convenes a special election for it or the governor designates a vote at the primary election (OK Const. Art. V, § 3; 34 Okl.St.Ann. § 12; § 25).
  • Ballot title and summary: Proponents submit descriptive ballot title that is reviewed by attorney general (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 8; § 9).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: No statute

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: If neither receives a majority, the one receiving more votes will be resubmitted to the next general election by itself if it received at least one-third of the total votes cast for or against the two measures. If both are approved, the one receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes prevails (34 Okl.St.Ann. § 21).
  • Majority to pass: Yes (OK Const. Art. 5, § 3)
  • Timeline for taking effect: When approved by a majority of votes (OK Const. Art. 5, § 3)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Majority of legislature may repeal or alter any statute measure (OK Const. Art. 5, § 7).

OREGON

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1902
  • Types allowed: Indirect initiative for statutes, direct initiative for constitutional amendments, and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (OR CONST Art. IV, § 1)
  • Other subject restrictions: None
  • Repeat measures: None

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: The sponsor must file a copy of the measure signed by 1,000 electors (and not more than 2,000) with the secretary of state, along with the text of the measure, whether they plan to use paid circulators, and designating three chief petitioners (O.R.S. § 250.045; 250.052).
  • Where to file: Secretary of state (OR CONST Art. IV, § 1)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: At most, three people are designated as the chief petitioners and state whether circulators will be paid or not (O.R.S. § 250.045).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to groups supporting or opposing ballot measures are treated as political committees, no statute found limiting contributions to ballot measure political committees, designation of a treasurer, filing statements of organization, and follow account and reporting requirements (O.R.S. § 250.045; § 260.035; § 260.054).
  • Withdrawal of petition: The chief petitioners may withdraw at any time before submitting the total number of signatures for verification. All chief petitioners must sign the form to withdraw (O.R.S. § 250.029).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Attorney general drafts ballot titles and certifies  statements (O.R.S. § 250.045; § 250.067; § 250.035; § 250.036; § 250.075).
  • What is on each petition: The full text of the measure, match secretary of state’s template, be the correct color and state if the circulator is paid (O.R.S. § 250.015; § 250.052; § 250.045).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state creates templates, including cover and signature sheets (O.R.S. § 250.015; § 250.052).
  • Fiscal review: The financial estimate committee will estimate costs and consult with the legislative revenue officer (O.R.S. § 250.125).
  • General review of petition: The Citizens' Initiative Review Commission reviews measures and may create a citizen panel to review specific ones (O.R.S. § 250.137; § 250.139).
  • Legislature or other government official review: The chief petitioner may amend the initiative without having to re-submit if the attorney general reviews the changes and certifies that it does not change it substantially (O.R.S. § 250.045).
  • Public review or notice: The attorney general submits a draft ballot title and the public may submit written comments regarding it, which the attorney general may use to revise the title. Fiscal statement is included in voter pamphlet as is other information. And secretary of state will hold public hearings at least 95 days before the election (O.R.S. § 250.125; § 250.067; § 250.127).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: To register as a paid circulator, in the past five years one cannot have been convicted of a crime involving fraud, forgery, or identification theft or have been subject to a civil penalty due to an election offense. A criminal records check is completed. If paid, must also register with the secretary of state and take training program (O.R.S. § 250.048).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: No, but they certify that each signature was in their presence and that they believe each individual is an elector (O.R.S. § 250.045).
  • Paid per signature: Circulators may be paid but not by the signature. The chief petitioners must notify the secretary of state that at least one person will be paid, and it will say this on the petitions. The circulator must also register with the secretary of state and complete a training program specified by the secretary (OR Rev. Stat. § 250.045; § 250.048).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (O.R.S. § 250.048; OR CONST Art. IV, § 1b)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: For statutory initiatives, 6 % of the total votes cast for all candidates for governor in last general election. For constitutional amendments, 8 % of the total votes cast for all candidates for governor in the last general election (OR CONST Art. IV, § 1).
  • Who can sign the petition: Electors (O.R.S. § 250.025)
  • Geographic distribution: None
  • Collected in-person: Yes (O.R.S. § 250.045)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: May not remove after official submission of petitions (O.R.S. § 250.025).
  • Verification: The secretary of state establishes the statistical sampling method. A petition may only be rejected if two different sampling processes determine it does not have sufficient signatures. The second sampling must use a greater number of signatures than the first. The two samples must total at least 5 % of the signatures submitted. To account for double-signing, the secretary will apply at least an 8 % duplication rate to the first sampling. If a second sampling is needed, an estimated duplication rate will be calculated. Proponents must turn in sheets each month (O.R.S. § 250.105).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: If the petitions were filed at least 165 days before the election and the signatures are deemed insufficient, they may collect more (O.R.S. § 250.105).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Four months prior to the general election (OR CONST Art. IV, § 1).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Regular election unless otherwise ordered by Legislative Assembly (OR CONST Art. IV, § 1)
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general (O.R.S. § 250.065)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Four months prior to the general election (OR CONST Art. IV, § 1)

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: No statute found other than if the attorney general determines that their subject/purpose/effect are similar, they will give them identical ballot titles (OR Rev. Stat. § 250.062).
  • Majority to pass: Majority only, but the election must have at least 50 % voter turnout (OR CONST Art. XVII, § 1; Art. IV, § 1; O.R.S. § 250.036).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Thirty days after it is enacted or approved by a majority of the votes cast (OR CONST Art. IV, § 1).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Only laws that change vote requirements require a supermajority (OR CONST Art.II, § 23; Art. IV, § 1).

SOUTH DAKOTA

State flag

Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1898
  • Types allowed: Indirect initiative for statute, direct initiative for constitutional amendment, and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: None
  • Other subject restrictions: No private or special laws (Const. Art. 3, § 23)
  • Repeat measures: None found

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Must file complete measure with the Legislative Research Council. Must also provide a notarized list of names of proponents and a statement of organization. These are all then submitted to the secretary of state (SDCL § 12-13-25.1; 12-13-26).
  • Where to file with: Legislative Research Council, attorney general and secretary of state (SDCL § 12-13-25.1; 12-13-26)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Must also file statement of organization (SDCL § 12-27-6).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to statewide ballot question committee must file pre-primary, pre-general, year-end and, if applicable, supplemental report and amendments (SDCL § 12-27-22; SDCL § 12-27-3)
  • Withdrawal of petition: May remove no later than 120 days prior to the next general election (SDCL § 2-1-2.3).

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Attorney general, after receiving written comments from the Legislative Research Council (SDCL § 12-13-25.1)
  • What is on each petition: Secretary of state reviews the petitions and each shall contain the full text of the initiative, the date of the general election it is to be voted on, the title and explanation prepared by the attorney general, accompanied by a notarized affidavit signed by each person who is a sponsor, and accompanied by statement of organization. The petition and affidavit are prescribed by the state board of elections and follow administrative rules (SDCL § 2-1-1.1; § 2-1-1.2; South Dakota Administrative Rules 5:02:08:07)

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Secretary of state reviews the petitions (SDCL § 2-1-1.1; SDCL § 2-1-1.2).
  • Fiscal review: Director of the Legislative Research Council prepares a fiscal note as requested (SDLC § 2-9-30; § 2-9-31; § 2-9-34).
  • General review of petition: None other found
  • Legislature or other government official review: The Legislative Research Council also provides written comments to the attorney general (SDCL § 12-13-25; § 12-13-25.1).
  • Public review or notice: Secretary of state shall print pamphlet of statements in support and against the measures along with the attorney general's title, explanation, and clear statement of a yes or no vote, and if possible, a fiscal statement (SDCL § 12-13-23).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Resident of South Dakota who is at least 18 years old (SDCL § 12-1-3)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Official sponsors must sign at least two-thirds of the petitions (DCL § 2-1-1.2). Administrative rules 5:02:08:09 and 5:02:08:07.02 require that circulators sign affidavit as well.
  • Paid per signature: Cannot pay based on signature total collected. But you explicitly may pay based on hourly wage or salary, express or implied minimum signature requirements for the circulator to meet, terminate someone's employment if they do not meet "certain productivity requirements," and pay “discretionary bonuses based on reliability, longevity, and productivity” (SDCL § 12-13-28).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: No statute

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Not more than 5 % of the qualified electors, based on the total number of votes cast for governor at the last preceding gubernatorial elections (Const. Art. 3, § 1 and SDCL § 2-1-5).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified electors and every person who is a qualified voter (Const. Art. 3, § 1; SDCL § 2-1-6).
  • Geographic distribution: None found
  • Collected in-person: Yes (SDCL § 2-1-70)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: No statute
  • Verification: Secretary of state verifies via a random sampling (SDCL § 2-1-11; § 2-1-15; § 2-1-16; SDCL § 2-1-17).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Twelve months. No signatures may be obtained prior to 24 months before the general elections that it is to be voted upon, and signatures must be filed one year prior to the election (SDCL § 2-1-1.2).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: Signatures must be filed one year prior to the election (SDCL § 2-1-1.2).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: General election (SDCL § 2-1-17)
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general after receiving written comments from the Legislative Research Council (SDCL § 12-13-25.1).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Signatures must be filed one year prior to the election (SDCL § 2-1-1.2).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: No Statute
  • Majority to pass: Yes (SDCL § 2-1-12)
  • Timeline for taking effect: The first day of July after the completion of the official canvass (SDCL § 2-1-12)
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No veto by governor. Legislature may repeal statute with majority vote (Const. Art. 3, § 1 and Const. Art. 13, § 1).

UTAH

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1900
  • Types allowed: Direct and indirect initiatives for statutes, and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202; U.C.A. 1953, Const. Art. 6, § 22)
  • Other Subject restrictions: No restrictions (See U.C.A. 1953, Const. Art. 6, § 1)
  • Repeat measures: Two years (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202)

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: At least five sponsors must apply, each of whom is registered to vote in Utah. Must submit full text and title, and statement as to the use or not of paid circulators (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202).
  • Where to file with: Lieutenant governor (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: At least five sponsors must apply (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202)
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to that proponent or opponent groups for a ballot proposition are considered political issue committees unless they meet certain criteria such as not expending more than $5,000, and political issue committees register and report financially (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-11-101; § 20A-11-801; § 20A-11-802; § 20A-11-803).
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Proponents (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202)
  • What is on each petition: Petitions substantially follow the form found in U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-203 and include notice to signers, date, room for signatures, title of the initiative, the fiscal impact statement, a warning, language about a tax increase if applicable, and signed verification by the circulator (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-203).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Lieutenant governor (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-204)
  • Fiscal review: Governor's Office of Management and Budget conducts an estimate (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202.5).
  • General review of petition: After the hearings the proponents and Governor's Office of Management and Budget may revise (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-204.1).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel prepares an impartial analysis of the measure, to be included in voter pamphlet. For indirect initiatives, the legislature may make technical changes only, and prepare a legislative review note and a legislative fiscal note on the law proposed by the initiative petition. Then the legislature rejects or accepts the proposition unchanged (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-208; § 20A-7-702).
  • Public review or notice: At least seven public hearings are held on the propositions before circulation in designated regions. No earlier than 75 days, and no later than 15 days, voter information pamphlet and newspaper publication (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-702; § 20A-7-204.1; § 20A-7-701-706).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Resident and 18 years old (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-203; § 20A-1-307)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Yes (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-203)
  • Paid per signature: No ban, but must provide a statement whether signature collectors may be paid (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-202; § 20A-7-205.5).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-213)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: For indirect initiatives submitted to the legislature, 5 % of all votes cast for all candidates for U.S. president at the last general election. For direct initiatives, 10 % of the cumulative total of all votes cast for U.S. president. If the legislature does not enact the proposition, then proponents may collect the additional 5 % of signatures required to get the measure onto the ballot (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-201; § 20A-7-208). 
  • Who can sign the petition: Legal voters, 18 years old, resident (U.C.A. 1953, Const. Art. 6, § 1; U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-205; § 20A-2-105)
  • Geographic distribution: Yes. From each of at least 26 Utah State Senate districts, legal signatures equal to 5 % for indirect or 10 % for direct initiatives of the total of all votes cast in that district for all candidates for U.S. president at the last general election (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-201).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-205)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Yes, before May 15, signer submits request to county clerk (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-205).
  • Verification: Direct initiatives are turned into the county clerk of the county in which the initiative packet was circulate. Clerks check the names, verify they are 18 or older, and determine if they are a registered voter. Then they deliver the verified packets to the lieutenant governor. Clerks follow specific guidelines as to verification decisions in code. Once the lieutenant governor receives the verified packets from the clerks, they count the number of names and declare the proposition sufficient or not (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-206; § 20A-7-206.3; § 20A-7-207).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: Within 316 days after the day on which the application is filed or the April 15 immediately before the next regular general election immediately after the application is filed (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-206).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: For direct initiatives, April 15 immediately before the next general election (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-206).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: General election, but governor and legislature may call special elections (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-1-201; § 20A-1-203; § 20A-7-206).
  • Ballot title and summary: The Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel numbers the propositions and proposes a descriptive title summarizing the contents of the measure. Evaluations done by lieutenant governor and Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-207; § 20A-7-209; § 20A-6-107).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: Certified ballot title is due at least 65 days before the election. For direct initiatives, signatures must be submitted by April 15 immediately before the next general election (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-6-106; § 20A-7-206).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: If the governor believes that two approved laws, or parts laws, are entirely in conflict, they proclaim the measure to be law that has received the greatest number of affirmative votes (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-211).
  • Majority to pass: Yes, except two-thirds majority is need in the case of laws changing rules regarding the taking of (U.C.A. 1953, Const. Art. 6, § 1).
  • Timeline for taking effect: For indirect initiatives, 60 days after the adjournment of the legislative session that passed it. For a direct initiative, unless otherwise specified, they do not take effect until five days after the date of the official proclamation by the governor (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-212).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: Governor may not veto. For statutes, the legislature may amend at any legislative session (U.C.A. 1953 § 20A-7-212).

WASHINGTON

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Types and Year Established

  • Year established: 1912
  • Types allowed: Direction and indirect initiatives for statutes, and popular referendum

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 19; Amalgamated Transit Union Local 597 v. State of Washington, 11 P.3d 762, 2000)
  • Other subject restrictions: None (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 24)
  • Repeat measures: No statute

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Must file a copy of the measure with the secretary of state and the sponsor; as an individual or acting on behalf of an organization, must file an affidavit. May include a fee (RCWA 29A.72.010; 43.07.120; 29A.72.020; 29A.72.040).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 1)
  • Proponent organization and requirements: Must sign affidavit and must refile after recommendations (RCWA 29A.72.010; 43.07.120; 29A.72.020; 29A.72.040).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to being covered by the state’s campaign finance laws, must follow reporting rules, and file statement of organization (RCWA 42.17A.005; 42.17A; 42.17A.205).  
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: Attorney general (RCWA 29A.72.060)
  • What is on each petition: Ballot title, summary, warning and full text of the measure (RCWA 29A.72.120; 29A.72.110)

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: Proponents can produce them but must follow form (RCWA 29A.72.100).
  • Fiscal review: Prepared by the office of financial management, in consultation with the secretary of state, the attorney general, and any other appropriate state or local agency (RCWA 29A.72.025).
  • General review of petition: Code reviser or assistant code reviser reviews the proposal of the initial petition and recommends revisions or alterations in an advisory capacity only. Code reviser issues certificate of review (RCWA 29A.72.020).
  • Legislature or other government official review: Attorney general prepares explanatory statements. And arguments for and against are prepared by committees with members appointed first by the secretary of state, the senate's presiding office and the house's presiding officer (RCWA 29A.32.040; 29A.32.060).
  • Public review or notice: Secretary of state prepares and distributes voter pamphlets to each household in the state and other locations (RCWA 29A.32.010; 29A.32.031; 29A.32.040; 29A.32.070; 29A.32.080).

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: Legal voter (RCWA 29A.72.120)
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Sponsor signs affidavit, and circulators sign oath (RCWA 29A.72.010; 29A.72.120).
  • Paid per signature: No ban found. Ban struck down by courts (RCWA 29A.84.280; LIMIT v. Maleng, 1994).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (RCWA 29A.72.110; 29A.72.120; 29A.72.130; RCWA 29A.84.250)

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: Eight % of the votes cast for the office of governor at the last regular gubernatorial election prior to the submission of the signatures for verification (RCWA 29A.72.150)
  • Who can sign the petition: Legal voters (RCWA 29A.72.120)
  • Geographic distribution: No statute
  • Collected in-person: Yes (RCWA 29A.72.120)
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Only accepted before signatures are filed (People v. Hinkle [1924] 130 Wash. 419, 227 P. 861)
  • Verification: The secretary of state may use any statistical sampling techniques for this verification and canvass which have been adopted by rule as provided by chapter 34.05 RCW (RCWA 29A.72.230).

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: For direct initiatives, six months to collect (submit proposed measure within 10 months with deadline to submit four months out from the general election). For indirect initiatives, about nine months (proposed measure submitted within 10 months of the session it is to be submitted at with a deadline of 10 days before the session) (RCWA 29A.72.030).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: For indirect measures, at least 10 days before the regular session that is the session that was 10 months out when the proposed measure was submitted. For direct measures, four months from the election (RCWA 29A.72.030).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: Next general election or a special election if ordered by the legislature (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 1)
  • Ballot title and summary: Attorney general (RCWA 29A.72.050)
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: No additional statute

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: The measure receiving a majority of the votes passes (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 1).
  • Majority to pass: Yes, except in the case of authorizing gambling or lottery, which requires 60 % to pass (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 24).
  • Timeline for taking effect: On and after the 30th day after it the initiative was approved by voters unless otherwise specified (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 1).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: No veto by governor. Legislature may amend initiative after two years. The legislature may amend before two years with a two-thirds majority vote in both chambers, and no amendatory law adopted in accordance with this provision shall be subject to referendum (RCWA Const. Art. 2, § 1).

Wyoming

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Types and Year Established

  • Year Established: 1968.
  • Types Allowed: Indirect initiative for statutes, and popular referendum.

Allowable Subject Matter

  • Single subject rule: Yes (Const. Art. 3, § 24).
  • Other Subject restrictions: Cannot dedicate revenues, make or repeal appropriations, create courts, define the jurisdiction of courts, prescribe court rules, enact local or special legislation, or enact legislation prohibited by the Wyoming constitution (Const. Art. 3, § 52).
  • Repeat measures: 5 years on any measure that is "substantially the same as that defeated by" the previous measure (W.S.1977 § 22-24-301).

Petition Application Process

  • Application process information: Application form will be prescribed by the secretary of state. Must file measure's full text and three designated sponsors who are Wyoming voters to act as official sponsors of the campaign. A filing fee of $500 accompanies the application (W.S.1977 § 22-24-302; § 22-24-303).
  • Where to file with: Secretary of state (W.S.1977 § 22-24-302).
  • Proponent organization and requirements: No later than thirty (30) days after a proposed bill is submitted for certification, the committee of applicants the names of 100 registered voters who will act as sponsors. Must also meet conditional certification (W.S.1977 § 22-24-304; § 22-24-308).
  • Proponent financial disclosure requirements: Include but may not be limited to being considered political action committees, following regulations for political advertising, and the filing of contribution and expenditure reports (W.S.1977 § 22-1-102; § 22-24-201; § 22-24-306). 
  • Withdrawal of petition: No statute.

Petition Content

  • Petition title and summary creation: The secretary of state (W.S.1977 § 22-24-310).
  • What is on each petition: The petitions must have a copy of the bill, an impartial summary, a warning, space for signatures, and if the circulator is paid (W.S.1977 § 22-24-304; § 22-24-310; § 22-24-311).

Petition Review, Creation and Public Notice

  • Who creates petitions: The secretary of state creates the form and the petitions at the expense of the sponsors (W.S.1977 § 22-24-310; § 22-24-311).
  • Fiscal review: Yes (W.S.1977 § 22-24-309).
  • General review of petition: None other found.
  • Legislature or other government official review: Upon request, the legislative service office or any agency in the executive department shall render assistance in reviewing and preparing comments on the proposed bill. The attorney general may determine an act of the legislature is the same as a proposed law and will remove it from appearing on the ballot (W.S.1977 § 22-24-304; § 22-24-319).
  • Public review or notice: None other found..

Circulators

  • Circulator requirements: 18 years-old and US citizen and sworn oath by an official sponsor of the initiative as to the identities of the proposed circulators (W.S.1977 § 22-24-306).
  • Circulator oaths or affidavits: Either the sponsor or circulator in accordance with W.S. 22-24-306 (W.S.1977 § 22-24-314).
  • Paid per signature: No ban on initiative petitions, but a statement must appear on the petition if circulator is being paid (W.S.1977 § 22-24-310).
  • Allowed to pay another for their signature: Prohibited (W.S.1977 § 22-24-323).

Signatures

  • Number of signatures required: 15% of the total ballots cast in the previous general election (Const. Art. 3, § 52).
  • Who can sign the petition: Qualified registered voter (W.S.1977 § 22-24-313).
  • Geographic distribution: Yes, signed by qualified voters equal in number to 15% of those resident in at least two-thirds of the counties of the state, as determined by those who voted in the preceding general election in that county (Const. Art. 3, § 52).
  • Collected in-person: Yes (W.S.1977 § 22-24-312).
  • Withdrawal process of individual signature: Secretary of state verifies the signatures for total number and from two-thirds of the counties (W.S.1977 § 22-24-316).
  • Verification:

Submission Timelines and Deadlines

  • Timeline for collecting signatures: 18 months (W.S.1977 § 22-24-315).
  • Submission deadline of signatures: 18 months (W.S.1977 § 22-24-315).

Ballot Access and Preparation

  • Which election is a measure on: The next general election after signature petitions filed, a legislative session has convened and adjourned, and 120 days after the legislative session adjournment (W.S.1977 § 22-24-319).
  • Ballot title and summary: The secretary of the state and attorney general (W.S.1977 § 22-24-317).
  • Time period restrictions before placed on the ballot: 120 days after the adjournment of the legislative session (W.S.1977 § 22-24-319).

The Election and Effect

  • Conflicting measures: No statute.
  • Majority to pass: Majority and at least 50% of the total votes cast in the entire election (W.S.1977 § 22-2-117).
  • Timeline for taking effect: Effective 90 days after certification (Const. Art. 3, § 52).
  • Repeal or change restrictions: For statutes, may not be repealed by the legislature within two years of its effective date (Const. Art. 3, § 52).