Initiative Petition (IP) Process

INITIATIVE PETITION (IP), what it is, what it isn’t, and how it works!
Contributed in part by Patrick Martin 

An IP isn’t Oregon legislation! Meaning it’s not a proposed law created by the State of Oregon. An Oregon bill would have a different designation such as (SB) which is the acronym for Senate Bill. The people can overturn (Repeal) a SB via an IP, it just takes a successful petition placing it on the ballot so Oregon voters can decide if it becomes law.

Since 1902, the Oregon Constitution has provided voters with three methods of directly affecting changes to the Oregon Revised Statutes and the Oregon Constitution: the initiative, the referral and the referendum. While they differ somewhat in the process of getting to the ballot, the initiative, referral and referendum place the ultimate authority to change the law in the hands of the people.

Initiative Petition (IP)The initiative process gives direct legislative power to the voters to enact new laws, change existing laws, or amend the Oregon Constitution. Any person may be a chief petitioner of an initiative petition. Article IV, Section 1 of the Oregon Constitution establishes the number of signatures that must be gathered to qualify for the ballot is based on the number of votes cast for Governor during the most recent gubernatorial election – six percent for statutory amendments and eight percent for constitutional amendments.

The Referral – The referral process gives voters the opportunity to decide on Constitutional or statutory changes proposed by the Oregon Legislature. If both the Oregon House of Representatives and the Senate vote to send a measure to the state ballot, the measure is not subject to the Governor’s veto power.

The Referendum – The referendum process allows voters the opportunity to reject legislation (Acts) adopted by the Oregon Legislature. The only Acts exempt from a referendum are those with an emergency clause – Acts that the Legislative Assembly declares are necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety. Any person may become a chief petitioner of a referendum petition. For a referendum to qualify, the chief petitioners must receive written approval from the Secretary of State to circulate the text of the Act among registered voters. The number of valid signatures needed, no later than 90 days after the Legislature adjourns, is set by the Constitution at four percent of the number of votes cast during the most recent gubernatorial election.

Initiative Petition Process:

Anyone person or group can start an Initiative Petition. The first part of the process is to write up the proposal and get a thousand signatures that support it. At that point it’s not an actual petition until signatures are verified as registered voters by the Oregon Secretary of State and the State Attorney General verifies it is constitutional. Once the Secretary of State certifies it then it becomes a legitimate petition for collecting signatures, which will also be verified by the Secretary of State and then it will go on the ballot as a ballot measure.  The people voting an IP into law can still be invalidated by the State Legislator with a ¾ legislator majority vote. Oregon law makers have a right to throw out a petition even if it gets the majority vote. This right to cancel voted in IP’s is written in the Oregon Constitution.

There are deadlines and other factors such as when submitting the first 1,000 signatures, the text of the prospective petition goes to the attorney general for the drafting of a ballot title, which impartially summarizes the petition and its major effect.

For processes, number of signatures and deadlines, check the Secretary of State website. It’s best to get more signatures than required as on average 30% of signatures can’t be verified and thrown out. Currently for 2018, the number of valid signatures required to qualify an initiative for the ballot is based on a percentage of the total votes cast for governor at the last election:

  • For a constitutional initiative, 8% (117,578) of valid signatures is required.
  • For a statutory initiative, 6% (88,184) of valid signatures is required.

NOTE: 92% of all Initiative Petitions Never get on the ballot mostly due to a lack of signatures by the deadline.

We The People have a voice. There is even training from Western Liberty Network on how to be an effective citizen in campaign by making a personal campaign response plan. As an example, learn How to Circulate Initiative and Referendum Petitions. Find other useful information at Western Liberty Network and ask for a presentation at a local meeting.