Approved for circulation

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"Approved (or 'cleared') for circulation" is a term that some I&R states use to define a stage of the citizen initiative process. These are states where the legal language of the proposed new amendment or statute goes through an approval and vetting process with one or more state agencies before it is deemed to be ready for circulation by paid or volunteer petition circulators.

The extent to which a proposed initiative must go through a sequence of steps, and what those steps are, before it is considered to have permission to be circulated, varies considerably from state-to-state.

Some typical steps that a proposed initiative must go through before it can be circulated include (not all states require all these steps):

  • The exact text of the proposed initiative must be submitted to the proper election authority in the state.
  • A filing fee must be paid.
  • Initial "Sponsorship signatures" must be submitted.
  • An official ballot title must be conferred on the proposed initiative by a government agency.
  • Sponsors must receive an official communication from a government agency notifying them that their initiative is cleared for circulation.

Initial sponsorship signatures

Some states require the signatures of a certain number of initial initiative sponsors before they will certify that the initiative is cleared for circulation.

  • Alaska: 3 prime sponsors must file a statement that they are the initiative committee representing all other sponsors. The signatures of at least 100 qualified voters who will serve as sponsors of the ballot measure for circulation purposes must also be submitted.
  • Florida: In Florida, there is an initial circulation period during which proponents must collect 10% of the number of required signatures from at least seven (7) of the U.S. Congressional districts in the state. Once they have done this, if the signatures are judged to be valid, the Attorney General of Florida is given the initiative for review, and must give it to the Florida Supreme Court for additional review. If these reviews are successful, sponsors may proceed to collect the remaining signatures.
  • Idaho: Signatures of 20 Idaho electors must accompany the initial filing of an initiative in Idaho.
  • Maine: Signatures of five primary sponsors must accompany applications for citizen initiatives or a People's Veto.
  • Massachusetts: Ten (10) qualified voters must draw up and sign the original petition putting forward the full text of the law they want enacted.
  • North Dakota: The request for approval must be presented with the names and signatures of 25 or more electors as sponsors, one of whom must be designated as chairman of the sponsoring committee.
  • Ohio: The proponents of the measure must designate a committee of not less than three (3) nor more than five (5) persons to represent them in all matters relating to the petition. Next, a written petition signed by 1,000 electors must be submitted to the Ohio Attorney General with the full text and summary of the proposed statute or amendment.
  • Oregon: Once 1,000 sponsorship signatures have been submitted, the Oregon Attorney General has 5 days to write a ballot title and summary.
  • Utah: The application requires five sponsors who must be registered voters and have voted in regular general elections in Utah in the last three years.
  • Wyoming: A committee of initiative sponsors must submit the names, signatures, addresses and the date of signing of 100 qualified electors to act as sponsors supporting the application in its final form to the Secretary of State.

Initial filing fees

Some states require that sponsors of a proposed initiative pay them a fee before they will clear an initiative for circulation.

  • California: Prior to circulation, proponents of an initiative must submit the text of the proposed initiative to the Attorney General of California's Initiative Coordinator along with, among other things, a $200 deposit. The deposit deposit is refundable upon qualification of the ballot.
  • Wyoming: There is a $500 filing fee in this state.