Chief petitioner is a ballot access term unique to Oregon. In Oregon, each ballot measure must have one or more chief petitioners. When the proposed ballot initiative is originally submitted to the Oregon Secretary of State under Oregon's law governing initiative and referendum, the names and addresses of the chief petitioner(s) must be provided at that time.
Legal responsibilities of the chief petitioner
A chief petitioner's responsibilities include:
- Signing and filing a statement to provide required information for all chief petitioners;
- Establishing a petition committee;
- Educating and monitoring circulators;
- Collecting signatures; and
- Submitting signatures.
The requirements of the chief petitioner vary depending on the type of ballot initiative.
Initiative and referendum petitions
Here, anyone can a chief petitioner. It makes no difference if a person is acting individually or on behalf of an organization. Further, initiative and referendum petitions may have up to three chief petitioners, and at least one of these petitioners must remain involved throughout the process. If additional individuals wish to be made a chief petitioner on the initiative, they must be added before election officials approve the signature sheet for circulation. Further, if each original chief petitioner resigns, the petition must be refiled and go through the approval process again.
Oregon allows only one chief petitioner for petitions to recall elected officials from office. The chief petitioner here must be a registered Oregonian voter in the same district in which the official was elected.