Procedures for qualifying an initiative in Oregon

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This article goes through the procedures for qualifying an initiative in Oregon where

voters can amend their constitution and create new state laws through the initiative process, and can overturn laws passed by the Oregon legislature through the veto referendum process.

The Oregon Secretary of State web site is extremely informative and useful for finding further information on current initiatives, past initiatives, and proposing initiatives. Please see external links at the bottom of this page for a link to the Secretary of State's frequently asked questions.

For a more indepth look at the initiative laws in Oregon, please see: Laws governing the initiative process in Oregon

Initial steps for proposing an initiative

The first step in the process is to file wording for the initiative and an application with the Oregon Secretary of State, who is required to immediately send a copy to the Oregon Attorney General. Once 1,000 sponsorship signatures have been submitted, the Attorney General has 5 days to write a ballot title and summary. The Attorney General then sends the title and summary to the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State sends copies of the full text, title and summary to the Legislature, proponents and other interested parties, including journalists and activists who are on the Secretary of State’s email list.

There is then a 15 day comment period during which the public can review and debate the ballot title, summary and full text. There are no official public hearings. It is during this 15-day comment period that the proponent can challenge the wording chosen by the Attorney General directly to the Oregon Supreme Court. The Court, however, does not have a set time frame for dealing with any disputes. If the proponent agrees with the ballot title, then the proponent will put the petition in the correct format with the ballot title and begin collecting signatures after the 15 days.

It has been the practice in Oregon to file several measures with the Secretary of State with slightly different wording, so that the chief petitioner gets several different ballot titles to choose from before deciding which to circulate. A 2007 change in Oregon's law--requiring sponsors to file 1,000 sponsorship signatures before a ballot title will be issued--may reduce the frequency of this practice.

Details

Deadlines:

Initiatives can be submitted any time after July of two years before the election. Signatures can then be collected from the time of the initiative filing until July of the election year, a time frame of nearly two years.

See petition drive deadlines in 2008.

Distribution Requirement:

Oregon does not have a distribution requirement.

Number of required signatures

The number of required signatures is tied to the number of voters who cast a vote in the state's most recent gubernatorial election. Valid signatures equalling 8% of votes cast for governor are needed for an initiated constitutional amendment and signatures equal to to 6% of votes cast for governor are required for an initiated statute.

For 2008, this will be 110,358 signatures for an initiated amendment and 82,769 for an initiated statute.

See also: Oregon signature requirements.

Signature verification process

Petitions are turned into the Secretary of State’s office. The Secretary of State highlights a random sample and sends them out to the appropriate counties for verification.

Single–subject restriction

Oregon has a single-subject rule.

Legislative tampering

The Oregon legislature can repeal and amend initiative statutes by simple majority.


See also

External links