Laws governing the initiative process in Idaho (archive)

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Here is an overview of some of the laws governing the initiative process in Idaho. Idaho has a statutory Initiative & Referendum process. Citizens can pass laws they write or suspend a statute passed by the Legislature by collecting enough petition signatures to place the statute on the statewide ballot for a decision by the voters. There is no process for passing a constitutional amendment by Initiative in Idaho[1]

See also: Procedures for qualifying an initiative in Idaho

Initiative and Referendum

Initial proposal:

"Before or at the time of beginning to circulate any petition for the referendum to the people on any act passed by the state legislature of the state of Idaho, or for any law proposed by the initiative, the person or persons or organization or organizations under whose authority the measure is to be referred or initiated shall send or deliver to the secretary of state a copy of such petition duly signed by at least twenty (20) qualified electors of the state which shall be filed by said officer in his office, and who shall immediately transmit a copy of the petition to the attorney general for the issuance of the certificate of review as provided in section 34-1809, Idaho Code.

The Idaho Attorney General may confer with the petitioner and shall, within 20 working days after receipt, review the proposed petition for substantive improvements and shall recommend to the petitioner such revision or alteration of the measure as may be deemed necessary and appropriate. The recommendations of the Attorney General shall be advisory only and the petitioner may accept or reject them in whole or in part.

Any qualified elector of the state of Idaho may, at any time after the certificate of review is issued, bring an action in the Idaho Supreme Court to determine the constitutionality of the initiative.

Within 15 working days after the issuance of the Certificate of Review, the petitioner, if they desire to proceed, with their sponsorship, shall inform the Secretary of State, in writing, of their intent. The Attorney General shall provide ballot titles, on the final proposal, within ten (10) working days. Any person who is dissatisfied with ballot titles, may appeal to the Supreme Court within 20 days after said ballot title is filed in the office of the Secretary of State. Any voter or group of voters may on or before July 20 prepare and file an argument not to exceed 500 words, for or against any measure. Rebuttal Arguments, not to exceed 250 words may be submitted no later than August 1."[2]

Petition format:

"All petitions for the initiative and for the referendum and sheets for signatures shall be printed on a good quality of bond or ledger paper in the form and manner as approved by the secretary of state. To every sheet of petitioners’ signatures shall be attached a full and correct copy of the measure so proposed by initiative petition; but such petition may be filed by the secretary of state in numbered sections for convenience in handling. Every sheet of petitioners’ signatures upon referendum petitions shall be attached to a full and correct copy of the measure on which the referendum is demanded, and may be filed in numbered sections in like manner as initiative petitions. Not more than twenty (20) signatures on one (1) sheet shall be counted. Each signature sheet shall contain signatures of qualified electors from only one (1) county."[2]

Signature requirements:

See also: Idaho signature requirements

The number of signatures required is equal to 6% of the registered voters as of the last general election in each of at least 18 legislative districts; provided, however, the total number of signatures shall be equal to or greater than 6% of the qualified electors in the state at the time of the last general election.

Year Statute Veto referendum
2014 53,751 53,751
2012 47,432 47,432
2010 51,712 51,712
2008 45,893 45,893

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Idaho Statutes, Title 34, Chapter 18, Section 34-1805 & SB 1108

Deadlines and time frame:

"Except as provided in section 34-1804, Idaho Code, petitions for an initiative shall be circulated and signatures obtained beginning upon the date that the petitioners receive the official ballot title from the secretary of state and extending eighteen (18) months from that date or April 30 of the year that an election on the initiative will be held, whichever occurs earlier. The last day for circulating petitions and obtaining signatures shall be the last day of April in the year an election on the initiative will be held...

The signatures required shall be submitted to the county clerk not later than the close of business on the first day of May in the year an election on the initiative will be held, or eighteen (18) months from the date the petitioner receives the official ballot title from the secretary of state, whichever is earlier.

The county clerk shall, within sixty (60) calendar days of the deadline for the submission of the signatures, verify the signatures contained in the petitions, but in no event shall the time extend beyond the last day of June in the year an election on the initiative will be held."[3]

  • "Initiative petitions with the requisite number of signatures attached shall be filed with the secretary of state not less than four (4) months before the election at which they are to be voted upon."[3]
  • "Referendum petitions with the requisite number of signatures attached shall be filed with the secretary of state not more than sixty (60) days after the final adjournment of the session of the state legislature which passed on the bill on which the referendum is demanded. All elections on measures referred to the people of the state shall be had at the biennial regular election. Any measure so referred to the people shall take effect and become a law when it is approved by a majority of the votes cast thereon, and not otherwise."[4]

Appeal of a refused petition:

"If the secretary of state shall refuse to accept and file any petition for the initiative or for the referendum with the requisite number of signatures of qualified electors thereto attached, any citizen may apply, within ten (10) days after such refusal to the district court for a writ of mandamus to compel him to do so. If it shall be decided by the court that such petition is legally sufficient, the secretary of state shall then file it, with a certified copy of the judgment attached thereto, as of the date on which it was originally offered for filing in his office."

On a showing that any petition filed is not legally sufficient, the court may enjoin the secretary of state and all other officers from certifying or printing on the official ballot for the ensuing election the ballot title and numbers of such measure. All such suits shall be advanced on the court docket and heard and decided by the court as quickly as possible. Either party may appeal to the Supreme Court within ten (10) days after a decision is rendered."[5]

Recall

"The following public officers, whether holding their elective office by election or appointment, and none other, are subject to recall:

State officers:

  • The governor, lieutenant-governor, secretary of state, state controller, state treasurer, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction;
  • Members of the state senate, and members of the state house of representatives.

County officers:

  • The members of the board of county commissioners, sheriff, treasurer, assessor, prosecuting attorney, clerk of the district court, and coroner.

City officers:

  • The mayor
  • Members of the city council.

Special district elected officers for whom recall procedure is not otherwise provided by law."[6]

Initial filing:

"Before or at the time of beginning to circulate any petition for the recall of any officer subject to recall, the person or persons, organization or organizations under whose authority the recall petition is to be circulated, shall send or deliver to the secretary of state, county clerk, or city clerk, as the case may be, a copy of a prospective petition duly signed by at least twenty (20) electors eligible to sign such petition. The receiving officer shall immediately examine the petition and specify the form and kind and size of paper on which the petition shall be printed and circulated for further signatures."[7]

Petition format:

"All petitions and signature sheets for recall shall be printed on a good quality bond or ledger paper of standardized size in substantial conformance within the provisions of section 34-1703, Idaho Code. To every sheet of petitioners' signatures shall be attached a full and correct copy of the recall petition."[7]

Signature requirements:

"A petition for recall of an officer shall be instituted by filing with the appropriate official a verified written petition requesting such recall... The petition shall be filed with the secretary of state, and must be signed by registered electors equal in number to twenty percent (20%) of the number of electors registered to vote at the last general election held to elect a governor."[8]

"If the district of officer to be recalled is located in two (2) or more counties, the clerk in each county shall perform the functions within that county. The petition must be signed by registered electors of the district equal in number to fifty percent (50%) of the number of electors who cast votes in the last election of the district. If no district election has been held in the last six (6) years, the petition must be signed by twenty percent (20%) of the number of electors registered to vote in the district at the time the petition is filed."[8]

See also: Idaho signature requirements for current actual totals.

Circulation time frame:

"Upon approval as to form, the secretary of state, county clerk, or city clerk, shall inform the person or persons, organization or organizations under whose authority the recall petition is to be circulated, in writing, that the petition must be perfected with the required number of certified signatures within seventy-five (75) days following the date of approval as to form. Signatures on the prospective petition shall not be counted toward the required number of certified signatures. Any petition that has not been perfected with the required number of certified signatures within the seventy-five (75) days allowed shall be declared null and void ab initio in its entirety."[7]

Notifying the recalled official:

"In the event that a petition filed with the secretary of state is found by the secretary of state to contain the required number of certified signatures, the secretary of state shall promptly, by certified mail, inform the officer being recalled, and the petitioner, that the recall petition is in proper form.

If the officer being recalled resigns his office within five (5) business days after notice from the secretary of state, his resignation shall be accepted and the resignation shall take effect on the day it is offered, and the vacancy shall be filled as provided by law.

If the officer being recalled does not resign his office within five (5) business days after notice from the secretary of state, a special election shall be ordered by the secretary of state, unless he is the officer being recalled, in which event the governor shall order such special election."[9]

Recall restrictions:

"No petition for a recall shall be circulated against any officer until he has actually held his office ninety (90) days. After one (1) special recall election, no further recall petition shall be filed against the same officer during his current term of office, unless the petitioners first pay into the public treasury which has paid such special recall election expenses the whole amount of the expenses for the preceding recall election."[10]

Petitioners must be identified

"The legislature of the state of Idaho finds that there have been incidents of fraudulent and misleading practices in soliciting and obtaining signatures on initiative or referendum petitions, or both, that false signatures have been placed upon initiative or referendum petitions, or both, that difficulties have arisen in determining the identity of petition circulators and that substantial danger exists that such unlawful practices will or may continue in the future. In order to prevent and deter such behavior, the legislature determines that it is necessary to provide easy identity to the public of those persons who solicit or obtain signatures on initiative or referendum petitions, or both, and of those persons for whom they are soliciting and obtaining signatures and to inform the public concerning the solicitation and obtaining of such signatures. It is the purpose of the legislature in enacting this act to fulfill the foregoing statement of intent and remedy the foregoing practices."[11]

Recall election

"Initiative, referendum, and recall elections conducted by any political subdivision shall be held on the nearest date authorized in subsection (1) of this section which falls more than forty-five (45) days after the clerk of the political subdivision orders that such initiative, referendum or recall election shall be held."[12]

Proposed changes

2011

Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

No laws have been proposed in 2011.

2010

Changes in 2010 to laws governing ballot measures

There were no laws introduced during the 2009-2010 session of the Idaho Legislature.

Campaign finance

Main article: Campaign finance requirements for Idaho ballot measures

Some of the notable features of Idaho's campaign finance law include:

  • Idaho treats groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure the same like other political committees.
  • Idaho requires the certification of a campaign treasurer before any political committee registered in support or opposition of a ballot measure can accept contributions.
  • The campaign treasurer for a registered political committee must be a resident of the State of Idaho.
  • Idaho bans labor unions from making donations to political committees in support or opposition of a ballot measure as a condition of union membership.
  • Idaho requires urgent disclosure of all campaign contributions of $1,000 or more in the last sixteen days of the election within 48 hours of receiving a contribution.

See also

References