Laws governing the initiative process in Wyoming

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Ballot law
BallotLaw final.png
State laws
Initiative law
Recall law
Statutory changes
Ballot Law Update
Current edition
Court cases
Lawsuit news
Ballot access rulings
Recent court cases
Petitioner access
Ballot title challenges
Superseding initiatives
Signature challenges
Local ballot measure laws
1 Laws and procedures
1.1 Crafting an initiative
1.1.1 Single-subject rule
1.1.2 Subject restrictions
1.1.3 Competing initiatives
1.2 Starting a petition
1.2.1 Applying to petition
1.2.2 Proposal review/approval
1.2.3 Fiscal review
1.2.4 Petition summary
1.3 Collecting signatures
1.3.1 Number required
1.3.2 Distribution requirements
1.3.3 Restrictions on circulators
1.3.4 Electronic signatures
1.3.5 Deadlines for collection
1.4 Getting on the ballot
1.4.1 Signature verification
1.4.2 Ballot title and summary
1.5 The election and beyond
1.5.1 Supermajority requirements
1.5.2 Effective date
1.5.3 Litigation
1.5.4 Legislative tampering
1.5.5 Re-attempting an initiative
1.6 Funding an initiative campaign
1.7 State initiative law
2 Changes in the law

Citizens of Wyoming may initiate legislation as a state statute. Although the state does not provide for indirect initiatives, legislators may avert a ballot measure vote by passing substantially similar legislation. In Wyoming, citizens also have the power to repeal legislation via veto referendum. Citizens may not initiate constitutional amendments. The Wyoming State Legislature, however, may place legislatively-referred constitutional amendments on the ballot with a two-thirds majority vote of each chamber.

Crafting an initiative

Of the 24 states that allow citizens to initiate legislation through the petition process, several states have adopted restrictions and regulations that limit the scope and content of proposed initiatives. These regulations may include laws that mandate that initiatives address only one topic, restrict the range of acceptable topics for proposed laws, prohibit unfunded mandates, and establish guidelines for adjudicating contradictory measures.

Single-subject rule

See also: Single-subject rule

In Wyoming, each proposed measure must address only one subject expressed in its title.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 24 & Section 52(g) ; Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Section 304 & Wyoming NARAL v. Karpan

Subject restrictions

See also: Subject restrictions (ballot measures)

In Wyoming, an initiated measure may not, "dedicate revenues, make or repeal appropriations, create courts, define the jurisdiction of courts or prescribe their rules, enact local or special legislation, enact anything prohibited by the constitution for enactment by the legislature, or enact anything that is substantially the same as that defeated by an initiative election within five (5) years preceding the time of filing of the petition."

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52(g) & Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Section 301

Competing initiatives

See also: Superseding initiative; "Poison pills"; List of Wyoming ballot measures

Wyoming law does not address conflicting ballot measures. The law does, however, prevent the initiative power to be used to enact anything that was defeated at an initiative election within the last 5 years.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52 & Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24

Starting a petition

Each initiative and referendum state employs a different procedure for filing petition applications. Some states require preliminary signatures while others do not. In addition, several states review each proposed statute, verifying that the law conforms to the style and conventions of state law and recommending alterations to initiative proponents. Some of these states also review the law for more substantive considerations of content and consistency. Also, many states conduct a review of the ballot title and summary, and several states employ a fiscal review process which analyzes proposed laws to determine their impact on state finances.[1][2][3]

Applying to petition

See also: Approved for circulation

Prior to circulation, proponents must submit the text of the measure and designate three registered Wyoming voters to represent the initiative campaign as sponsors. These three form the committee of applicants and represent initiative petitioners and sponsors. There is a $500 filing fee, which also applies for referendum petitions.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Sections 302 & 402

Proposal review/approval

See also: Approved for circulation

Along with the application, sponsors must submit a copy of the proposed law to the Secretary of State for review. The Secretary, Legislative Service Office, and other executive departments may collaborate in reviewing the law. Once their review is complete, the Secretary holds a conference with the sponsors to explain any suggested revisions. These recommendations are not binding.

Sponsors must submit a final version to the Secretary of State along with the Secretary's comments and the signatures of 100 additional registered voters within 30 days after submitting a proposed bill. After the conference, sponsors have 5 days to decide whether to amend their proposal.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Section 304(C)

Fiscal review

See also: Fiscal impact statement

If the Secretary of State believes that the measure will have a fiscal impact on the state, a fiscal impact statement is also prepared during the review process. The estimate does not consider local finances and may be modified if sponsors provide evidence convincing the Secretary that the estimate is in error. However, if in their final estimates the Secretary and sponsors remain more than $25,000 apart, both estimates must be reflected on the ballot as a range.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Section 309

Petition summary

See also: Ballot measure summary statement

Once the final application has been submitted and accepted. The Secretary of State prepares the petition form, drafting an impartial summary of the initiative and including the fiscal impact estimate. This summary, along with the text of the measure, is included on the petition form. Copies of the petition are also prepared by the Secretary at the sponsor's expense. The petition also must include the following statement if the circulator responsible for the petition sheet is to be paid: "This circulator is being paid to solicit signatures for this ballot proposition."

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Section 310

Collecting signatures

Each initiative and referendum state employs a unique method of calculating the state's signature requirements. Some states mandate a certain fraction of registered voters while others base their calculation on those who actually voted in a preceding election. In addition, many states employ a distribution requirement, dictating where in the state these signatures must be collected. Beyond these overarching requirements, many states regulate the manner in which signatures may be collected and the timeline for collecting them.

Number required

See also: Wyoming signature requirements

The signature requirement in Wyoming is based on the number of votes cast in the state's most recent general election--held every two years. However, in most I&R states, the number of signatures required is based on gubernatorial elections--almost always held every four years. As a result of Wyoming's atypical system, the number of signatures changes significantly every two years due to the fact that voter turnout for presidential elections is generally much higher than in mid-term elections.

More specifically, initiated state statutes and veto referendums require signatures equal to 15 percent of the total ballots cast in the previous general election. This is the highest signature requirement of any state, even considering requirements for initiating constitutional amendments. Citizen-initiated amendments are not allowed in Wyoming.

 Year  Votes cast in most recent general election Initiated statute Veto referendum
2016 171,153 (2014 election) 25,673 25,673
2015 171,153 (2014 election) 25,673 25,673
2014 250,701 (2012 election) 37,606 37,606
2013 250,701 (2012 election) 37,606 37,606
2012 190,822 (2010 election) 28,623 28,623
2011 190,822 (2010 election) 28,623 28,623
2010 256,035 (2008 election) 38,406 38,406
2009 256,035 (2008 election) 38,406 38,406
2008 196,217 (2006 election) 29,433 29,433
2007 196,217 (2006 election) 29,433 29,433
2006 245,789 (2004 election) 36,899 36,899
2005 245,789 (2004 election) 36,899 36,899
2004 188,028 (2012 election) 28,204 28,204
2003 188,028 (2012 election) 28,204 28,204

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52(c)

Distribution requirements

See also: Distribution requirements

In Wyoming, signatures equal to 15 percent of the total number of voters in the preceding general election must be collected in each of 2/3 of the state's 23 counties. This requirement was established by Wyoming Amendment B in 1998. In 2008, another amendment, also called Amendment B, tried unsuccessfully to change the basis of this requirement to Wyoming State Senate districts.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52(c)

Restrictions on circulators

Circulator requirements

See also: Petition circulator

In Wyoming, circulators are permitted to sign the petition that they are circulating.[4] Each initiative petition contains a mandatory circulator affidavit. According to Wyoming Statute 22-24-315, a circulator is not required to sign these affidavits before a public notary, however he/she must swear to and sign a statement, under the penalty of law, that he/she personally witnessed every act of signing the petition. Petitions can only be circulated by one of the original 100 sponsors or a individual designated and registered by the petition committee. Such designated circulators must be at least 18 years old and be U.S. Citizens. They need not be residents of the state.[5]

Once circulation is completed, the signatures are submitted to the secretary of state in accordance with Wyoming Statute 22-24-315.[5]

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes 22-24-306, 22-24-312 & 22-24-315


See also: Wyoming Senate File 49 (2015) & Pay-per-signature

Wyoming law does not prohibit paying circulators by the signature for initiative petitions. Senate File 49, approved in 2015, removed the pay-per-signature requirement for initiative petition circulators. The prohibition remained, however, for referendum signature petitions. In Wyoming, all circulators must be registered with the state by one of the original three sponsors who form the committee of applicants. Moreover, they must have their names, addresses, and eligibility requirements verified, under oath, by their designating sponsor.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Sections 323 & 420

Out-of-state circulators

See also: Residency requirements for petition circulators & Wyoming Senate File 49 (2015)

Wyoming does not require circulators to be a resident of Wyoming. Circulators must, however, be U.S. Citizens.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Section 306

Badge requirements

See also: Badge requirements

Wyoming requires that any petition circulated by a paid signature gatherer bear the following notice on each page in large, red letters: "This circulator is being paid to solicit signatures for this ballot proposition." In addition, Wyoming law requires the notice to be "prominently displayed and made visible to the petition signer by the circulator."

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Section 310

Electronic signatures

See also: Electronic petition signatures

Since electronic signatures are an emerging technology, the constitutionality of bans on e-signatures and the legality of e-signatures in states without bans is largely untested. In Wyoming, petition sheets are prepared by the state and must be circulated in person.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Sections 312 and 409

Deadlines for collection

See also: Petition drive deadlines; Circulation period

Citizen initiatives:

As soon as petition sponsors have received the petition form from the state, they have 18 months to collect signatures and file their petitions. If sufficient signatures have been gathered, the measure is presented to voters at the next general election after a legislative session has convened and adjourned.

Veto referendum:

Sponsors of veto referendums have 90 days after the adjournment of the legislative session in which the targeted law was passed to circulate petitions.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Sections 315 & 406

Getting on the ballot

Once signatures have been collected, state officials must verify that requirements are met and that fraudulent signatures are excluded. States generally employ a random sample process or a full verification of signatures. After verification, the issue must be prepared for the ballot. This often involves preparing a fiscal review and ballot summary.

Signature verification

See also: Signature certification

In Wyoming, petitioners must file their completed petition with the Secretary of State, who counts and verifies each signature.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Sections 316 & 413

Ballot title and summary

See also: Ballot title

Once a petition has been found sufficient, the ballot language of the proposition is prepared. The summary and fiscal impact statements prepared upon initial filing are included in this language. Each measure also receives a generic title (Constitutional Amendment A, Constitutional Amendment B...).

If the measure concerns the investment of permanent state funds, the Wyoming Treasurer must prepare an estimate of the impact of the measure on state revenue. Like the earlier statement, if in their final estimates the Treasurer and sponsors are more than $25,000 apart, the range of estimates must be reflected in the estimate.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Sections 317

The election and beyond

Ballot measures face additional challenges beyond qualifying for the ballot and receiving a majority of the vote. Several states require ballot measures to get more than a simple majority. While some states mandate a three-fifths supermajority, other states set the margin differently. In addition, ballot measures may face legal challenge or modification by legislators. If a ballot measure does fail, some states limit how soon that initiative can be re-attempted.

Supermajority requirements

See also: Supermajority requirements

All Wyoming measures require affirmative votes from a majority of those casting a ballot in the general election--not just of those casting a vote on the measure. This also applies to legislatively-referred constitutional amendments.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52(f)

Effective date

In Wyoming, approved measures take effect 90 days after the official certification of results by the Secretary of State.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52(f)


See also: Ballot measure lawsuit news

Any challenge to official decisions made during the initiative process may be brought in the District Court of Laramie County. Circulator residency challenges should be filed in the circuit court or district court of the county where the circulator was gathering signatures.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Statutes, Title 22, Chapter 24, Sections 312 & 409

Legislative tampering

See also: Legislative tampering

The Wyoming State Legislature may not repeal an approved measure for two years after it takes effect. It may be amended at any time by a simple majority vote.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52(f)

Re-attempting an initiative

Once a measure has been defeated at the ballot box, no measure "substantially the same" as the one defeated may be filed for verification within five years.

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Wyoming Constitution, Article 3, Section 52(d)

Funding an initiative campaign

See also: Campaign finance requirements for Wyoming ballot measures

Some of the notable features of Wyoming's campaign finance laws include:

  • Wyoming treats groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure the same as other political action committees.
  • Wyoming allows groups in support or opposition of a ballot measure to communicate its stance on behalf of a candidate or a state/local party organization.
  • Individual contributors are limited to $25,000 over a two year period, while corporations, labor unions, party organizations, and other PAC's have no limits.
  • Wyoming allows corporations and labor unions to donate to Political Action Committees in support or opposition of a ballot measure.
  • Wyoming requires the first campaign finance report to be filed within 10 days of qualifying a ballot measure.
  • Wyoming bans advertising agencies from charging more than the fair market value for placing advertisements.

State initiative law

Article 3 of the Wyoming Constitution addresses initiatives.

Title 22, Chapter 24 of the Wyoming Statutes governs initiatives.

Note: Title 22, Chapter 24, was changed in 2015 by Senate File 49, which, effective immediately, repealed sections 101-125, replacing them with sections 301-323 and 401-420.

External links


1 Laws and procedures
2 Changes in the law
2.1 Proposed changes by year
2.1.1 2012
2.1.2 2011
2.1.3 2010

The following laws have been proposed which modify ballot measure law in Wyoming.

Proposed changes by year


See also: Changes in 2015 to laws governing ballot measures
See also: Laws governing ballot measures in Wyoming
  1. Approveda Wyoming Senate File 49: "An act relating to initiatives and referendums; repealing prior initiative and referendum provisions; creating separate initiative and referendum provisions; revising initiative and referendum procedures and language; removing restrictions on circulator qualifications and pay as specified; and providing for an effective date." This bill repealed the state's current laws governing the initiative process and replaced them with revised provisions. Notably, the bill removed state residency requirements and a prohibition against paying initiative signature gatherers based on the number of signatures collected. The prohibition against pay-per-signature circulators remained for referendum petitions.[1]
  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Wyoming


See also: Changes in 2014 to laws governing ballot measures


See also: Changes in 2013 to laws governing ballot measures


See also: Changes in 2012 to laws governing ballot measures


See also: Changes in 2011 to laws governing ballot measures

No proposed changes were identified in 2011.


See also: Changes in 2010 to laws governing the initiative process

The following bills were introduced in the Wyoming Legislature:

Defeatedd HB 115: Allowing voters via petition to ask for specific excise taxes to be placed on the ballot for voter approval. The bill was approved by the Wyoming House of Representatives by a 33-24 vote on February 24, 2010, but died in Senate committee[1].