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Pay-per-signature is one way of compensating signature-gatherers who collect signatures to qualify candidates or ballot initiatives or recall elections for the ballot.

Several states have made it illegal to compensate petition circulators based on how many signatures they are able to collect on petitions. It is an active area of litigation.

State legislation

Alaska Republicans attempt ban

Alaska State Representatives Kyle Johansen (R-Ketchikan) and Charisse Millett (R-Anchorage) have introduced HB 36 in 2009 to make it illegal for initiative circulators to be paid on a per-signature basis. It would also make it illegal for initiative circulators to circulate more than one initiative at once.[1]

Arizona legislature may ban

The Arizona Reform the Initiative Process Amendment (2010) has been proposed as a reform of Arizona's laws. One of its provisions if enacted would ban signature-gatherers from getting paid by signature or page.

California, proposed ban

California Senate Bill 24 (2009) would make it illegal to pay circulators in California based on how many signatures they collect.[2],[3]

Colorado 2009 ban

Gov. Bill Ritter signed Colorado House Bill 1326 (2009) on May 29, 2009. It forbids compensating circulators based on how many signatures they collect.

Oregon 2002 ban

In 2002, Oregon Ballot Measure 26 was approved by popular vote. It forbid initiative sponsors from paying petitioners on a per-signature basis. This ban on pay-per-signature was upheld in Prete v. Bradbury, a ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court. Oregon Constitutional Article IV §1b reads:

"It shall be unlawful to pay or receive money or other thing of value based on the number of signatures obtained on an initiative or referendum petition. Nothing herein prohibits payment for signature gathering which is not based, either directly or indirectly, on the number of signatures obtained."[4]


Prete v. Bradbury

Main article Prete v. Bradbury

Prete v. Bradbury is a lawsuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of Oregon against Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury challenging Oregon's restrictions on paying petition circulators by the signature.

The outcome of the lawsuit was that U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aiken, a Clinton appointee, upheld Oregon's ban on pay-per-signature on February 11, 2004.[5] The ban was one of the provisions of Oregon Ballot Measure 26.

Other lawsuits


  1. Alaska anti-initiative bill, January 19, 2009
  2. Ballot Access News, "California Legislative Hearing on Bill to Ban Paying Circulators Per Signature", July 6, 2009
  3. Text of SB 34
  4. Pay Per Signatures Blog
  5. More lawsuit news Ballot Access News, March 1, 2004