Initiative Process



Protecting the Initiative Process


Statewide initiatives are only put on the ballot in November of even-numbered years. They involve a lot of preliminary work and there are many time delays in the process.


Here are the basic steps:

  • People come together and identify a major law or constitutional amendment that ought to be put on the ballot. Generally, this should only be done because the legislature will not do it, the voters are willing to do it, and it is an important issue.

  • The proposed constitutional amendment or statute needs to be written very precisely as it cannot be changed once an initiative is started.

  • Chief petitioners (no more than three) who are Oregon voters come forward to start the initiative. Various documents are filed with the election division.

  • The chief petitioners need to gather at least 1,000 verified voter signatures on a start-up petition in order to begin a ballot title process. Otherwise, the initiative does not move forward.

  • Once 1,000 voter signatures are verified on start up petitions, the initiative is sent to the Attorney General for production of a ballot title. This process includes a draft ballot title, the opportunity for public comment, and a certified ballot title.

  • Anyone who comments on the draft ballot title, and who is not satisfied that the certified ballot title meets the requirements of law, can petition for review by the Supreme Court.

  • After the matter is fully briefed, the Supreme Court issues a decision on the ballot title and the ballot title is either modified or left alone.

  • Once a ballot title is finally established, the chief petitioners can lead a petition drive to gather the necessary voter signatures to get the initiative on the ballot. Currently 88,184 verified signatures are necessary to get a statute on the ballot and 117,578 verified signatures are necessary to get a constitutional amendment on the ballot. The signature deadline is in the first week of July of the election year.

  • Once enough signatures are verified for the measure to go on the ballot there are additional steps concerning an explanatory statement, fiscal impact statement etc.


Overall, this is a complicated and time-consuming process. However, the result can mean major reform for Oregon government.