Oregon is one of about half the states that has a robust direct democracy process
Editor's note: This is the second of a multi-part series on direct democracy in Oregon
Oregon is one of about half the states that has a robust direct democracy process. In that sense, we are lucky that we can change our Constitution, make and change laws and even veto acts of the Legislature -- known as a referendum.
The initiative process is described by the State Initiative and Referendum manual
and starts with an idea to create, amend or repeal an Oregon law or provision in the Oregon Constitution. To file
, a chief petitioner needs only have the text of the proposed initiative and between one and three chief petitioners. This form is filed with the Secretary of State and, after a cursory review for any legal problems, the petitioners are issued templates for the sponsorship phase.
Any initiative proposed to change the Oregon Constitution has enhanced requirements:
- It must contain a single subject or closely related subject
- It must include the full text
- It must be legislative rather than administrative in nature
"Templates" refers to electronic forms which, when printed out, become the signature sheets. The "sponsorship phase" refers to the initial period in which the petitioners will gather between 1,000 and 2,000 signatures to get the process started. The reason for this phase is to be able to show that there is sufficient support and energy behind the effort to engage further. During the sponsorship phase, it is required that the text of the measure physically accompany the signature sheets. If there is a small amount of text, the Secretary of State will determine that it can be printed on the back side of the petition. For larger amounts of text, they need to be stapled to each copy.
Once the Secretary of State has validated over 1,000 signatures -- they have 10 business days to complete this -- they turn the text over to the Attorney General who five business days to draft and file ballot title that "impartially summarizes the petition and its major effect." A ballot title is not just a headline. It contains four parts and the wording is vital to the success or failure of each petition.
- A caption that does not exceed 15 words describing the subject of the petition
- A statement that does not exceed 25 words describing the result if the petition is passed
- A statement that does not exceed 25 words describing the result if the petition is rejected
- A summary that does not exceed 125 words describing the major effect of the petition
At this time any registered voter may submit written comments on the legal sufficiency of the draft ballot title. After the
deadline to submit comments, the Secretary of State's Elections Division will forward any comments received to the Attorney General for consideration when certifying the ballot title. Note that these comments should be on the legality of the process, not the content of the initiative. By submitting comments, this gives the commenter standing if the title is appealed to the Oregon Supreme Court -- which it often is.
Out of this process comes the certified ballot title, which will be printed on the back of the signature sheets which will be circulated. Statewide initiatives are only voted on in the general election in even-numbered years but, while an initiative can be filed for any future even-numbered year, chief petitioners are only allowed to circulate for a two-year period prior to the signature turn in date in July of an even-numbered year.
The number of signatures needed is a function of a percent of the vote in the last regular gubernatorial election.
|Constitutional Initiative||(8%) 149,360|
|Statutory Initiative||(6%) 112,020|
|Post Date: 2021-08-14 10:27:40||Last Update: 2021-08-14 10:28:42|