Make or Change State Law

Statewide Initiatives, Referendums and Referrals

The initiative and referendum processes allow people to propose laws or amendments to the state Constitution, or adopt or reject a bill passed by the Oregon Legislature.

If chief petitioners gather and submit the required number of signatures, the initiative or referendum is placed on the ballot for voters to adopt or reject.

Placing a Statewide Initiative on the Ballot

To qualify an initiative for the next regularly scheduled general election, chief petitioners begin by filing the following form with the Elections Division:

SEL310: Prospective Petition for State Measure

After chief petitioners gather and submit 1,000 sponsorship signatures, the Elections Division forwards the text of the prospective petition to the attorney general for the drafting of a ballot title, which impartially summarizes the petition and its major effect.

Initiatives: Signature Gathering

Chief petitioners may begin gathering signatures once the ballot title process is complete, they have received written approval to circulate, and have reviewed with circulators the legal requirements and guidelines for circulating an initiative petition.

Initiatives: Signature Verification

Signatures must be submitted to the Elections Division for verification no later than four months prior to the date of the next regularly scheduled general election. The Elections Division places the measure on the ballot if signature verification shows the petition contains the required number of signatures.

The number of valid signatures required to qualify an initiative for the ballot is based on a percentage of the total votes cast for governor at the last election:

  • For a constitutional initiative, 8% (117,578) of valid signatures is required.
  • For a statutory initiative, 6% (88,184) of valid signatures is required.

Filing a Statewide Referendum

A prospective referendum petition may only be filed when a nonemergency bill becomes an act. A bill becomes an act when it has either been signed into law by the governor or the deadline has passed for the bill to be signed or vetoed by the governor. A vetoed bill cannot be referred.

To qualify a referendum for the next regularly scheduled general election, chief petitioners begin by filing the following form with the Elections Division:

SEL31​0: Prospective Petition for State Measure

Referendums: Signature Gathering

Chief petitioners can begin gathering signatures after receiving written approval to circulate and reviewing with circulators the legal requirements and guidelines for circulating a referendum petition.

Instead of circulating with the final ballot title, which is only prepared if the referendum qualifies to the ballot, referendum petitions are circulated using the final measure summary from the act or last engrossed bill.

Referendums: Signature Verification

After gathering the required number of signatures, chief petitioners submit them to the Elections Division for verification, no later than 90 days after the Legislature adjourns sine die.

The Elections Division places the measure on the ballot if signature verification shows the petition contains the required number of signatures. The number of signatures required to qualify a referendum for the ballot is based on a percentage of the total votes cast for governor at the last election:

  • 4% (58,789) of valid signatures

Legislative Referrals

In addition to citizens placing a bill passed by the Legislature on the ballot using the referendum process, the Legislature may directly refer a measure to voters to adopt or reject.

Both houses of the Legislature must vote to refer the measure, and the referral cannot be vetoed by the governor.

Any change to the Oregon Constitution passed by the Legislature requires referral to voters.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

Resource List

Manuals

2016 State Initiative and Referendum Manual*

2016 Ca​mpaign Finance Manual

2016 Circulator Training

* Failure to follow instructions in the manual may invalidate the petition or delay receiving written approval to circulate.​

Forms

SEL222: Statement of Organization for Petition Committee

SEL223: Campaign Account Information

SEL307: Agent Authorization Form

SEL375: Withdrawal of Initiative or Referendum Petition

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Citizen Engagement

Follow the path of an idea until it arrives on the Governor's desk for approval.

Learn how ideas become law >​