Step One - Filing Prospective Petition
The first step in referring an initiative petition to a vote of the people is to file a prospective petition with the City Elections Officer, located in the Office of the City Auditor. A prospective petition shall consist of:
- SEL 370, prospective petition designating not more than 3 chief petitioners
- SEL 301, statement whether circulators will be paid
- Complete text of the proposed charter change or ordinance to be initiated (legislation). It is recommended that petitioners consult legal assistance in drafting legislation according to legal specifications. The City Elections Officer can provide guidance regarding the formatting of the legislation, not content. Please see Appendix F pf the City Initiative Petition Information Packet for more information regarding format requirements of legislation.
- Optional: petitioners may also submit a draft ballot title, including caption, question and explanation. The City Attorney will prepare the final ballot title.
All forms required for the prospective petition are included in Appendix B of the City Initiative Petition Information Packet .
On the SEL 370 (and later on the final signature sheet forms SEL 371 and 373), petitioners must specify the election date for which their initiative is intended. This date must be a biennial statewide primary or general election within two years and four months of the filing of the prospective petition.
Please Note: City Code Section 2.04.040 requires that chief petitioners be registered voters in the City of Portland.
Step Two - Procedural Requirements
No later than five business days after receiving the prospective petition, the City Elections Officer reviews the text of the proposed legislation to determine whether it complies with the procedural constitutional requirements. After the review, the City Elections Officer notifies the chief petitioners of the determination.
If the text of the proposed legislation does not comply with the procedural constitutional requirements, the City Elections Officer notifies the chief petitioners by certified mail (with return receipt requested). This notice must be mailed no later than the sixth business day after the prospective initiative petition is filed.
If the text of the proposed legislation complies with the procedural constitutional requirements, the City Elections Officer notifies the chief petitioners in writing no later than the sixth business day after the prospective initiative petition is filed and forwards the petition to the City Attorney for preparation of the ballot title.
Step Three - Preparation of Ballot Title
If the City Elections Officer determines that the prospective petition meets the procedural constitutional requirements, the City Elections Officer forwards two copies of the petition to the City Attorney for preparation of the ballot title no later than the sixth business day after the prospective petition is filed.
The City Attorney has five business days to prepare a ballot title and return it to the City Elections Officer. Oregon law requires that the ballot title contain all of the following elements:
- Caption: not to exceed 10 words; must reasonably identify the subject of the prospective initiative petition.
- Question: not to exceed 20 words; must plainly phrase the chief purpose of the prospective initiative so that an affirmative response corresponds to a yes vote on the ballot; and
- Summary: not to exceed 175 words; shall be concise and impartial and summarize the measure and its major effect.
Step Four - Publication of Notice of Receipt of Ballot Title
Upon receipt of the ballot title from the City Attorney, the Auditor immediately provides the chief petitioner with a copy of the ballot title. The Auditor also publishes a notice of receipt of the ballot title in the next available edition of the Oregonian. The notice must include:
- a statement that the petition meets the procedural constitutional requirements,
- a notice than an elector may file a petition to review the ballot title,
- the deadline for filing a petition to review the ballot title with the Circuit Court and
- the ballot title provided by the City Attorney or information on how to obtain a copy of the ballot title.
Any elector who is dissatisfied with the ballot title may petition the Circuit Court to review the ballot title issued by the City Attorney. The deadline to file a petition to review the ballot title is no later than the 7th business day after the City Elections Officer received the ballot title from the City Attorney.
Step Five - Challenge Period
As detailed in Step Four, any elector who is dissatisfied with the ballot title may petition the Circuit Court to review the ballot title issued by the City Attorney. The petition must name the City Attorney as the respondent. The petition must also state the reasons the title filed with the court is insufficient, not concise or unfair. The deadline to file a petition to review the ballot title is no later than the 7th business day after the City Elections Officer received the ballot title from the City Attorney.
If an elector files a petition to review a ballot title within the Circuit Court, the elector must also notify the city elections official in writing that the petition has been filed.
! WARNING - If this notice to the City Elections Officer is not timely filed, the petition to the Circuit Court will be dismissed.
After a petition to review a ballot title is filed, the Circuit Court conducts its review. The review of the ballot title by the Circuit Court shall be the first and final review.
After reviewing the ballot title, the Circuit Court renders its decision and certifies a ballot title meeting the requirements of ORS 250.035 to the City Elections Officer.
The City Elections Officer must not approve the cover and signature sheets for circulation until after the challenge period for the ballot title, or, if the ballot title is challenged, after the Circuit Court order is received by the City Elections Officer.
Step Six - Preparation of Cover & Signature Sheets
After receiving the final ballot title, the chief petitioners may begin the cover and signature sheet approval process.
The text, cover, and signature sheets for a prospective initiative petition must be approved in writing by the City Elections Officer before the chief petitioners may begin circulating the petition.
The chief petitioners must comply with specific detailed requirements when preparing their cover and signature sheets. Failure to comply with the requirements in Appendix C of the City Initiative Petition Information Packet will delay the receipt of written approval to circulate.
After preparing the cover and signature sheets for the prospective initiative petition, the chief petitioners submit a draft to the City Elections Officer for review. If the text of the prospective initiative is not printed on the cover sheet, a complete copy of the text must also be submitted with the draft cover and signature sheets. If cover and signature sheets are submitted for approval by someone other than a chief petitioner, all of the chief petitioners must file written consent with the city elections official before the initial review of the cover and signature sheets.
See Appendix C of the City Initiative Petition Information Packet for Guidelines for Circulating Petitions.
After receiving the text, cover and signature sheets from the chief petitioners, the City Elections Officer reviews the sheets for compliance with the requirements for prospective city initiative petitions. The City Elections Officer reviews the text of the initiative petition to ensure that the text reads exactly the same and is formatted the same as the text submitted with the prospective petition. The City Elections Officer also review the cover and signature sheets for compliance with the city petition requirements.
All local chief petitioners are required to file a Statement of Organization for Chief Petitioners (SEL 222) with the Secretary of State, Elections Division, before signature sheets can be approved by the local elections official. In addition, all local chief petitioners must disclose all contribution and expenditure transactions electronically with the Secretary of State, Elections Division.
The City Elections Officer prepares and mails a written notice to the chief petitioners detailing any corrections which must be made to the text, cover or signature sheets before they can be approved for circulation.
Once the text, cover and signature sheets meet all of the requirements, the city elections official notifies the chief petitioners in writing of approval to circulate the initiative petition.
Step Seven - Circulation
Once the chief petitioners receive written approval of the cover and signature sheets from the City Elections Officer, the chief petitioners may collect signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot. Signature requirements and filing deadlines are included in Appendix D of this packet. A petition cannot be accepted unless it contains 100% of the required number of signatures. Signatures must be submitted no less than four months before the intended election date.
If the chief petitioners intend to mail cover and signature sheets to prospective signers, the text must be included with each mailing.
If at any time after receiving approval to circulate the residence address of any chief petitioner changes, new cover and signature sheets with the correct address must be included with each mailing.
Before collecting signatures, chief petitioners must review with circulators the legal requirements and guidelines for circulating an initiative, listed in Appendix E of the City Initiative Petition Information Packet. Failure to comply with the legal requirements and guidelines will result in rejection of those sheets.
After reviewing the legal requirements and guidelines for circulating an initiative, the chief petitioners and circulators may circulate the petition.
- Each person collecting signatures must carry at least one full and correct copy of the text of the initiative and must allow any person to review the text upon request.
- Each signature collected must be personally witnessed by the circulator. The circulator must sign and date the certification at the bottom of the petition sheet after all the signatures on the sheet have been collected.
- The circulator must complete the date when the certification is signed and should not collect any other signatures on that sheet.
For instructions on certifying new signatures to a petition sheet that has already been certified and dated by a circulator, see Oregon Administrative Rule 165-014-0270 (4) (d) in Appendix E of the City Initiative Petition Information Packet.
- Circulators must not attempt to obtain signatures of persons knowing that the person signing the petition is not qualified to sign it.
- Circulators must not offer money or any thing of value to another person to sign or not sign a petition, nor may they sell or offer to sell signature sheets.
- Circulators mustnot accept compensation to circulate a petition that is based on the number of signatures obtained.
! WARNING - Violations of the circulator requirements may result in conviction of a felony with a fine of up to $125,000 and/or prison for up to 5 years.
Step Eight - Signature Submission
Petitioners must submit their petitions with the required number of signatures (listed in Appendix D of the City Initiative Petition Information Packet) no less than four months before the election date specified on the petition. Failure to meet this deadline will render the petition void.
Once the chief petitioners have collected at least the required number of signatures, they may submit the signature sheets to the City Elections Officer.
Chief petitioners must also submit a new SEL 301, marked completed and signed by all current chief petitioners at the time signatures are submitted for verification.
If signatures are submitted and signature verification shows that the petition did not qualify, the chief petitioners may submit additional signatures for verification, as long as the additional signatures are submitted prior to the signature deadline (4 months before the intended election date)
Only the chief petitioners may submit signature sheets for verification. Signature sheets will not be accepted from circulators, agents, circulator companies, or any other entity.
Before submitting the signature sheets for verification, the chief petitioners must:
- Sort signature sheets into separate stacks by county; and
- Number each stack of sorted signature sheets beginning with the number 1 for each county and continue numbering sequentially until all sheets for that county have been numbered.
!WARNING - It is the responsibility of the chief petitioners to ensure that the signature sheets are numbered sequentially before filing the petition signatures for verification. Failure to comply with this requirement will result in rejection of those sheets not filed in accordance with Oregon Administrative Rule 165-014-0110.
The chief petitioners submit sorted and numbered signature sheets for verification with the City Elections Officer. The initiative must contain at least the required number of signatures.
When submitting signature sheets, the chief petitioners must include a letter stating how many signatures they purport to have.
The chief petitioners must file a detailed contribution and expenditure report no later than 5:00 p.m. on the 15th day after submitting 100 percent of the required number of signatures to place the initiative on the ballot. The accounting period for this report begins on the date the prospective petition was filed and ends on the day the initiative was submitted for final signature verification. Refer to the 2006 Campaign Finance Manual (published by the Secretary of State and included in Appendix G by reference) for detailed instructions.
Withdrawing an Initiative - Chief petitioners may withdraw their initiative prior to submitting the petition signature sheets for verification by filnig a SEL 375 Withdrawal of Initiative Petition form. The chief petitioners may not re-activate the withdrawn petition.
Step Nine - Signature Verification
After receiving the signature sheets from the chief petitioners, the City Elections Officer begins verifying the signatures to determine if the initiative contains enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. City Code Section 2.04.090 requires the City Elections Officer to complete the verification process within 30 days after receipt of the petition and to advise the chief petitioner whether the petition qualifies to be submitted to the voters.
The City Elections Officer processes signature sheets submitted for verification by:
- comparing the submitted cover and signature sheets to the approved versions
- verifying that each signature sheet has a sufficient circulator certification
- verifying that each signature sheet has the approved cover sheet copied on the back and
- verifying the original signatures using the voter registration records.
The City Elections Officer arranges with the county elections officials for verification of signatures. The signature verification is done using the statistical sampling method provided by the Secretary of State, as required by ORS and City Code.
Step Ten - Opportunity for Competing Measure
In accordance with City Code Section 2.04.100, the City Elections Officer files qualified initiative petitions with the City Council for discussion, adoption or rejection. Council has 30 days to consider the petition. If Council adopts the measure, it will become law without appearing on the ballot. If Council rejects it, it will be referred to the voters. As required by law, the City Charter can only be amended by a vote of the people and must be referred to the voters.
The City Council may also chose to refer a competing measure to the voters.
Step Eleven - Placement on Ballot
If Council does not adopt the measure, the City Elections Officer certifies the measure to the County Elections Official for placement on the intended election ballot. The County Elections Official assigns a measure number. If the measure is approved by voters, it becomes law.