Ballot Initiative and Referendum Processes
Legal > Ballot Initiative and Referendum

Ballot Initiative and Referendum Processes

As outlined in Ohio Revised Code (ORC) Chapter 3519

The powers of initiative and referendum are reserved for the people of Ohio under Article 2, Section 1 of the Ohio Constitution, enabling citizens to place an issue directly before voters on a statewide ballot.  Citizens who wish to put a statewide issue on the ballot may do so through one of the following three methods:

  1. Initiated constitutional amendment — ORC 3519.01(A)
    ‚ÄčTo amend or add an article or part of an article to the Ohio Constitution
  2. Initiated statute — ORC 3519.01(A)
    To add a statute to the Ohio Revised Code
  3. Referendum — ORC 3519.01(B)
    To repeal an existing law or section of law.  Note that any law passed by voters is not subject to referendum

Petitioners may begin any of these processes by first designating a committee of three to five people to serve as representatives of the petition and points of contact in all matters relating to the petition.  (ORC 3519.02).

Once the petitioners have drafted their proposed initiative and a summary of that initiative (constitutional amendments or statutes), or have drafted their proposed changes to an existing law and a summary of those changes (referendum), they must gather the signatures of at least 1,000 registered Ohio voters.  See the table on the Initiative and Referendum Signature Requirements page for more detailed information.

After the petitioners have met the signature requirement, they may submit their petition to the Attorney General's Office to conduct a "fair and truthful" determination of the summary and proposed law:

Constitutional Amendments and Initiated Statutes

If the petition is to initiate a constitutional amendment or statute, the full text of the initiative, the summary, and all signatures must be submitted to the Attorney General's Office.  The Attorney General has 10 calendar days to conduct an examination to determine if the summary is a fair and truthful representation of the proposed amendment or statute.  If the Attorney General determines the summary is fair and truthful, the Attorney General must certify the petition to the Ballot Board.  (ORC 3519.01(A)).

Referendum

If the petition is to repeal an existing law or section of law ("referendum"), the petitioners must submit the full text of the law including the proposed changes to that law, a summary of those changes, and all signatures to the Secretary of State's Office.  On the same day, or within one business day, a copy of the petition, measure, and summary must also be submitted to the Attorney General's Office.  The Attorney General then has 10 business days to conduct an examination to determine if the summary is a fair and truthful representation of the proposed changes to the law.  If the Attorney General determines the summary is fair and truthful, the Attorney General must certify the petition to the Secretary of State.  (ORC 3519.01(B)).

Obtaining the Attorney General's "fair and truthful" certification is the first step in the process of getting an initiative or referendum on the statewide ballot.  For more information about the initiative and referendum processes, please refer to the Ohio Revised Code, the Secretary of State's website, and the Initiative and Referendum FAQ

Please click here for a list of petitions submitted to the Ohio Attorney General's Office.