Citizen-Initiated Constitutional Amendment

If a citizen feels that an issue is not addressed properly (or at all) in the Ohio Constitution, he or she can follow the procedures outlined in the Ohio Constitution and Revised Code (below) to submit a proposed constitutional amendment to the people of Ohio for a statewide vote.

Please note: This procedural outline is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as the sole source of information. Petitioners must comply with all applicable sections of the Ohio Constitution and the Ohio Revised Code.

Petitioners are encouraged to consult legal counsel.

RequirementActionAuthority
Create Petitioners' Committee

Petitioners must designate a committee of three to five individuals to represent them in all matters relating to the petition.

Ohio Revised Code Section: 3519.02

File Initial Petition With Ohio Attorney General
  1. An initial written petition, signed by 1,000 Ohio qualified electors, must be submitted to the Attorney General with the full text and summary of the proposed constitutional amendment.
  2. Once the petition is received, the Attorney General will certify if he or she believes the summary to be a fair and truthful statement of the proposed constitutional amendment.
  3. Once the statement on the petition is certified, the Attorney General will forward the petition to the Ohio Ballot Board which will evaluate the petition to ensure that it contains only one constitutional amendment. The Ballot Board has 10 days from the date it receives the petition from the Attorney General to complete this task.
  4. After the Ballot Board has certified the petition, a verified copy of the proposed constitutional amendment, together with its summary and the Attorney General’s certification must then be filed with the Secretary of State by the Attorney General. The petitioners may then begin to collect signatures for their initiated constitutional amendment.

Ohio Revised Code Sections: 3501.05;
3505.062;
3519.01;
3519.05

Create Petitions and Gather Signatures
  1. In order to begin gathering signatures, the petitioners must create a petition. Each petition must have a copy of the title and full text of the proposed constitutional amendment and must have the following statement printed at the top: “INITIATIVE PETITION Amendment to the Constitution Proposed by Initiative Petition to be Submitted Directly to the Electors.”
  2. All signatures must be submitted as one document and at one time.
  3. Any person receiving compensation for supervising, managing, or otherwise organizing any effort to obtain signatures for a statewide petition must file a Form 15 with the office of the Secretary of State before circulating petitions. Any person compensating a person for supervising, managing, or otherwise organizing any effort to obtain signatures for a statewide petition must also file a Form 15 with the office of the Secretary of State before any signatures are obtained.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1g

Ohio Revised Code Sections: 3501.38; 3501.381; 3501.382; 3503.06;
3519.05;3519.01

Signature Requirements
  1. The total number of signatures on the petition must equal at least 10 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor at the last gubernatorial election. The Secretary of State may not accept any petition for filing which does not purport to contain the minimum number of required signatures.
  2. The signatures must have been obtained from at least 44 of the 88 counties in Ohio. From each of these 44 counties, there must be signatures equal to at least 5 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor in that county at the last gubernatorial election.
  3. Each petition signer must be a qualified elector of the state of Ohio and each petition must contain signatures of electors from only one county. If a petition contains signatures from electors in more than one county, the Secretary of State will determine which county has the majority of signatures and only the signatures from that county will be counted.
  4. Each part-petition circulated in a county must be marked with the name of the county in which it was circulated, numbered sequentially, and sorted according to county.
  5. When filing the petition with the Secretary of State, the committee must file an electronic copy of the petition and verification that the electronic copy is a true representation of the original, a summary of the number of part-petitions per county and the number of signatures on each part-petition, and an index of the electronic copy of the petition.

Ohio Constitution:
Article II, Section 1a;
Article II, Section 1g

Ohio Revised Code Sections:
3519.10;
3519.14;
3519.16; 3501.38

Filing Deadline and Filing Fee
  1. Once the required number of signatures is collected, all petitions must be filed with the Secretary of State’s office at the same time, not later than 125 days prior to the general election at which the proposed constitutional amendment is to be on the ballot.
  2. A $25 filing fee must be paid at the time of filing.
  3. Petitions may be withdrawn if written notice is given to the Secretary of State by a majority of the committee members named to represent the petitioners. Notice must be given more than 70 business days before the proposed amendment is to appear on the ballot, and once withdrawn, it may not be resubmitted.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1a; Article II, Section 1g

Ohio Revised Code Sections:
3501.05;
3513.10; 3519.08

Signature Verification and Supplemental Signatures
  1. The Secretary of State must determine the sufficiency of the signatures not later than 105 days before the election.
  2. If any petitions or signatures are determined to be insufficient, the petitioners are permitted 10 additional days to collect and file additional signatures.
  3. No additional signatures may be collected until the Secretary of State notifies the chairperson of the committee that the petition contains insufficient valid signatures and provides the committee with a unique, supplemental form. All additional signatures must be collected on the supplemental form.
  4. The Secretary of State will determine the validity of additional signatures not later than 65 days before the election.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1g

Ohio Revised Code Section: 3519.16

Signature or Petition Challenges
  1. The Ohio Supreme Court has original, exclusive jurisdiction over any and all challenges made to petitions or individual signatures.
  2. Any challenge to original signatures on petitions must be filed not later than 95 days before the election. The Supreme Court will rule on these challenges not later than 85 days before the election. If the Court does not rule prior to the 85th day before the election, the original signatures will be deemed sufficient.
  3. Any challenge to additional or supplemental signatures must be filed not later than 55 days before the election. The Supreme Court will rule on any challenges not later than 45 days before the election. If the Court does not rule prior to the 45th day before the election, those additional signatures will be deemed sufficient and the initiated constitutional amendment will then go to the Ohio Ballot Board which will meet to determine the ballot language and arguments for or against the amendment.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1g

Ohio Revised Code Section: 3519.16

Ballot Language
  1. The Ohio Secretary of State must pass the proposed constitutional amendment on to the Ballot Board.
  2. The Ohio Ballot Board must prescribe the ballot language for the proposed amendment and certify it to the Secretary of State not later than 75 days before the election.
  3. If, in the opinion of the Ohio Ballot Board, the amendment grants or creates a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel, specifies or determines a tax rate, or confers a commercial interest, commercial right, or commercial license to any person, nonpublic entity, or group of persons or nonpublic entities, or any combination thereof, however organized, that is not then available to other similarly situated persons or nonpublic entities, the Ohio Ballot Board shall prescribe two separate questions to appear on the ballot:

    The first question is “Shall the petitioner, in violation of division (B)(1) of Section 1e of Article II of the Ohio Constitution, be authorized to initiate a constitutional amendment that grants or creates a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel, specifies or determines a tax rate, or confers a commercial interest, commercial right, or commercial license that is not available to other similarly situated persons?”

    The second question shall describe the proposed constitutional amendment.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1e and Section 1g



Ohio Revised Code Section: 3505.062

Ballot Arguments
  1. Members of the petitioners' committee may prepare and file an argument and/or explanation in favor of the proposed constitutional amendment. The General Assembly, or the Governor if the General Assembly is not in session, must name persons to prepare the argument and/or explanation against any proposed constitutional amendment. All arguments and/or explanations must be 300 words or less and must be filed with the Secretary of State not later than 80 days before the election.
  2. If the petitioners' committee or the individuals named by the General Assembly or Governor fail to prepare or timely file and argument and/or explanation, the Secretary of State must notify the Ohio Ballot Board, which must prepare the argument and/or explanation or designate a group to do so. The argument and/or explanation must be filed with the Secretary of State not later than 75 days before the election.
  3. The proposed constitutional amendment together with the arguments and/or explanations must be published once a week for three consecutive weeks preceding the election, in at least one newspaper of general circulation in each county of the state, where a newspaper is published.

Ohio Constitution:

Article II, Section 1g; Article XVI, Section 1

Ohio Revised Code Section: 3519.03

Passage and Effective Date

When the Ohio Ballot Board has prescribed two separate questions for voters under Ohio Constitution Article II, Section 1e because the proposed constitutional amendment grants or creates a monopoly, oligopoly, or cartel, specified or determines a tax rate, or confers a commercial interest, commercial right, or commercial license both questions require approval by a majority of voters in order for the constitutional amendment to become effective.

Any amendment approved by the majority of voters will become effective 30 days after the election.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1b and Section 1e