Initiated Statute

If a citizen feels that an issue is not addressed properly (or at all) in the Ohio Revised Code, he or she can follow the procedures outlined in the Ohio Constitution and Revised Code (below) to submit a proposed law (statute) 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(opens in a new window)

File Initial Petition With Ohio Attorney General and Secretary of State
  1. An initial written petition, signed by 1,000 Ohio registered voters(opens in a new window), must be submitted to the Attorney General with the full text and summary of the proposed law.
  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(opens in a new window) of the proposed law.
  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 proposed law(opens in a new window). The Ballot Board has 10 days(opens in a new window) 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 law, 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 statute.

Ohio Constitution:
Article II, Section 1c(opens in a new window)

Ohio Revised Code Sections:
3501.05(opens in a new window);
3505.062(opens in a new window);
3519.01(opens in a new window);
3519.05(opens in a new window)

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 law and must have the following statement printed at the top: “INITIATED PETITION Law proposed by initiative petition first to be submitted to the General Assembly.
  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(opens in a new window) 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(opens in a new window) with the office of the Secretary of State before any signatures are obtained.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1g(opens in a new window)

Ohio Revised Code Sections: 3501.38(opens in a new window); 3501.381(opens in a new window); 3501.382(opens in a new window); 3503.06(opens in a new window);
3519.05(opens in a new window);
3519.01(opens in a new window)

Signature Requirements
  1. The total number of signatures on the petition must equal at least 3 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 1.5 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 1b(opens in a new window);
Article II, Section 1g(opens in a new window)

Ohio Revised Code Section: 3519.10(opens in a new window); 3519.14(opens in a new window);
3519.16(opens in a new window);
3501.38(opens in a new window)

Additional Signatures
  1. If any petitions or signatures are determined to be insufficient, the petitioners are permitted 10 additional days to collect and file additional signatures.
  2. 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 the unique, supplemental form. All additional signatures must be collected on the supplemental form.

Ohio Constitution:
Article II, Section 1b(opens in a new window); Article II, Section 1g(opens in a new window)

Ohio Revised Code Section: 3519.16(opens in a new window)

Filing Deadline and Filing Fee
  1. The petition must be filed with the Secretary of State not less than 10 days prior to the commencement of any session of the Ohio General Assembly. Legislative sessions begin on the first Monday in January.
  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 initiative is to appear on the ballot, and once withdrawn, it may not be resubmitted.
  4. Upon receipt of the petition, the Secretary of State will send the proposal for a new law to the General Assembly as soon as it convenes.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1b(opens in a new window)

Ohio Revised Code Sections:
3501.05(opens in a new window);
3513.10(opens in a new window);
3519.08(opens in a new window)

Ohio General Assembly
  1. The Ohio General Assembly has four months to act on the proposed law.
  2. If the General Assembly fails to pass the proposed law, passes it in amended form, or takes no action at all within four months from the date it was received by the General Assembly, supplemental petitions may be circulated by the petitioners demanding that the proposed law be submitted to Ohio voters at the next general election.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1b(opens in a new window)

Supplemental Petition and Supplemental Signatures
  1. The supplemental petition must contain signatures of Ohio voters that is equal to 3 percent of the most recent vote for governor and must be obtained from at least 44 of the 88 Ohio counties. From each of these 44 counties there must be signatures equal to at least 1.5 percent of the total vote cast for the office of governor in that county at the last gubernatorial election.
  2. The petition must be signed and filed with the Secretary of State within 90 days after the General Assembly fails to enact the proposed law in original form, passes it in amended form, or fails to take any action within four months from the time it was received by the General Assembly. The petition must also be filed not later than 125 days before the election at which the initiative is to be placed on the ballot.
  3. The supplemental petition may be worded in its original form or may contain amended language included by the Ohio General Assembly. If any petitions or signatures are determined to be insufficient, the petitioners are permitted 10 additional days to collect and file additional signatures.
  4. 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.
  5. The Secretary of State will determine the validity of these additional signatures not later than 65 days before the election.

Ohio Constitution:
Article II, Section 1b(opens in a new window)

Ohio Revised Code Section: 3519.16(opens in a new window)

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.

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1g(opens in a new window)

Ohio Revised Code Section: 3519.16(opens in a new window)

Ballot Language
  1. Once the Secretary of State determines the sufficiency of the supplemental petition, the Secretary of State must pass the initiative on to the Ballot Board.
  2. The Ohio Ballot Board must prescribe the ballot language for the proposed law and certify it to the Secretary of State not later than 75 days before the election.
Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1g(opens in a new window)

Ohio Revised Code Section:
3505.062(opens in a new window)
Ballot Arguments
  1. Members of the petitioners' committee may prepare and file an argument and/or explanation in favor of the proposed law. 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 the proposed law. 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 persons named by the General Assembly or Governor fail to prepare or timely file the 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 law 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(opens in a new window); Article XVI, Section 1(opens in a new window)

Ohio Revised Code Section: 3519.03(opens in a new window)

Effective Date

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

Ohio Constitution: Article II, Section 1b(opens in a new window)