The Operation of the Initiative, Referendum and Recall in Oregon

By James D. Barnett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI THE MAKING OF PETITIONS

I
The Percentage of Signatures Required

UNDER the constitutional provision now in force an initiative measure may be proposed by a petition signed by a number of "legal voters" equal to eight per cent of the votes cast for justice of the supreme court at the election next preceding the filing of the petition, and a referendum may similarly be called by a petition containing five per cent of this number.1 No distinction in this regard is made between statutes and constitutional amendments. The actual number of signatures required of course automatically increases roughly in proportion to the increase of the number of the qualified voters of the state. The number of signatures required for measures submitted at the election of 1904 was 4386 for referendum petitions, and 7018 for initiative petitions. These numbers have increased until at the election of 1914, 6312 signatures were required for referendum petitions, and 10,099 for initiative petitions.

On account of the ease of securing signatures under the present provisions and the consequent over-burdening of the ballot with initiative and referendum measures, there has been some agitation for the increase of the percentages at present required.2 However, the successful operation of the system of direct legislation in Oregon has been attributed in part to the low percentages

____________________
1
Constitution, art. 4, sec. 1 ( 1902). Sometimes petitions are circulated against the proposed submission of measures to the voters.
2
E.g. Senate Concurrent Resolution, 1911, no. 13.

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