County Referendum Petition Process:
Ballot Title (ORS 250.035–250.041, 250.175 and 250.195)
Upon receiving a prospective referendum petition, the county elections official assigns the petition an identification number and forwards two copies to the District Attorney for preparation of the ballot title. The ballot title drafting process and the collection of signatures can occur simultaneously. Once the chief petitioners have received written approval to circulate from the county elections official the chief petitioners may begin collecting signatures. The chief petitioners are not required to wait for the ballot title before collecting signatures.
After receiving copies of the prospective referendum petition, the District Attorney must prepare a ballot title and file it with the county elections official. Oregon statutes require that the ballot title contain all of the following elements:
- a caption that does not exceed 10 words
- The caption must reasonably identify the subject of the referendum.
- a question that does not exceed 20 words
- The question must plainly phrase the chief purpose of the referendum so that an affirmative response corresponds to a yes vote on the ballot.
- a summary of the referendum that does not exceed 175 words
- The summary must be concise and impartial and summarize the measure and its major effect.
Deadline for the District Attorney to File the Ballot Title
After receiving copies of the prospective referendum petition, the District Attorney has 5 business days to prepare a ballot title and file it with the county elections official.
County Elections Official
Immediately after receiving the ballot title from the District Attorney the county elections official completes the ballot title process as follows:
- The county elections official provides the chief petitioners with a copy of the ballot title.
- The county elections official publishes a notice in the next available edition of a newspaper of general circulation in the county which includes all of the following:
- a statement that the ballot title has been received
- a notice that 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
- the ballot title provided by the District Attorney or information on how to obtain a copy of the ballot title
Deadline for the County Elections Official to Publish Notice that the Ballot Title has been Received
After receiving the ballot title from the District Attorney, the county elections official publishes a notice that the ballot title has been received in the next available edition of a newspaper of general circulation. The notice must be published prior to the deadline to file a petition to review 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 District Attorney. The petition must name the District Attorney as the respondent. The petition must also state the reasons the title filed with the court is insufficient, not concise or unfair.
Deadline to File a Petition to Review the Ballot Title
The deadline to file a petition to review the ballot title is no later than the 7th business day after the ballot title is filed with the county elections official.
- If an elector files a petition to review a ballot title with the Circuit Court, the elector must also notify the county elections official in writing that the petition has been filed.
If this notice to the county elections official is not timely filed, the petition to the Circuit Court will be dismissed.
Deadline to Notify the County Elections Official that a Petition has been Filed
The notice must be filed with the county elections official no later than 5pm on the first business day after the petition is filed with the Circuit Court.
- 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 county elections official.