Initiative process – Missouri
Overview of the petition process
The initiative process varies from state to state. In Missouri, the Secretary of State’s office is charged with overseeing this process and certifying proposed petitions for the ballot.
Concerned citizens begin the process by submitting proposed petitions to the secretary of state’s office. The office approves the proposed petition’s form and prepares ballot summary language. The state auditor also prepares a fiscal note and fiscal note summary for the proposed petition.
The secretary of state’s office then certifies the official ballot title for the petition, which consists of the ballot summary language and fiscal note summary. After the official ballot title is certified, petitioners can circulate their proposed petitions and collect signatures.
There are various deadlines for state officials to complete the work of needed to approve a petition for circulation. The process normally takes about 45 days from the date a petition is submitted until it is approved for circulation.
Petitions proposing statutory changes (laws) must be signed by a number of registered voters equal to at least five percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the last general election. Petitions proposing constitutional changes must be signed by a number of registered voters equal to at least eight percent of the number of votes cast for governor in the last general election. The required number of signature must be collected in at least six of the eight congressional districts in Missouri.
The following chart shows the number of valid signatures needed to get proposals on the ballot in Missouri at this time (based on results from the 2016 election). The required number of signatures must be obtained in at least six of Missouri’s eight congressional districts:
Once the required number of signatures have been collected, petitioners submit the signed petitions to the secretary of state’s office. The office distributes copies of the petition pages to local election authorities to verify that the signatures are those of registered Missouri voters in the correct Congressional district. The deadline for submitting signed petitions is six months before the next general election date.
Finally, if the secretary of state’s office determines that the petition contains a sufficient number of valid signatures, a certificate of sufficiency is issued, stating that the petition will be placed on the ballot for the general election.
The full details of the process in Missouri are outlined in a booklet entitled Make Your Voice Heard.