Initiative Petitions - Process and Procedures
The Florida Constitution grants the people the power to propose amendments to Florida’s Constitution. This can be accomplished by getting petitions signed by a number of voters equal to eight percent of votes cast in the last presidential election. The petitions must also come from at least one-half of the congressional districts of the state. For the number of signatures needed for the 2014 election and the breakdown by congressional district, please see Congressional District Requirements.
Steps in the Initiative Petition Process
Register as a Political CommitteeBack
The first step in the initiative petition process is for the individual or group wishing to propose an amendment to register as a political committee with the Division of Elections, pursuant to Section 106.03, Florida Statutes.
Get Format ApprovalBack
The sponsoring political committee is then required to submit the proposed initiative amendment petition form to the Division of Elections prior to the petitions being circulated for signatures. The division only reviews the initiative petition form for sufficiency of its format. (See Rule 1S-2.009.) The division does not review the form for legal sufficiency. (See Constitutional Amendment Petition Form) The format is sufficient only if each petition form:
- Is printed on separate cards or individual sheets of paper;
- Is of a size between 3 x 5 inches and 8 ½ x 11 inches;
- Is clearly and conspicuously entitled “Constitutional Amendment Petition Form” at the top of the form;
- Includes adequate space for the signee’s name, address, city, county, date of birth, voter registration number, signature and date of signature.
- Conspicuously contains in the following order:
- A ballot title not exceeding 15 in words in length;
- A ballot summary not exceeding 75 words in length;
- The article and section being created or amended; and
- The full text of the amendment being proposed.
- The form must contain a space for only one voter’s information and signature. The division will not approve petitions providing for multiple signatures per page;
- Is marked with “paid political advertisement” or the abbreviation “pd. pol. adv.” and identifies the name of the sponsoring political committee, and the name of the entity paying for the advertising, if different from the sponsoring political committee, pursuant to Section 106.143, Florida Statutes;
- Contains space for the name and address of a paid petition circulator in the event the petition form is gathered by a paid petition circulator, in accordance with Section 106.19(3), Florida Statutes.
Serial Number AssignmentBack
Once approved, the Division of Elections will assign a serial number to the approved form and notify the sponsoring committee. The serial number must be printed in the lower right hand corner of the petition form.
Once the petition has been approved, the sponsoring political committee may begin circulating the petitions for signature. No initiative petition circulated for signature may be bundled with or attached to any other petition form. Petition signatures are good for two years from the date signed.
Submit Petitions for VerificationBack
All signed petition forms shall be returned to the sponsoring political committee. The sponsoring political committee shall then submit the signed petition forms to the Supervisor of Elections in the county of residence of the signee for verification of signatures in accordance with Rule 1S-2.0091, Florida Administrative Code. It is the responsibility of the sponsoring political committee to ensure the signed forms are properly filed with, or if misfiled forwarded to, the Supervisor of Elections in the county in which the signee is a registered voter. Petition forms must contain all of the following when submitted to the Supervisors of Elections or they will be deemed invalid and the Supervisor will not verify the signature:
- The voter’s name;
- The voter’s address (including city and county);
- The voter’s date of birth or voter registration number;
- The voter’s signature; and
- The date the voter signed the petition, as recorded by the voter.
The Supervisors of Elections are required to check the signatures within 30 days of receipt of the petitions. However, to ensure that all petitions are verified prior to the deadline, it is recommended that the sponsoring political committee submit petitions to the Supervisors of Elections as far in advance of the deadline as possible.
Pay for Cost of VerificationBack
For each signature checked, ten cents, or the actual cost of checking the signature, whichever is less, is to be paid to the Supervisor of Elections. This fee is paid at the time of submitting the petitions by the sponsoring political committee. If the committee is unable to pay the charges without imposing an undue burden on the organization, a written certification of such inability, given under oath, may be submitted to the Division of Elections to have signatures verified at no charge. (see Affidavit of Undue Burden). The Division will circulate the oath to each Supervisor of Elections in the state.
Note: If the committee pays any person to solicit signatures, an undue burden affidavit may not be filed in lieu of paying the verification fee (see Section 106.191, Florida Statutes). Also, if an undue burden oath has been filed and payment is subsequently made to any person to solicit signatures on a petition, the undue burden oath is no longer valid and a fee for all signatures previously submitted and any submitted thereafter shall be paid by the sponsoring political committee. Furthermore, if any monetary contributions are received by the sponsoring political committee, they must first be used to reimburse the Supervisor of Elections for any signature verification fees that were not paid because of the filing of the undue burden oath (see Section 99.097(6), Florida Statutes).
Certification of PetitionsBack
Upon completion of the verification, the Supervisors of Elections must certify the total number of valid signatures to the Department of State no later than 5:00 p.m. on February 1 of the year in which the election is held.
Supreme Court ReviewBack
Once a committee obtains signatures from 10% of the voters required from at least 25% of the congressional districts, the Division will send the petition to the Attorney General. Within 30 days of receipt, the Attorney General will petition the Supreme Court requesting an advisory opinion regarding the compliance of the text of proposed amendment with s. 3, Art. XI of the State Constitution and the compliance of the proposed ballot title and summary with Section 101.161, Florida Statutes.
Fiscal Impact StatementBack
At the same time the petition is sent to the Attorney General, the Division sends a copy of the petition to the Financial Impact Estimating Conference. The Financial Impact Estimating Conference will review the amendment and complete an analysis and financial impact statement. If the amendment obtains ballot position, the financial impact statement will be placed on the ballot following the ballot summary.
Certification of Ballot PositionBack
Upon a determination that the constitutionally required number of signatures and distribution of signatures by congressional districts has been obtained by February 1 of the year of the election, the Secretary of State shall issue a certificate of ballot position to the sponsoring political committee. No later than February 2 of the year of the election, the Director, Division of Elections shall assign and post the designating number for the amendment in accordance with Rule 1S-2.0011.