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A Ramsey County Citizen's Guide for Using Initiative & Referendum


What are Initiative & Referendum?

Initiative is the right to propose an ordinance on a subject area which is listed in the Charter.

Referendum is the right of citizens to repeal an ordinance approved by the County Board after November 6, 1992.

A petition is submitted by three people who are primarily responsible for the petition and are identified as Chief Petitioners.

How to use Initiative

Initiative proposals must be consistent with the Charter and require a pre-petition procedure.

Petitioners must:

  1. Develop full text of the proposed new ordinance.

  2. Collect 500 registered signatures on a pre-petition form from registered voters in Ramsey County to accompany the ordinance text.

  3. Submit text of the new ordinance, pre-petition signatures, and names and addresses of three (3) chief petitioners to the Ramsey County Manager's Office.

  4. Wait 30 days for the Ramsey County Attorney's Office legal opinion on whether or not the proposed ordinance is consistent with the Charter.

Once a pre-petition is approved, then petitioners have 90 days to:

  1. Prepare and submit a petition signed by the number of registered voters in Ramsey County equal to 10 percent of those who voted for President of the United States in the last general election. Based on 2012 election results, 27,882 signatures are required.

  2. Submit the petition and text to the Ramsey County Manager's Office.

If the petition is found to be sufficient and if the County Board fails to adopt the proposed ordinance, then voters have the power to have the ordinance put on the ballot for acceptance or rejection by voters in a County general election. If a regularly scheduled County election will not be held within 120 days, the County Board will call a special election.

How to use Referendum

Petitioners must present a petition signed by the number of registered voters in Ramsey County equal to 10 percent of those who voted for President of the United States in the last general election within 30 days after an ordinance is passed by the County Board. Based on 2012 election results, 27,882 signatures are required. The petition must be submitted to the Ramsey County Manager's Office. A petition format is available from the Ramsey County Elections Office.

If the petition is sufficient and the County Board fails to act by repealing the ordinance, then voters have the power to approve or reject that ordinance in a County general election. If a regularly scheduled County election will not be held within 120 days, the County Board will call a special election.