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Disclaimer: The following procedures may not be applicable to municipalities operating under a municipal charter which contains seperate provisions for the exercise of municipal initiative and referendum powers. This section does not contain a complete list of rules and regulations concerning Initiatives and Referendum, so please seek legal counsel or check your municipal charter if you have a question.

There are two methods in which voters can place an issue on the ballot:

  • Initiative: Is the power of the voters to place a proposed municipal ordinance or other measure on the ballot for approval by the voters.
  • Referendum: Is the power to place an ordinance or other measure enacted by a city legislative authority on the ballot for approval by the voters.

Key points to remember when obtaining signatures for Initiatives or Referendums:

  • Initiative or referendum petitions seeking to place ordinances or other measures on the ballot must contain the signatures of at least 10 percent of the number of voters who voted for governor within the municipality or township at the last general election at which the governor was elected (R.C. 504.14, 511.25, 731.28, 731.29). In the case of petitions involving building codes, the required percentage of voters is eight percent (R.C. 505.75).
  • Each signature must be in ink.
  • Each petition must contain the date of signing and the address of the signer, including his/her street and number.
  • Each signer of any initiative or referendum petition must be a registered voter in the municipality or township in which the ordinance or measure is to be placed on the ballot.
  • Each petition or part petition must contain a statement of the circulator that, to the best of his knowledge and belief, each of the signers is a resident of the municipality or township and each signature is that of the person whose signature it purports to be.

Key points to remember pertaining to the petition text for the Initiative or Referendums:

  • Initiative petitions or part-petitions must contain the title and a full and complete text of the ordinance or other measure to be placed on the ballot.
  • Referendum petitions or part-petitions must contain the number and a full and correct copy of the title of the ordinance or other measure to be referred.
Each petition or part-petition must contain the following warning printed in red:
“Notice: Whoever knowingly signs this petition more than once, signs a name other than his own, or signs when not a legal voter is liable to prosecution.”

The following are examples of the types of Initiatives and Referendums that are commonly placed on the ballot:

  • Tax Levies
  • Permissive Sales/Excise Tax Levies
  • Income Tax for Municipalities and School Districts
  • Bond Issues
  • Municipal Charters
  • Municipal and Township Initiative Referendum
  • Formation of Municipal Corporations
  • Municipal Zoning
  • County and Township Zoning
  • Annexation, Detachment and Merger