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Ballot Initiatives

The ballot initiative process gives California citizens a way to propose laws and constitutional amendments without the support of the Governor or the Legislature. A simplified explanation of the initiative process follows.

Steps for an Initiative to become Law
  1. Write the text of the proposed law (initiative draft).
  2. Submit initiative draft to the Attorney General for official title and summary. *
  3. Initiative petitions are circulated to collect enough signatures from registered voters.
  4. Signatures are turned into county election officials for verification.
  5. Initiative will either be Qualified for Ballot or be failed by the Secretary of State, after verifications and deadline dates.
  6. California voters will approve or deny the qualified Ballot Initiative.

Detailed information about the complete initiative process, petition circulation deadlines and signature requirements can be found in the Secretary of State's "How to Qualify an Initiative".

* One of the many responsibilities of the Attorney General is to prepare a title and summary for proposed initiative measures prior to the circulation of qualification petitions. State law requires a proponent to furnish the Attorney General's Office with the complete text of a proposed initiative measure for preparation of an official title and summary. The proposed measure must be submitted with required certifications, and a $2000 filing fee, which is refunded if the measure qualifies for an election ballot. See FAQ #4 for a list of requirements. By law, the Attorney General's title and summary may not exceed 100 words. After preparation, the title and summary is submitted with the proposed initiative measure to the Secretary of State.

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