Brief of the Petition Process for State Questions


The following information is for statewide petitions only. It is intended for general information purposes to provide a brief understanding of the petition process. This information is not intended to interpret the law. The laws for the Initiative and Referendum are found in Title 34 of the Oklahoma Statutes and Article 5 & 24 of the Oklahoma Constitution.

Forms (34 O.S., Section 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 & 9)


Contact Oklahoma Ethics Commission for disclosure information

Drafting of Petition

  • Proponent(s) to draft petition pamphlet and notify Secretary of State of intended date and time of filing

Filing Petition & Ballot Title (34 O.S., Sec. 7, 8 & 9)


  • Proponent(s) to file petition and ballot title with Secretary of State and Attorney General
  • Designation of State Question and Petition Numbers by Secretary of State
  • Receipt for filing to Proponent(s) by Secretary of State
  • Notice of filing to Governor and Election Board

Ballot Title Review Process (34 O.S., Sec. 9)


  • Secretary of State to submit proposed ballot title to Attorney General for review
  • Review of Proponents proposed ballot title by Attorney General (within five (5) business days of filing the measure and ballot title)
  • Attorney General to list any and all defects found, if defective, prepare and file a ballot title which complies with the law (within ten (10) business days of determining the title defective)

Notice of Publication (34 O.S., Sec. 8)


  • Publication of Notice of Filing and apparent sufficiency or insufficiency of the petition, including ballot title, by Secretary of State

Appeals or protests (34 O.S., Sec. 8, 10 & 11)


  • Appeal and protest period for ballot title and petition (within ten (10 days) after publication of the Notice of Publication)

If appeal or protest filed:

  • Protest to petition or title written notice to the Supreme Court and to the proponent(s) filing the petition. A copy to be filed with the Secretary of State.
  • Appeal to the Supreme Court on ballot title – shall offer a substitute ballot title for the one from which the appeal is taken
  • Court may correct or amend the ballot title before the court or accept the substitute suggested or draft a new one which conforms
  • Abandoned protest may be revived within five (5) days by any other citizen (34 O.S., Sec. 8.)
  • Hearing schedule set by Supreme Court
  • Hearings held
  • Supreme Court shall decide whether petition is in the form required by the Statutes.
  • Frivolous filings – Court may impose appropriate sanctions, including award of costs and attorney fees to either party as the Court deems equitable

Order from Supreme Court (34 O.S., Sec. 8)


  • Determination of sufficiency or insufficiency of the petition and ballot title by the Supreme Court
  • Court Order filed with Secretary of State
  • Notice of Court Order to Proponent(s) by Secretary of State

If no appeal or protest filed or if petition sufficient by Order of the Court:

  • Ballot title transmitted to State Election Board (within ten (10) business days after review by Attorney General)

Circulation period (34 O.S., Sec. 8)


  • Initiative Petition – circulation period - 90 days after filing of an initiative petition or determination of the sufficiency of the petition by the Supreme Court whichever is later
  • Referendum Petition – within 90 days after the adjournment of the legislature enacting the measure on which the referendum is invoked or determination of the sufficiency of the petition by the Supreme Court

Who may sign petitions (34 O.S., Sec. 3, 8, 23)


Early Filing of Signatures or termination of signature circulation period (34 O.S., Sec. 8)


  • Notice to Secretary of State
  • Certificate to terminate to Secretary of State by Proponent(s)
  • Termination of Circulation period

Filing of Signatures (34 O.S., Sections 4 & 8)


  • Notice to Secretary of State, to include number of boxes being submitted, date and time of filing
  • Receipt boxes of signature pamphlets by Secretary of State (No additional signature pamphlets will be accepted after 5:00 p.m. on the 90th day or after termination of circulation)
  • Secretary of State to seal signature boxes until count starts

Signature Counting Process (34 O.S., Sec. 3, 4, 6.1 & 8)


  • Notice to Proponent(s), specifying the date, time and location for the signature count.
  • Training counters
  • Detaching petition from signature sheets
  • Physical Count
  • Binding of signature pamphlets

Report to the Supreme Court (34 O.S., 8)


  • Total number of signatures counted
  • Total number of votes cast for the state office receiving the highest number of votes cast at the last general election
  • Receipt to Proponent(s) (copy of report to Supreme Court)
  • Violations reported to Attorney General & Supreme Court

Supreme Court Determination Numerical Sufficiency or Insufficiency (34 O.S., Sec. 8)


  • Order issued by Supreme Court filed with Secretary of State

If ruled insufficient:

  • Notice to Proponent(s) by Secretary of State
  • Notice to Governor, Election Board, Attorney General (process ended)

If ruled sufficient:

  • Publication of Notice of Filing of Signed Petitions
  • Objection to the count (within ten (10) days after publication of the Notice of Signed Petitions Publication)
  • Written notice to the Supreme Court, Secretary of State and Proponent(s) filing the petition

If Objection Filed:

  • Signatures delivered to the Supreme Court
  • Proceedings held by Supreme Court
  • Frivolous filings – Court may impose appropriate sanctions, including award of costs and attorney fees to either party as the Court deems equitable
  • Order Issued by Supreme Court

Insufficient:

  • Notice sent to Proponent(s) (process ended)
  • Notice to Governor, Election Board, Attorney General

Sufficient:

  • Supreme Court Order filed with Secretary of State
  • Notice to Proponents


Calling Election (5 O.C., Sec. 3 & 34 O.S., Sec. 12 & 25)


  • Secretary of State to notify Governor
  • Proclamation setting election date issued by Governor
  • Proclamation filed with Secretary of State
  • Secretary of State transmits Official Ballot Title and copy of State Question to Election Board

Notice of Election and Publication of Ballot Title (34 O.S., Sec. 17)


  • Publication of State Question Ballot Title by Secretary of State (not less than 5 days prior to election date)
  • State Question placed on ballot by Election Board
  • Election results certified to Governor by Election Board
  • Governor to issue proclamation of election results
  • Proclamation filed with Secretary of State
  • Secretary of State transmits copy of proclamation to Election Board

Competing Measures – Conflicting Laws (34 O.S., Sec. 21)


Publication & Codification in Oklahoma Statutes or Constitution


  • Secretary of State to cause approved State Questions to be printed by State Publisher

Petition Preserved According to Law (34 O.S., Sec. 5)