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Initiative, Referendum and Recall Information

April 2, 2009

Here is some important information for all citizens, information concerning the power of citizens that probably half of the nation doesn’t know it has. Check it out!


Initiative, Referendum and Recall are three powers reserved to the voters to enable them, by petition, to propose or repeal legislation or to remove an elected official from office.

Proponents of an initiative, referendum or recall effort must apply with the City Clerk for an official petition serial number. Pursuant to state law (A.R.S. Titles 16 and 19), prior to beginning any political activity pertaining to initiative, referendum or recall efforts, a statement of organization must be filed with the City Clerk to register the political committee.

The City Clerk Department provides a packet of information that contains the necessary forms and additional information regarding these three important processes. Please call the City Clerk Department, Elections Division, at 602-262-6837 (TTY 602-534-2737) for additional information or to schedule a time to meet to review the packet of information.

Initiative is a power reserved to the voters to propose legislation, by petition, that would enact, amend or repeal a City Charter or Code provision. If the required number of signatures is obtained on a petition, the City Council must either adopt the proposed measure or refer it to the voters at a special election (or the next regular election if it is within six months). If approved by voters, the measure becomes law. City of Phoenix initiative petitions must be filed with the City Clerk within two years of obtaining the petition serial number.

Referendum is a power reserved to the voters that allows the voters, by petition, to demand the reconsideration and repeal of any legislative action of the City Council, except an emergency measure, before it becomes effective. If a petition with the required number of valid signatures is filed within 30 days of the council action, the ordinance or action is suspended from becoming effective. The City Council then has the duty to reconsider the action and either repeal it or submit it to the voters for approval or rejection. The measure would be submitted to the voters at the next regular election, unless the Council chooses to call a special election for the referendum. The measure does not become law unless it is approved by voters.

Recall is a power reserved to the voters that allows the voters, by petition, to demand the removal of an elected official. If a recall petition with the required number of valid signatures is filed, the officer may resign or run for retention at a special election against any candidates whose names qualify to appear on the recall ballot.

A public official cannot be subjected to recall until the official has held office for at least six months from first assuming office. A second or subsequent recall cannot be initiated during the term of a public officer who has been successful in a recall election unless those proposing the new recall pay the cost of the prior recall election.

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