Ballot Initiatives

Voters in the City and County of Denver have the right to place initiatives on the ballot by petition. Several steps are involved in this process, and the procedures are prescribed by law.

Find information in this section of the website about ballot initiatives that are currently underway, initiatives from the recent past, and the requirements involved in placing a proposal on the ballot. Initiatives on our Pending Initiatives page will not necessarily appear on the ballot.

Voters in the City and County of Denver have the right to place initiatives on the ballot by petition. 

Procedures are prescribed by law. The basics for initiated ordinances and for charter amendments are summarized below for convenience. Petitioners are responsible for understanding the legal requirements for attaining ballot status.

For information on other types of ballot initiatives, consult the rules documents on the Clerk and Recorder Rules page.

Proposed text must go through a review and comment period with City Council and the City Attorney. Following this, proponents must file several required documents with the Denver Elections Division:

  • a sample petition in the proper form
  • a descriptive ballot title in plain English
  • the text of the ordinance
  • a notarized Affidavit of Petitioner's Committee
     

The Elections Division will ensure all documents are in the proper form and conform to all legal requirements. Once the documents are approved, proponents may print and circulate their petitions. The circulation deadline is 180 days from petition approval, but other time restrictions may reduce this window.

Petitioners must collect valid signatures from registered Denver voters equaling five percent of the total votes cast in the previous mayoral election. Currently this equals 6,129 valid signatures. Petitioners are encouraged to gather an ample number of excess signatures to ensure at least the required number of signatures are confirmed valid.

Every petition signature is verified by the Elections Division. If a sufficient number of signatures is verified, the measure is referred to the ballot at the next regularly scheduled election. However, deadlines exist on how close to any election an initiative can be certified to the ballot.

This process is similar to the one for an initiated ordinance, but with some important differences.

Charter amendments can be referred to a regular election or to a special election. For the purpose of a charter amendment only, "regular election" is narrowly defined as Denver's every-four-year municipal election.

Every other regularly-scheduled election is considered a "special election" in the case of a charter amendment. In addition, a special election with an approximate date chosen by the charter amendment petitioners can be designated.

Petitioners have a maximum of 90 days to gather signatures, but other time restrictions may reduce this window. The valid signature requirement is five percent of the total number of registered Denver voters if aiming for a regular election, or ten percent if a special election.

The exact number of signatures is determined on the date the petition materials are submitted. Currently, five percent of Denver's registered voters equals approximately 21,000 signatures, and ten percent is approximately 42,000 signatures. Note: The number of registered voters fluctuates. Contact the Elections Division to get the current number.

Petitioners are encouraged to gather an ample number of excess signatures to ensure at least the required number of signatures are confirmed valid.

Pending Initiatives

This page contains updated information on all initiatives currently underway. Initiatives on this page will not necessarily appear on the ballot. Check details on each initiative. This page does NOT include information on "referred" measures. (Measures placed on the ballot by govermental entities; City Council, Denver Public Schools etc.)

An initiated ordinance proposal would enact a new ordinance into the Denver Revised Municipal Code.

There are no pending initiated ordinance proposals.

A Charter amendment proposal would make a change the Charter of the City and County of Denver.

There are no pending Charter amendment proposals.

A recall proposal seeks to remove a local elected official from office.

There are no pending recall proposals.

A referendum is a proposal to remove an ordinance from the Denver Revised Municipal Code.

There are no pending referendum proposals.

Past Ballot Initiatives

This page contains archival information on ballot initiatives of the recent past, including successful initiatives and unsuccessful ones that either did not achieve ballot status or were defeated at the polls.

 Denver Paid Sick and Safe Time
 checkmark Review by City Council and City Attorney completed, May 26, 2011.
 checkmark Submittal of sample petition materials to the Elections Division, May 26, 2011.
 checkmark Rejection of sample petition materials by Elections Division, June 1, 2011
 checkmark Second submission of sample petition materials to the Elections Division, June 3, 2011.
 checkmark Approval of sample petition materials by Elections Division, June 6, 2011.
 checkmark Signed, completed petitions received by Elections Division, July 5, 2011.
 checkmark Signature verification completed; petition signatures deemed sufficient, August 1, 2011.
 checkmark Referred to November 1, 2011 Coordinated Election ballot.
 checkmark Proposal defeated in November 1, 2011 Coordinated Election. Election results

 

  Chickens as Accessory Use
checkmark Review by City Council and City Attorney completed, December 17, 2010.
checkmark Submittal of sample petition materials to the Elections Division, December 21, 2010.
checkmark Rejection of sample petition materials by Elections Division, December 22, 2010
checkmark Second submission of sample petition materials to the Elections Division, Dec. 23, 2010.
checkmark Approval of sample petition materials by Elections Division, Dec. 27, 2010
 --- Petitioner deadline to turn in completed petitions, June 27, 2011.

*** Denver City Council passed an ordinance similar to the Chickens as Accessory Use initiative on June 20, 2011. Petitioners notified the Denver Elections Division on June 21, 2011 that they would not submit petitions for an initiated ordinance on this issue.
  

  Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission
Review by City Council and City Attorney completed, April 8, 2009.
Submittal of sample petition materials to Elections Division, April 14, 2009.
Approval of sample petition materials by Elections Division, May 4, 2009.
Signed, completed petitions received by Elections Division, Sept. 4, 2009.
Signature verification completed; petition signatures deemed insufficient, Sept. 29, 2009.
Additional signatures submitted to cure insuffiency Nov. 2, 2009.
Signature verification completed; petition signatures deemed sufficient, Nov. 27, 2009.
Referred to citywide ballot, Nov. 30, 2009.
Proposal defeated in November 2, 2010 General Election. Election results

 

  Authority for Auto Impoundment
Review by City Council and City Attorney completed, May 21, 2009.
Submittal of sample petition materials to Elections Division, May 26, 2009.
Approval of sample petition materials by Elections Division, June 4, 2009.
Signed, completed petitions received by Elections Division, July 6, 2009.
Signature verification completed; petition signatures deemed sufficient, Aug. 13, 2009; subsequent audit of results.
Protest of sufficiency received by Elections Division, July 31, 2009.
Hearing held on protest, Aug. 31, 2009.
Ruling of hearing officer received by Elections Division, Sept. 3, 2009.
Complaint filed by protestor in Denver District Court, Sept. 17, 2009.
Ruling of District Court, Oct. 30, 2009.
Referred to ballot, Sept. 8, 2009.
Proposal defeated in Nov. 3, 2009 Coordinated Election. Election results

  Sheriff Arrest Powers

 

Review by City Council and City Attorney completed, June 5, 2009.

 

Submittal of sample petition materials to Elections Division, June 18, 2009.

 

Rejection of sample petition materials by Elections Division, June 19, 2009.

 

Second submission of sample petition materials to Elections Division, June 24, 2009.

 

Rejection of second submission of sample petition materials by Elections Division, June 25, 2009

Third Submittal of sample petition materials to Elections Division, July 9, 2009.

 

Approval of third submission of sample petition materials by Elections Division, July 9, 2009.

 

Signed, completed petitions received by Elections Division, Oct. 6, 2009.

Signature verification completed; petition signatures deemed insufficient, Oct. 27, 2009.
 

Petition to Recall Nate Easley from the Office of Denver Public School Board District Four

Submittal of sample petition materials to Elections Division, Jan 19, 2011.
Rejection of sample petition materials by Elections Division for deficiencies, Jan. 21, 2011.
Second submission of sample petition materials received by Elections Division, Jan. 24, 2011.
Approval of second submission of sample petition materials by Elections Division, Jan. 26, 2011.
Petitioner deadline for completed petitions, Mar. 29, 2011.
Signed, completed petitions received by Elections Division, Mar. 29, 2011.
Signature verification completed: petition signatures deemed insufficient, April 13, 2011.
   
Petition to Recall Andrea Merida from the Office of Denver Public School Board District 2
Submittal of sample petition materials received by Elections Division, Sept. 7, 2010.
Rejection of sample petition materials by Elections Division for deficiencies, Sept. 9, 2010.
Second submission of sample petition materials received by Elections Division, Sept. 10, 2010.
Rejection of second submission of sample petition materials by Elections Division for deficiencies, Sept. 14, 2010.
Third submission of sample petition materials received by Elections Division, Sept. 28, 2010.
Approval of third submission of sample petition materials by Elections Division, Sept. 30, 2010.
Petitioner deadline to turn in completed petitions, Nov. 29, 2010. No completed petitions were submitted to the Elections Division.
 

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