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.