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If there is an issue that you think should become a law, you don’t have to wait until your state legislature agrees with you. You can let the voters decide by filing a ballot initiative. Your direct action can qualify your measure to be on the ballot in the next statewide election.

Last updated on: September 15, 2020

The following is a brief overview of the city and village ballot initiative process for the state of Wisconsin. Please visit the  Legislative Reference Bureau for further information.

Ballot initiative process

In the state of Wisconsin, voters do not have any statewide Initiative or Referendum rights. This means they are not able to introduce initiatives at a state level. However, residents can participate in the initiative process in a city or village level.

Residents who wish to initiate direct legislation should start with a proposal and the distribution of a petition. Before you start make sure your petition meets these requirements.

You’ll need to gather signatures of registered voters within that city or village within 60 days. The number of valid signatures must be equal to or greater than 15 percent of the votes cast in the last election for governor within the specified city or village.

Getting on the Ballot

You’ll file the petition with the municipal clerk after gathering the proper amount of valid signatures. If certified, the common council or village board will have 30 days to pass the initiative. If your approval date falls 70 days or more from the next general elevation your initiative will appear on the ballot. 

For more details about when an approved initiative may appear on a ballot visit the Wisconsin State Legislature website

For more information on how to enact Initiative Process on a statewide level visit Citizens In Charge.

If you’re interested in using the ballot initiative process in Wisconsin, contact us today to get started.