Citizen petition to amend the City Charter

Any citizen or group of citizens may prepare an amendment, in proper legal form, to circulate for signatures by registered voters as required under Minnesota Statutes, Section 410.12.

Petition language:

If the proposed amendment is less than 1,000 words, the full text must accompany the signature page. If the amendment is greater than 1,000 words, a summary of the text accompanies the signature page. If a summary is necessary, it must be limited in length to be between 50 and 300 words and must be approved by the Charter Commission.

Signature requirements:

Petitions to amend the City Charter must be signed by a number of qualified voters equal to at least five percent of the total votes cast in the City of Minneapolis in the last state general election. Signatures must be in ink or inerasable pencil and cannot be electronic.

A total of 137,362 Minneapolis residents cast ballots in the 2014 state general election; therefore, a citizen petition would require signatures from a minimum of 6,869 registered Minneapolis voters to be validated under the statute. Signatures must be from Minneapolis voters who are registered to vote under their current name and at their current address. An address using a post office box is invalid.

Filing and verification of the petition:

A petition to amend the City Charter must be filed with the Charter Commission, which is the agency designated by state law to receive and accept such petitions. The Charter Commission is required to transmit the petition to the City Council through the Office of City Clerk. Within ten days of being transmitted by the Charter Commission, the City Clerk must certify that the petition either satisfies the statutory requirements and is sufficient in form or certify that the petition fails to satisfy the statutory requirements and is insufficient in form. If the petition is certified as sufficient, it is referred to the City Council for formal consideration and the drafting of ballot language to submit to the electorate. If the petition is certified insufficient, then the petitioner(s) have up to an additional ten days to collect more signatures to meet the statutory threshold of required signatures by filing an amended petition. When the amended petition is submitted, the City Clerk has five days to verify the additional signatures. If there are still not enough signatures, no further action is taken and the petition dies. If there are enough valid signatures, then the City Clerk certifies the petition and refers it to the City Council for formal consideration and the drafting of ballot language to submit to the electorate.

Any petition proposing to amend the City Charter must be submitted to the voters as a ballot question at the next general election, if one is to be held within six months but not less than 17 weeks from the date the petition is submitted to the Charter Commission. If there is not a general election within that period, a special election must be held within 90 days.

Placing the question on the ballot:

Once the petition is referred to the City Council, the City Attorney works with the appropriate standing policy committee to draft appropriate ballot language. The full text of the proposed amendment as well as the actual approved ballot language, in final form, must be published in a newspaper having an aggregate regular paid circulation of at least 25,000 copies once each week in the two weeks prior to the election.

Approval of the amendment:

To be approved, the amendment must receive the affirmative votes of at least 51% of the electorate casting a vote on the ballot question. Any amendment that concerns the sale of intoxicating liquor or wine must be approved with the affirmative votes of at least 55% of those voting on the question. An amendment which is approved becomes effective 30 days after the election unless the amendment itself provides a different effective date.

For additional information, see Minnesota Statutes, Section 410.12 or contact the Elections & Voter Services Division via Minneapolis 311 or 612-673-3000. Individuals or groups seeking to prepare and circulate an amendment via petition are encouraged to seek legal guidance to ensure their efforts are in compliance with the law.

Last updated Jun 29, 2016