Petitions Overview

Plano citizens may initiate citizen petitions for charter amendment, initiative, referendum and/or recall. This overview is intended to provide a general guide to information regarding the citizen petition process. It is informational only and is not intended to provide legal advice. Legal requirements for citizen petitions can be found in the Texas Constitution, Texas Statutes, the Plano City Charter, and case law developed by the courts of the State of Texas. Also, note that laws regarding the citizen petition process can and do change on occasion. Pursuant to state law, certain subject matters have specific requirements for citizen petitions regarding additional petition language and quantities of signatures required that differ from the general rules applicable to petitions. Additionally, Texas law excludes certain subject matters from submission to the voters. Citizen petitions on excluded issues cannot be presented to City Council and an election cannot be called on such issues. A person or organization seeking to initiate a citizen petition is responsible for complying with all legal and procedural requirements. The City cannot provide legal advice to citizens. If guidance on the law is needed, the assistance of an attorney with experience in election/petition law may be helpful in understanding and complying with these requirements. The information provided herein in no way pre-empts or waives compliance with applicable laws related to citizen petitions.

All citizen petitions require a form that complies with relevant state law and City Charter requirements. A general form for charter amendment, initiative, referendum and/or recall petitions or available by clicking on the referenced link or by contacting the City Secretary’s office. Please note that the standard forms herein are general forms and cannot be used for all petition issues. Texas state law requires additional petition language for certain citizen petition subject matters, and requires that certain subject matter citizen petition forms be obtained from the City Secretary. For example, citizen petitions on local option liquor and regional transportation issues require additional language on the petition and that the form be acquired from the City Secretary. It is a petition initiator’s/circulator’s responsibility to comply with all legal requirements for each petition.

As indicated on the general forms, certain information is required on citizen petitions by state law (Texas Election Code Chapter 277). For a petition signature to be valid the following must be provided for that signature unless otherwise directed by state law:

  1.  the signer’s signature;
  2.  the signer's printed name;
  3.  either the signer’s date of birth; or both the signer’s voter registration number and county of voter registration;
  4. the signer's residence address;
  5. and the date of signing.

The signature is the only information that is required to appear on the petition in the signer's own handwriting. More information regarding laws related to citizen petitions can be found at the Texas Secretary of State website:

http://www.sos.state.tx.us/elections/laws/petitions.shtml 

The petition must also comply with any other applicable requirements prescribed by other state or local laws.

Additional requirements for citizen petitions for recall, initiative and referendum can be found in Article 6 and Article 7 of the Plano City Charter. The City Charter requires that the signatures be verified by oath in the following form:

 “STATE OF TEXAS, COUNTY OF COLLIN; I, ________, being first duly sworn, on oath depose and say that I am one of the signers of the above petition; and that the statements made therein are true, and that each signature appearing thereto was made in my presence on the day and date it purports to have been made, and I solemnly swear that the same is the genuine signature of the person whose name it purports to be. Sworn to and subscribed to before me this _____ day of ______ 20_____. Notary Public in and for State of Texas.”

The above oath must be signed by one of the signers of the petition and the signer must attest that each signature on the petition page being attested was made in his/her presence. The oath must be signed in front of a notary and the notary must sign and place their seal on the oath. Since petitions are often circulated by more than one person, the normal practice is for the oath to be included on each petition page and for all the signatures on that page to be added in the presence of one person who will be the person signing the oath.  Of course, an individual may circulate more than one page, signing the oath on each page that person circulates, but if more than one person circulates a page, it may not be possible for that person to truthfully swear that all the signatures on that page were affixed in his or her presence which may invalidate the petition page.

However, there are exceptions to the oath requirement discussed above. The City Charter requirement regarding oaths is not required for charter amendment petitions or for certain petitions circulated pursuant to specific subjects authorized and regulated by state law.

Additionally, the state law and City Charter requirements regarding quantity of signatures needed and timeframe for collection vary according to subject matter for citizen petitions. For example, rollback rate petitions, charter amendment, and regional transportation petitions all have different requirements as set by state law for quantities and timeframes related to collecting signatures on citizen petitions. Additionally, there are legal limitations on certain subject matter issues regarding the frequency that the matter may be placed on a ballot. A person or organization seeking to initiate a citizen petition is responsible for legal compliance and may want to consult with an attorney with experience in election/petition law to understand the requirements for specific citizen petition issues.

The links to the left provide a general explanation of the different type of citizen petitions and the signature requirements for each category but the requirements may vary depending on the specific subject matter of a citizen petition as set out by specific state law requirements. Petition initiators/circulators are responsible for complying with legal requirements for each citizen petition and he/she should not rely solely on the general information herein as it may not be applicable to every type of citizen petition issue.