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 from registered voters. 

Recommended steps & timeline for placing a Charter amendment question on the ballot by Citizen Petition in 2016

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.

Note: If a summary is necessary, the summary must first be submitted to the Charter Commission prior to beginning the process of collecting signatures. The summary must be 50 to 300 words. Once it is submitted, the Charter Commission must call a meeting to be held within 10 days to review the summary for fairness and completeness, and at least eight Commissioners must approve the language.

Signature requirements:

Petitions must include signatures equaling at least five percent of the total votes cast in Minneapolis in the last state general election. Signatures must be in ink or inerasable pencil, and cannot be electronic. 

137,362 Minneapolis residents voted at the last state general election held November 4, 2014, so a citizen petition would currently require the signature of at least 6,869 registered Minneapolis voters to move forward.

Note: Signatures must be from Minneapolis voters, all registered to vote under their current name at their current Minneapolis address. An address using a post office box is not valid.

Filing and verification of the petition:

A petition must be filed with the Charter Commission through the Office of the City Clerk.

Within 10 days, the Elections & Voter Services Division must verify the petition includes at least the minimum number of signatures from currently registered Minneapolis voters. If there are not enough signatures, the petition will be returned to the petitioners for up to 10 additional days to collect more signatures.

After a second submission, the Elections Division has five days to verify the additional signatures. If there are still not enough signatures, no further action is taken. If there are enough signatures, the petition goes to the Charter Commission to transmit it to the City Council for action. The amendment 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 sent to the City Council, the Council refers it to its Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Committee to propose ballot language for the question. With the advice of the City Attorney, the City Council considers the recommendation of the IGR Committee and approves the final ballot language.

The full text of the amendment and the actual ballot language must be published in a newspaper having an aggregate regular paid circulation of at least 25,000 copies by the Elections Division once each week in the two weeks prior to the election. 

Approval of the amendment:

Approval of the amendment requires a 'yes' vote by 51% of those who vote on the ballot question. An amendment that concerns the sale of intoxicating liquor or wine must pass with a 'yes' vote by 55% of those voting on the question.

An amendment that passes becomes effective 30 days after the election unless the amendment itself includes a different effective date.

Note: The Plain Language Charter Revision, passed by Minneapolis voters via ballot question at the general election November 5, 2013, replaced the existing City Charter in its entirety on January 1, 2015, including any amendments that took effect prior to that date.

For additional information, see Minnesota Statute Chapter 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 Oct 30, 2015