The people reserve the power to approve or reject at the polls any legislation enacted by the council which is subject to the initiative process under this Charter, except an ordinance which is enacted for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health or safety, which contains a statement of its urgency, and which is adopted by the favorable votes of five (5) or more of the councilmembers. Prior to the effective date of any ordinance which is subject to referendum, a petition signed by qualified voters of the city equal in number to the number of signatures required by state law to initiate an amendment to this Charter may be filed with the city clerk requesting that any such ordinance be either repealed or submitted to a vote of the people. When such a petition has been certified as sufficient by the city clerk, the ordinance specified in the petition shall not go into effect, or further action thereunder shall be suspended if it shall have gone into effect, until and unless it is approved by the voters as herein provided.
This section deals with the people’s power of referendum, the ability to petition to have legislation either repealed or submitted to a vote of the people.
The charter requires that a referendum petition must be submitted “prior to the effective date of any ordinance which is subject to referendum.”
A referendum petition may be submitted to council via a petition "signed by qualified voters of the city equal in number to the number of signatures required by state law to initiate an amendment to this Charter."
"Qualified voter" means registered voter. [See Texas Election Code, §277.021]
The number of valid signatures required by state law is as follows: "The governing body shall submit a proposed [ordinance] to the voters for their approval at an election if the submission is supported by a petition signed by a number of qualified voters of the municipality equal to at least five percent of the number of qualified voters of the municipality or 20,000, whichever number is the smaller." [See Texas Local Government Code, §9.004(a)]
Texas Election Code, §277.003 allows signatures on a petition to be verified by statistical sample. It states, "If a petition contains more than 1,000 signatures, the city secretary or other authority responsible for verifying the signatures may use any reasonable statistical sampling method in determining where the petition contains the required number of valid signatures,except that the sample may not be less than 25 percent of the total number of signatures appearing on the petition or 1,000, whichever is greater."
The City Clerk's Office verifies all initiative and referendum petitions by statistical sampling method. The City works with a statistical consultant to create a random sample and analyze the results of the verification process.
Typically, for one petition containing 20,000 or more signatures it will take 12-15 days from the date the petition is received by the City Clerk to complete the verification process and analyze the results before a certification can be issued.
(a) For a petition signature to be valid, a petition must:
(1) contain in addition to the signature:
(A) the signer's printed name;
(B) the signer's:
(i) date of birth; or
(ii) voter registration number and, if the territory from which signatures must be obtained is situated in more than one county, the county of registration;
(C) the signer's residence address; and
(D) the date of signing; and
(2) comply with any other applicable requirements prescribed by law.
(b) The signature is the only information that is required to appear on the petition in the signer's own handwriting.
(c) The use of ditto marks or abbreviations does not invalidate a signature if the required information is reasonably ascertainable.
(d) The omission of the state from the signer's residence address does not invalidate a signature unless the political subdivision from which the signature is obtained is situated in more than one state. The omission of the zip code from the address does not invalidate a signature.
(e) A petition signature is invalid if the signer signed the petition earlier than the 180th day before the date the petition is filed.
For more information on petition filing processes, see: