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Petitions signed by HJTA Members urging lawmakers to protect Proposition 13 are sorted and ready for delivery to the Capitol.

California voters have had the tools of direct democracy — the initiative, the referendum and the recall — since 1911, and they’re used frequently. Sometimes a voter will sign a petition and later be asked to sign something similar again. It can cause confusion.

Voters may be asked to add their signatures to online petitions, to petitions circulated by volunteers and to petitions circulated by professional signature-gatherers. It’s important to know which petitions are part of the legal process to qualify a recall, initiative or referendum for the ballot, and which are not.

Electronic online petitions never count toward qualifying a ballot measure. They are used for organizing, building mailing lists and demonstrating a level of support. Signatures on an electronic online petition cannot be submitted to a city, county or state elections office. They do not count for the purpose of getting an initiative, referendum or recall on any ballot, whether state or local.

All official petitions are on paper and include an official description of the proposed ballot measure.

Very often, the proponents of a ballot measure will have official petitions available for download from their website. These will count toward qualifying a measure for the ballot, even if printed at home, as long as they are completed correctly by the voter and circulator and sent back to the proponents’ correct address before the deadline. (If you print an official petition at home, you may sign it as the circulator as well as the registered voter.)

Another type of petition is simply used to send a message to lawmakers. HJTA often asks Members to sign petitions urging elected officials to protect Proposition 13. When you sign and return those to us, we deliver them to your representatives in the Capitol. These petitions are a way of making sure lawmakers know how many of their own constituents support Proposition 13.

A number of proposed statewide initiatives may be headed for the November 2022 ballot. HJTA will keep you informed about which ones are beneficial to taxpayers and where you can sign an official petition. For the fastest updates, sign up for e-mail alerts today.