How to initiate a referendum

Friends of Harford has successfully worked to get important issues on the County ballot by initiating public referendums.

What is a referendum?

Harford County voters may decide that they want to vote on a bill that has been passed by the County Council. A referendum allows the voters to decide whether a bill should pass or fail. Normally, that means that while a majority of the County Council (four members) do support the bill, many citizens do not support or agree with them and wish to have all the voters of the County decide whether they endorse the bill.

A bill becomes effective as County Law 60 days after the County Council passes it and the County Executive signs it. Before that 60 days lapses, voters may petition for a referendum–or a call for a vote.

If five percent of the voters in the County sign the referendum petition sheet, then at the very next scheduled election, every voter in the County will have the opportunity to decide whether the bill in question (note that the language of the question on the ballot is written by the County and not as written on the referendum sheets) should be enacted or should be “vetoed” by the citizens. County Code 4-22.

How to start a citizen-initiated referendum