Signature requirements for ballot measures in Massachusetts
|Laws • History|
|List of measures|
Basis for calculation
Signatures in Massachusetts must equal 3% of votes cast for governor in the last election. This is the lowest percentage requirement for a constitutional amendment for any of the initiative or referendum states.
Since Massachusetts employs an indirect initiative process, the General Court has an opportunity to adopt proposed laws and amendments before they move to a popular vote. However, unlike other states, Massachusetts requires additional signatures following legislative inaction.
For an amendment or statute, signatures must equal 3% of votes cast for governor in the most recent election (excluding blanks). If the legislature declines to act on a proposed statute, supporters are required to collect a second round of signatures totaling 0.5% of the votes cast for governor in the most recent election (excluding blanks). For proposed amendments, one-quarter of the legislature must approve the petition in a joint session -- a second round of signatures is not required.
For a veto referendum, signatures must equal 1.5% of the total votes cast for governor in the most recent election. No more than one-fourth of these certified signatures may come from any one county. If the petitioners request suspension of the law in writing, signatures are required totaling 2% of the total votes cast for governor in the last election.
|Year||Amendment or Statute||Statute add-on||Veto referendum||Veto referendum (suspension of law)|
- See also: Distribution requirement
The state of Massachusetts has two distinct distribution requirements:
- No more than 25% of signatures may be from one county in all types of petitions.
- No more than one-quarter (17,228 for 2010) of the certified signatures may come from any one county.
The following signature requirements were needed and steps were to be taken in order to place an initiative on the ballot in 2010:
- Supporters must have collected a minimum of 66,593 valid signatures from registered voters by December 2, 2009; except for veto referenda, where they must have collected 33,297 signatures.
- The approved measures were then reviewed by the Legislature.
- If the Massachusetts Legislature did not approve of the initiative by the May 4, 2010 deadline, petition organizers must then obtain signatures from about 1/2 of 1% of voters who voted in the last governor election and submit to city and town clerks by June 23, 2010.
- Clerks had until the July 2, 2010 deadline to validate those signatures.
- Validated signatures then had to be turned in by sponsors by July 7, 2010 to the Massachusetts Secretary of State's Elections Division.
- See also: Petition drive deadlines, 2014
For the 2010 ballot, petitions must be submitted to the Local Registrars of Voters at least 14 days before the first Wednesday in December for verification, with the exception of Boston, which will be 10 days earlier. Once signatures are verified by the Local Registrars of Voters, proponents have until the first Wednesday in December to submit them to the Secretary of State.
- Ballot access requirements for political candidates in Massachusetts
- Laws governing the initiative process in Massachusetts
- History of Initiative & Referendum in Massachusetts
- States where signature requirements are based on votes cast for governor
- Walsh v. Secretary of the Commonwealth
- Current Massachusetts petitions from the Massachusetts Attorney General
- How to Place a Question on the State Election Ballot
- Ballot Initiative Limits Sought, an article from The Boston Globe
- Signature requirements to initiatives
- Information on Referendum Petitions from the Secretary of the Commonwealth
- NCSL signature chart for 2008
- Massachusetts signature requirements collated by the Citizens in Charge Foundation
- 2010 Candidates Guide
- 2012 Candidates Guide
- Election Schedule 2012
- Massachusetts Secretary of State, "2010 Election Returns"(See Page 2)
- Massachusetts Secretary of State, "Elections: Initiative Petition for Law"
- Massachusetts Secretary of State, "State Ballot Question Petitions," accessed December 26, 2013
- Confirmed with MA Secretary of State-Elections via phone on 01-27-2011
State of Massachusetts
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