Signature requirements for ballot measures in Massachusetts

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This page details signature requirements for statewide ballot measures in Massachusetts.
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.

Signature requirements

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)
2014 68,911 11,485 34,456 45,941
2012 68,911 11,485 34,456 45,941
2010 66,593 11,099 33,297 44,396
2008 66,593 11,099 33,297 44,396

DocumentIcon.jpg See law: Massachusetts Constitution, Article XLVIII, Parts IV-V & Article LXXXI, Section 2

Distribution requirement

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.

Actual requirements

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.

Signature deadlines


See also: Petition drive deadlines, 2014

The 2014 deadline to qualify initiatives on the Massachusetts ballot was December 4, 2013.[3]


The deadline to submit signatures for the 2012 ballot in Massachusetts was August 1, 2012[4].


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.

See also

External links