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First of many Massachusetts petition drive deadlines arrives for initiatives (Updated)
By Al Ortiz
BOSTON, Massachusetts: The first of many hurdles in the state's initiative process has arrived for supporters of proposed 2012 statewide ballot questions. Today, November 23, is the day petition signatures for proposals must be filed to local registrars.
According to current reports out of the state, out of the 23 circulating initiative efforts, three have declared that they had collected enough signatures (68,911) to begin the next process required by state initiative law.
The three measures include the "death with dignity" initiative, the proposal to require car manufacturers to give non-proprietary diagnostic directly to consumers to repair their cars and the initiative to create a new teacher evaluation process.
The initiative process in the state of Massachusetts is among one of the most complicated in the country, leaving only a handful in recent years to go through the entire process. In 2010, thirty measures were filed, and only three made the ballot. Once again in 2012, thirty were filed, 23 were authorized for circulation, and it appears most of them have fallen short.
The long road for Massachusetts initiatives
Once the collected 68,911 signatures, submitted to local registrars by today's deadline, are certified, they are then returned to supporters, who must next submit them to the state's elections office by December 7. If those signatures are deemed valid, the proposed law is then sent to the Massachusetts General Assembly for consideration.
If the general assembly does not choose to make the proposal a law, supporters must then gather additional signatures to obtain ballot access. Those signatures must be obtained from about 1/2 of 1% of voters who voted in the last governor election and supporters must submit them to local clerks.
Validated signatures must then be turned in by the first Wednesday of July to the Massachusetts Secretary of State's office. Since the deadline falls on a national holiday, July 4, that deadline could be either July 3 or 5.
The Massachusetts Attorney General's office has not reported who filed signatures by the deadline. Developments are still pending as signatures are being verified. Once reports have confirmed what initiative efforts filed signatures, updates will be given here.