The LWVMA Study on the Massachusetts Ballot Question Process

The Study Proposal

The proposal for this study, presented to the membership and adopted at the 2017 LWVMA Convention:

LWVMA Board Recommendations for Studies

Recommendation 1: The Board recommends a new two-year study on the Massachusetts ballot question process.

Proposal: This study was proposed by the LWV of Needham. A study of the ballot question process combines two major League interests—voting and advocacy. LWVMA currently has no position on the ballot question process, despite having numerous positions on other areas of voting and elections.

The scope of the study will be to review the Massachusetts laws and regulations that govern the ballot question process, consider the consequences of current law based on past ballot questions, and propose concrete next steps that LWVMA could take to enact change, if the study results in recommended change. Those concrete steps could include drafts of legislation and/or Constitutional amendments needed to implement any recommended changes. By proposing concrete steps, the League will be ready to take action based on the study’s positions.

Examples of areas of study will include but are not limited to the goals of ballot questions; funding; signature requirements; the length, subject matter and complexity of ballot questions; and the regulations around accepting and rejecting signatures. Research will include but not be limited to procedures in other states, past Massachusetts ballot questions, funds expended, and procedures for changing current laws and procedures.

Study Committee

Karen Price, Co-Chair, LWVMA board, LWV-Needham
Donna Hooper, Co-Chair, LWVMA board, LWV-Lexington
Karen Callanan, LWVMA Member at Large
Carol Patey, LWV-Needham
Florence Seldin, LWV-Cape Cod Area

To contact the study committee email

Study Timeline

April 29, 2017 LWVMA Convention approves the study
August 26, 2017 LWVMA Board approves the study committee
May 4, 2018 Study committee presents consensus questions to the LWVMA Board for discussion
June 2018 Study committee posts study materials on the LWVMA website
June-November 2018 Local Leagues form study committees
Fall 2018 Final Study Guide and Consensus Questions available to Local Leagues
Dec. 1, 2018 – Jan. 31, 2019 Local Leagues hold consensus meetings
Feb. 1, 2019 Deadline for consensus reports to be submitted
Spring 2019,
2019  Convention
New position is circulated to local Leagues and adopted by Convention delegates

Study Documents

MA Government Documents

 Scholarly and Opinion Pieces

Online Resources

Test your knowledge of ballot questions in Massachusetts

1. Massachusetts is one of ________ states that can create a law through a citizen-initiated process?

A. 50, B. 31, C. 21, D. 10

2. It takes _______ signatures to start the ballot question process, and over 65,000 to complete it.

A. 5, B. 10, C. 20, D. 100

3. A citizen-initiated process has successfully amended the MA constitution __________ times since 1919.

A. 2, B. 5, C. 11, D. 15


1:C; 2:B; 3:A