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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
|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|
|New position is circulated to local Leagues and adopted by Convention delegates|
MA Government Documents
- Galvin, William F. “Secretary of the Commonwealth State Ballot Question Petitions,” Revised January 2017, Accessed April 9, 2018.
- Healey, Maura. Attorney General of MA “Initiatives & Other Types of Ballot Questions”. Accessed February 24, 2018.
- Galvin, William F. “Massachusetts Statewide Ballot Measures: 1919-2016”. Accessed April 9, 2018
Scholarly and Opinion Pieces
- McDonough, John E. “Taking the law into their own hands: The Bay State’s referendum process lets voters take control—sometimes,” CommonWealth. Nov 15, 2002.
- Conlon, Dina E. “The Ballot Initiative in Massachusetts: The Fallacy of Direct Democracy,” Suffolk University Law Review 37 (2004): 1087–1197.
- Library Instruction Committee, Law and Political Science Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association. “Direct Democracy Research: Background and Sources for Scholars and Voters,” American Library Association Annual Conference, 2008.
- Initiative and Referendum Institute, University of Southern California.
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