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If there is an issue that you think should become a law, you don’t have to wait until your state legislature agrees with you. You can let the voters decide by filing a ballot initiative. Your direct action can qualify your measure to be on the ballot in the next statewide election.

Last updated on: December 20, 2020

The following is a brief overview of the ballot initiative process in Massachusetts, as defined by the Massachusetts Constitution

Statutory and Constitutional Amendment Initiatives

Article XLVIII in the Massachusetts state constitution provides for both statutory and constitutional amendment initiatives.

You will need to submit an initiative petition for approval along with ten signatures from registered Massachusetts voters. You must submit your petition for approval by the first Wednesday in August.

Article XLVIII, Section 2, provides specifications on the topics that may be included in an initiative petition. Article XLVIII, Section 3, provides procedures and deadlines to follow for submitting an initiative petition for approval.

Upon approval, you can begin the circulation of your statutory initiative for signatures. The petition must have at least 80,239 signatures. You will need to collect signatures split among Massachusetts counties. No more than one-fourth of the signatures can come from a specific county. 

Submit the signed petitions no later than 14 days before the first Wednesday in December.

Constitutional amendment petitions don’t require circulation. Once approved, petitions are passed through and voted on by state legislation.

For more information on the steps in the initiative process, please visit the Massachusetts government website.

Ballot Initiative at the Local Level

You do have the right to file a local ballot initiative in Massachusetts, so check with your local government for more information regarding specific procedures in your area. When you want to file an initiative, contact us.