LWVMA studied the process for statewide citizen-initiated ballot questions in 2018-2019. Thirty-six Massachusetts Leagues held consensus meetings in connection with this study, including LWVA. The new state position was approved at the LWVMA Convention on June 8, 2019.

Ballot Question Study (LWVMA)

2018 - 2019

LWV Amherst will meet January 24 and January 26, 2019, to discuss the Consensus questions for the Ballot Question Study. Please bring your 2018 red "Information for Voters" booklet if you still have it. A limited number will be available at the meetings.

For more information about each question below, click on the title.

Consensus Question 1

To understand a Massachusetts ballot question summary, you need at least a community college education, on average. But in 2018, you needed the equivalent of an advanced degree—19 years of education—to understand the summary for one of the three statewide questions.

Consensus Question 2

How much is $75M anyway? This is an upper limit to the cost of 2018's Ballot Question 1 for state-owned hospitals. But how many state-owned hospitals are there? And is $75M 0.1% or 1% or 10% of their current costs?

Consensus Question 3

The pros and cons for each question in "Information for Voters" are "he said, she said" arguments, prepared by opposing individuals or groups. The Commonwealth takes no responsibility for their truth or accuracy. One alternative is the Citizen Initiative Review (CIR) process.

Consensus Question 4

Do I need a law degree? Does anyone read this stuff? The "full text of question" section contains the proposed law in the standard format for a legislative bill. It can run to a dozen or more pages.

Consensus Question 5

Are we in the 21st century yet? "Information for Voters" is published only as a booklet mailed to registered Massachusetts voters. Most of the same information, including a PDF version of the Red Book, is available at the Secretary of the Commonwealth's web site.

Consensus Question 6

Does it matter where signatures come from on petitions for ballot questions? Should there be requirements that they come from all across the state?

Consensus Question 7

Should an entire page of signatures on a petition be rejected because of a stray mark?

Consensus Question 8

Why must there be a second round of signatures on a petition for a law before it goes to the voters? What purpose does it serve?

Consensus Questions 9 and 10

Who are those people collecting signatures in front of the store? Have they been trained? Will your signature count? Are they being paid?

Consensus Question 11

Only three citizen-initiated amendments to the state constitution have made it to the ballot since 1919. Massachusetts' process for this type of petition is among the most restrictive in the nation.

Consensus Question 12

Section 12 of the recreational marijuana law passed in 2016 stated that "This act shall take effect on December 15, 2016." Legislative modifications resulted in a delay of three years for full implementation.

Consensus Question 13

In the 2014 and 2016 election cycles all records of spending on ballot questions were broken. The US Supreme Court has struck down state attempts to limit ballot question spending. Can anything be done?

Consensus Question 14

In 2016 there were three “dark money” cases resulting in fines to ballot question campaign committees in Massachusetts. Because the investigations were completed after the election, they had no impact on the results of the election. Can we do better?

Consensus Question 15

In 1919, Massachusetts amended its Constitution to provide its citizens with the opportunity to initiate laws, referenda (which repeal existing law) and constitutional amendments. Should these options be retained?