Bay State ballot measures

The Daily Brew
Welcome to the Tuesday, November 26, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Deadline passes to submit signatures for ballot initiatives in Massachusetts
  2. Filing deadline upcoming for two congressional special elections
  3. Forty-two percent of Brew readers who responded to last week’s survey say they’ve attended a political debate in person

This is the last edition of the Daily Brew for this week. We will return on Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!


Deadline passes to submit signatures for ballot initiatives in Massachusetts 

Ballot initiative campaigns in Massachusetts were required to submit more than 80,000 signatures to local registrars by Nov. 20 in order for measures to take the next step toward qualifying for the 2020 ballot.  After signatures are verified by local registrars, petitioners must submit those signatures to the secretary of the commonwealth by Dec. 4. 

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey (D) approved 10 initiatives for circulation on Sept. 4. Three groups—Voter Choice for Massachusetts, Right to Repair Coalition, and the Massachusetts Senior Coalition—reported last week that they had submitted signatures to local registrars: 

  • Voters Choice for Massachusetts is sponsoring the Massachusetts Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative that would enact ranked-choice voting for many elections in Massachusetts. The measure would exclude elections for president, county commissioners, and regional district school committees, as well as elections in caucuses. The initiative’s sponsors reported submitting 130,000 signatures.

  • Right to Repair Coalition is sponsoring the Massachusetts Right to Repair Initiative which concerns access to mechanical data in a vehicle’s on-board diagnostics or telematics system. 

  • Massachusetts Senior Coalition is sponsoring the Massachusetts Nursing Homes Medicaid Ratemaking Initiative, which would change the formula that state healthcare programs, such as MassHealth (Medicaid), use to determine payments to nursing homes and rest homes. The initiative’s sponsors reported submitting over 130,000 signatures.

The required number of signatures—80,239—equals 3% of the votes cast in the state’s last gubernatorial election. No more than one-quarter of the verified signatures on any petition can come from a single county. If enough signatures are submitted for an initiative, the legislature may adopt the measure by a majority vote in both houses. It must act on a successful petition by May 6, 2020. 

If the legislature rejects the proposed law or declines to act on it, petitioners have until July 1, 2020, to request additional petition forms and submit a second round of 13,374 signatures. If proponents collect a sufficient number of signatures in this round, the initiative will be placed on the 2020 ballot. A measure only goes on the ballot if the legislature does not pass it and if the second round of signatures is successfully collected.

Massachusetts’ two-step process is similar to Ohio’s process for initiated statutes. If a ballot initiative receives signatures of 3% of the votes cast for governor, the proposal goes before the Ohio State Legislature. If the legislature doesn’t enact it, it must receive signatures from another 3% of the votes cast for governor to place the measure on the ballot.

Thirty-nine measures appeared on statewide ballots in Massachusetts from 1996 to 2018, an average of three per year during even-numbered election years. During this time, 21 were approved and 18 were defeated.

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Filing deadline upcoming for two congressional special elections 

Candidate filing deadlines are approaching for two upcoming special elections for U.S. House seats that will take place in the first half of 2020. Five special elections have been scheduled to take place during the 116th Congress.

Wisconsin’s 7th

Candidates in Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District must file by Dec. 2. This special election will fill the vacancy created when Rep. Sean Duffy (R) resigned on Sept. 23.  Primary elections are scheduled for Feb. 18, 2020, which is the same date as Wisconsin’s statewide spring primary for judicial offices. The general election is May 12, 2020.

Gov. Tony Evers (D) originally scheduled the special election for the 7th District on Jan. 27, 2020, but was required to move the election date back after the U.S. Department of Justice announced that the original dates did not adhere to federal requirements.

President Trump won the 7th District in the 2016 presidential election, 58% to 37%. The District includes all or part of six of Wisconsin’s 23 Pivot Counties. Pivot Counties are counties that voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Trump (R) in 2016.

California’s 25th

Candidates wishing to run in the special election for California’s 25th Congressional District must file by Jan. 9, 2020. This special election will fill the vacancy resulting from the resignation of former Rep. Katie Hill (D), who left office Nov. 1. 

California uses a top-two primary system in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot, regardless of party. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election. The primary is scheduled for March 3, 2020, and the general election will be held May 12, 2020. 

Hill defeated then-incumbent Rep. Steve Knight (R) in the 2018 general election, 54% to 46%. Hillary Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential election, 50% to 44%.

Maryland’s 7th

The filing deadline was Nov. 20 for candidates running in the special election in Maryland’s 7th Congressional District following the death of Elijah Cummings (D) on Oct. 17. Thirty-two candidates—24 Democrats and eight Republicans—are competing in primary elections on Feb. 4, 2020. The general election will be held April 28, 2020. Clinton won the district in the 2016 presidential election, 76% to 20%.

Three special elections for U.S. House seats were held in 2019 and 32 such elections were held from 2013-2018. Three U.S. House special elections resulted in a change of partisan control since 2013.

Forty-two percent of Brew readers who responded to last week’s survey say they’ve attended a political debate in person

The DNC held its fifth presidential primary debate last week, which prompted us to ask how many readers had ever attended a political debate in person. The question asked people to answer ‘yes’ if they’d been to a debate involving candidates at any level of government. And I specifically said it didn’t matter whether questions were asked by moderators—in a more traditional debate— or by attendees—in what’s known as a town hall format.

The results were interesting as 42% of Brew readers who responded said they had attended a political debate in person. Thanks so much for your responses!What's the tea results




About the author

Dave Beaudoin

Dave Beaudoin is a project director at Ballotpedia and can be reached at dave.beaudoin@ballotpedia.org

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