In Massachusetts, the initiative filing deadline for the 2024 ballot was Aug. 3. Initiative sponsors filed 52 measures (49 initiated state statutes and three initiated constitutional amendments) by the deadline—the most filed over the last six election cycles. The average number of initiatives filed between 2012 and 2022 was 29. An average of three initiatives made the ballot.
Sponsors filed 11 state statutes and three constitutional amendments between 2020 and 2022 for the 2024 ballot. Five were approved to circulate, but none submitted signatures by the first deadline on Dec. 7, 2022, and therefore will not qualify for the 2024 ballot.
In 2023, sponsors filed 38 state statutes by the Aug. 3 deadline. The Massachusetts initiative process requires the attorney general to report by the first Wednesday in September (Sept. 6, 2023) which initiatives meet the statutory and constitutional requirements and are cleared for signature gathering.
The topics of the 38 potential measures include graduation requirements for high school students, an exemption from the state gas tax, top-five ranked-choice voting, same-day voter registration, classifying app-based drivers as contractors, and access to psychedelic substances.
Uber and Lyft filed nine different versions of an initiative to classify app-based drivers as contractors after their 2022 attempt was disqualified from the ballot by the state supreme court which ruled that the initiative violated the state’s related subjects requirement.
Sponsors behind an initiative to require photo identification to vote filed eight versions of the measure. Currently, Massachusetts does not require voters to present identification (ID) while voting, unless the voter is:
- voting for the first time in Massachusetts in a federal election;
- An inactive voter;
- Casting a provisional or challenged ballot; or
- Requested to present identification by a poll worker.
In Massachusetts, citizens have the power to indirectly initiate constitutional amendments and state statutes and initiated veto referendums. These powers were established with voter approval of a ballot measure in 1918. Indirect initiatives are considered by the state legislature, which can approve state statutes outright, take no action and send the amendment or statute to the ballot, amend the initiated amendment with a 75% vote of the state legislature, or propose an alternative alongside the initiated amendment.
For indirect initiated state statutes, sponsors must collect signatures equal to 3.5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election in two rounds. For indirect constitutional amendments, the number of signatures required is equal to 3% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election. Massachusetts also has a distribution requirement that requires no more than 25% of the certified signatures on any petition can come from a single county.
Additional reading: Types of ballot measures in Massachusetts