Massachusetts ballot initiative campaigns related to education, psychedelics, tipped workers, app-based drivers, and state auditor responsibilities filed signatures with local clerks for the 2024 ballot.
The deadline to file signatures with local clerks in order to qualify for the 2024 ballot was Nov. 22. Several campaigns related to education, psychedelics, tipped workers, app-based drivers, and state auditor responsibilities reported filing signatures for verification. Once verified, at least 74,574 valid signatures must be filed with the secretary of state by Dec. 6 in order for the ballot initiative to be considered by the state legislature in 2024.
Initiated state statutes are indirect in Massachusetts meaning they are considered for adoption by the state legislature, but if they are not adopted by the first Wednesday in May of the election year, proponents must collect an additional round of signatures to qualify for the general election ballot.
The initiatives were cleared for circulation by the state attorney general on Sept. 6, 2023.
The Massachusetts Teachers Association submitted over 130,000 signatures for a ballot initiative that would repeal the requirement that students must achieve a certain competency level on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exam to graduate high school.
The campaign behind an initiative to regulate access to psychedelic substances also reported submitting more than the required number of signatures to local clerks. New Approach PAC, which was the largest donor to a 2020 Oregon ballot initiative that created a program to permit licensed service providers to administer psilocybin products to individuals 21 years of age or older, is supporting the Massachusetts initiative.
Proponents behind a ballot initiative that would increase the wage of tipped employees until it meets the state minimum wage in 2029 and would permit tipping in addition to the minimum wage also filed signatures. Currently, the base wage for tipped workers in Massachusetts is $6.75, but the law requires that with tips workers must make $15 per hour.
Massachusetts might also see two ballot questions on the ballot regarding labor policies that regulate app-based drivers. Uber and Lyft filed signatures for an initiative that would classify app-based drivers as independent contractors and enact related labor policies. The companies sponsored a similar 2022 ballot initiative that was disqualified from the ballot by the state supreme court. SEIU Local 32BJ filed signatures for another measure that would authorize app-based drivers to unionize and engage in collective bargaining over work conditions and compensation. The Massachusetts Constitution provides that in the event that two conflicting measures are approved, the measure with the most affirmative votes supersedes the other on any points of conflict—the other measure is not wholly superseded.
Massachusetts State Auditor Diana DiZoglio (D) is sponsoring a ballot initiative to authorize the state auditor to audit the state legislature and remove some existing regulations regarding the auditing process. The campaign reported submitting over 100,000 signatures to local clerks.
Between 2010 and 2022, an average of 29 ballot initiatives were filed with an average of three measures ultimately qualifying for the ballot. Fifty-two (52) ballot initiatives were filed for the 2024 ballot—the most over the last six election cycles. Six reported meeting the first signature deadline on Nov. 22.
The total number of signatures required for indirect initiated state statutes is equal to 3.5% of the votes cast in the last gubernatorial election collected in two rounds. 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.