Tagmassachusetts

Stories about Massachusetts

Special elections being held in two Massachusetts House districts

Special elections are being held on June 2 for the Thirty-seventh Middlesex District and Third Bristol District of the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The special elections were originally scheduled on March 31 but were moved to June 2 amid concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. Primaries were held on March 3. The filing deadline for candidates was January 21.

• Danillo Sena (D) and Catherine Clark (R) are running for the Thirty-seventh Middlesex District. The seat became vacant on January 8, when Jennifer Benson (D) resigned to take a job as president of the Alliance for Business Leadership. Benson had represented the district since 2009.
• Carol Doherty (D) and Kelly Dooner (R) are running for the Third Bristol District. The seat became vacant after Representative Shaunna O’Connell (R) resigned on January 6, after being elected mayor of Taunton, Massachusetts. O’Connell had represented the district since 2011.

Heading into the special elections, Democrats have a 125-31 majority in the Massachusetts House with one independent member and three vacancies. Massachusetts has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Special elections were held on May 19 for the Second Hampden & Hampshire District and Plymouth & Barnstable District of the Massachusetts State Senate. Both seats flipped from Republican control to Democratic control as a result of the special elections. Four seats have flipped as a result of state legislative special elections this year.

As of May, 43 state legislative special elections have been scheduled for 2020 in 20 states. Between 2011 and 2019, an average of 77 special elections took place each year.

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Massachusetts governor to detail reopening plan

At a press conference scheduled for 11:00 a.m. Eastern, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is expected to provide further information about the state’s reopening plan. The state’s stay-at-home order is set to expire today.

Last Monday, Baker unveiled a four-phase plan for reopening Massachusetts. Under Phase 1 (“Start”), limited industries will be permitted to reopen, subject to restrictions. In Phase 2 (“Cautious”), additional industries will be permitted to reopen, subject to restrictions and capacity limits. Under Phase 3 (“Vigilant”), more industries will be allowed to reopen, subject to guidance. In phase 4 (“New Normal”), which is contingent on the development of a vaccine and/or therapeutic treatment, normal activities may resume. The plan did not elaborate on specific effective dates or contingencies for phases 1, 2, or 3.

Massachusetts is one of six states that have yet to begin implementing a reopening plan. The others are Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, Illinois, and South Dakota. The remaining 44 states have partially or completely lifted restrictions on three or more industries.



Deadline passes for Massachusetts candidates to file nomination petitions with local officials

On May 5, the local filing deadline passed to run for statewide elected offices in Massachusetts. Candidates filed for the following offices:

  • One U.S. Senate seat
  • Nine U.S. House seats
  • Eight seats on the Massachusetts Governor’s Council
  • All 40 seats in the Massachusetts State Senate
  • All 160 seats in the Massachusetts House of Representatives

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in Suffolk County.

To appear on the ballot in Massachusetts, prospective candidates must submit nomination papers for certification to the registrars of the cities or towns in which signatures were collected and to the Secretary of the Commonwealth. The local filing deadline must occur four weeks prior to the candidate’s second filing deadline with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. In 2020, the local-level filing deadline was May 5, and the state-level filing deadline is June 2.

The primary is scheduled for September 1, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Massachusetts’ statewide filing deadline was the 37th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on May 8 in Michigan.

Massachusetts has a divided government, with no trifecta status for either major party. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

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Massachusetts becomes the first state to allow electronic signatures for 2020 ballot initiative petitions

On April 26, the campaigns sponsoring the Massachusetts “Right to Repair” Initiative, the Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative, the Nursing Homes Medicaid Ratemaking Initiative, and the Beer and Wine in Food Stores Initiative filed a joint lawsuit against Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin asking the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to allow the campaigns to gather the second round of 13,347 signatures electronically.

On April 29, all four active ballot initiative campaigns and Secretary Galvin agreed to a resolution that allows the campaigns to gather the second round of signatures electronically. The resolution allows campaigns to distribute the petitions online to be electronically signed or printed and mailed or emailed back to the respective campaign.

Justice Barbara Lenk, who issued the judgment, determined that typed names would not be considered valid signatures. The judgment stated, “Voters who wish to sign the Form online shall apply an electronic signature with a computer mouse, stylus, or finger, in-person directly on the Form. A typewritten name, uploaded image, or computer-generated generic signature shall not be considered a genuine signature of a voter.”

In Massachusetts, citizens may propose initiated state statutes and initiated constitutional amendments. The power of initiative is indirect in Massachusetts, which means the Massachusetts General Court must consider any initiative petitions that meet the first-round signature deadline and requirement (80,239 for 2020). The deadline for the Massachusetts General Court to act on the petitions is May 5. If a statute proposed by a valid initiative petition is not adopted, proponents must collect by July 1 another smaller round of 13,347 signatures to place the statute on the ballot. Four initiative campaigns submitted enough signatures to qualify their measures for review by the state legislature. The petitioners did not seek relief from the number of signatures required or the July 1 deadline because those requirements are determined by the state Constitution.

Ballot initiative sponsors in Arkansas, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Ohio, and Oklahoma have also filed lawsuits seeking relief from signature deadlines and requirements due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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Local candidate filing deadline to end in Massachusetts May 5

The local filing deadline to run for elected office in Massachusetts is on May 5, 2020. In Massachusetts, candidates must file their collected nomination signatures with local election entities four weeks before filing with the Secretary of the Commonwealth. In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an order that reduced candidate petition signature requirements to 50 percent of their statutory requirements. Prospective candidates may file for the following offices:

  • U.S. Senate (1 seat)
  • U.S. House (9 seats)
  • Governor’s Council (8 seats)
  • Massachusetts State Senate (40 seats)
  • Massachusetts House of Representatives (160 seats)

The primary is scheduled for September 1, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020. Candidates who filed with their local election entities must also file with the Secretary of the Commonwealth by June 2, 2020.

Massachusetts’ statewide filing deadline is the 37th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on May 8 in Michigan.

Massachusetts has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

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Massachusetts ballot initiative campaigns file a joint lawsuit seeking permission to gather signatures electronically

On April 26, the campaigns sponsoring the Massachusetts “Right to Repair” Initiative, the Ranked-Choice Voting Initiative, the Nursing Homes Medicaid Ratemaking Initiative, and the Beer and Wine in Food Stores Initiative filed a joint lawsuit against Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin asking the Supreme Judicial Court to allow the campaigns to gather the second round of 13,347 signatures electronically.

Petitioners argued, “Without immediate relief from this Court, Petitioners and all other ballot proponents similarly situated will face an unduly burdensome Catch-22: either risk their health and the health of voters to satisfy unjustifiable and unachievable ballot restrictions and participate in democracy or protect their health and give up their fundamental right to access the ballot.” The petitioners could not seek relief from the number of signatures required or the July 1 deadline because they are determined by the state Constitution.

In Massachusetts, citizens may propose initiated state statutes and initiated constitutional amendments. The power of initiative is indirect in Massachusetts, which means the Massachusetts General Court must consider any successful initiative proposals. The deadline for the Massachusetts General Court to act on the petitions is May 5. If a statute proposed by a valid initiative petition is not adopted, proponents must collect by July 1 another smaller round of 13,347 signatures to place the statute on the ballot.

On April 17, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reduced the number of signatures needed by half, allowed some use of electronic signature gathering for certain offices, and extended the deadline to May 5 for candidates seeking to appear on the September 1 primary ballot.

Assistant Attorney General Anne Sterman wrote a response to the ballot initiative lawsuit on behalf of Secretary Galvin stating that the Secretary was working to negotiate with the campaigns and believed the Court should not grant the petitioners more relief than was offered to the primary candidates.

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Massachusetts extends business closure and stay-at-home advisory

At a press conference on April 28, 2020, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced he was extending his order closing nonessential businesses and advising people to stay home through May 18. The order, which closed nonessential businesses and limited gatherings to no more than 10 people, was set to expire on May 4.

Baker announced that a new reopening advisory board, led by Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito, would begin to put together a phased reopening plan for the state.

Ballotpedia is providing comprehensive coverage on how the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is affecting America’s political and civic life. Our coverage includes how federal, state, and local governments are responding, and the effects those responses are having on campaigns and elections.



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