State Ballot Question Petitions

A Guide for Circulating Petitions

The Massachusetts Constitution provides that people have the right to affect the state laws by which they are governed. One way for persons to affect the laws is through the use of a petition for a ballot question. In Massachusetts, there are four types of petitions which may be used to place questions on the ballot at the biennial state election: an Initiative Petition for a Law, an Initiative Petition for a Constitutional Amendment, a Referendum Petition, and a Public Policy Petition.

File an INITIATIVE PETITION FOR A LAW to submit a proposed law to the voters for their approval or rejection or to repeal or amend a particular section of an existing law.

File an INITIATIVE PETITION FOR A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT to submit a proposed constitutional amendment to the voters for approval or rejection.

File a REFERENDUM PETITION to have a law already enacted by the General Court repealed by the voters.

File a PUBLIC POLICY PETITION to submit instructions to the senator or representative from a district on a non-binding question of public policy.

Before collecting any signatures, read all of the instructions carefully. In
addition, it may be helpful to seek assistance when writing the text of the measure to be placed on the petitions.