Initiative petitions that have met initial requirements are filed with the Office of the Attorney General. The Attorney General must review and certify each petition in order for it to move through the rest of the process. The Attorney General's Office also prepares a fair and concise summary for each petition. For a detailed overview of the whole initiative petition process see Initiative Petition Process, 2015-2016
Filing a Petition
The first step in the process leading to the 2016 ballot (for laws) or the 2018 ballot (for constitutional amendments) is for ten voters to sign a petition containing the proposed law or constitutional amendment and to file it with the Attorney General by August 5, 2015. (It is also possible, though unusual, to file a petition by August 3, 2016, for a law intended for the 2018 ballot or a constitutional amendment intended for the 2020 ballot.) For detailed information on filing an initiative petition see Initiative Petition Filing Instructions.
AGO Review and Certification
The Attorney General must review all petitions filed to determine whether they meet certain constitutional requirements - including, in particular, whether a petition addresses any subjects that the Constitution excludes from the initiative process. The Attorney General's review process for petitions filed by August 5, 2015, will be completed by September 2, 2015. For information about how to have input into the review process, please see Public Participation in Initiative Petition Review.
If the petition is certified as meeting the constitutional requirements, the Attorney General also prepares a fair, concise summary of the proposed law (or constitutional amendment) to appear on petitions for gathering additional signatures and on the ballot.
Current Petitions Filed
To see a list of petitions filed by the August 5, 2015, deadline, the text of each petition, summaries of certified petitions, and explanatory letters responding to legal issues raised by members of the public regarding some petitions, see Current Petitions Filed.. Please contact the Attorney General’s Office to obtain materials relating to petitions filed by the August 3, 2016 deadline.
Voter Information Materials
If a petition, as of April of an even-numbered year, remains eligible to appear on the November ballot, G.L. c. 54, § 53, requires the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Commonwealth to jointly prepare certain voter information materials. These are (1) a “ballot question title” --a short title that appears in the Information for Voters Guide published by the Secretary -- and (2) “fair and neutral one sentence statements describing the effect of a yes or no vote” -- which appear in the Guide and on the November ballot. Drafting of these materials ordinarily begins by April 1 and is complete later in April. Interested parties’ comments are welcomed on drafts prepared by the Attorney General and Secretary. For more information or to participate in the process, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.