Memorandum to Interested Persons
You or your organization may be interested in one or more of the initiative petitions submitted to the Attorney General for certification pursuant to Amendment Article 48 of the Massachusetts Constitution.
The Attorney General is required to determine whether the proposed measure meets certain constitutional requirements - in particular, whether the measure addresses any subjects that the Constitution excludes from the initiative process. If the measure is certified, the Attorney General also prepares a fair, concise summary of the measure to appear on petitions for gathering additional signatures and on the ballot. This process will be completed by the first Wednesday in September.
You are invited to participate in this process in either or both of the following ways:
- Submitting a memorandum of law by the Friday nine days after the petition-filing deadline, setting forth any legal reasons why the Attorney General should or should not certify the measure as conforming to Amendment Article 48. Submissions must specifically address the legal requirements of Amendment Article 48; memoranda arguing against certification on non-legal or policy grounds will not be considered. Joint submissions by one or more organizations are encouraged; separate submissions making the same points are unnecessary. You may also submit a proposed summary of the measure by the Friday nine days after the petition-filing deadline.
- Reviewing and commenting upon a draft summary of the measure, to be circulated by this office later in August. The Attorney General must prepare a fair, concise summary for each measure that is certified; comments on the fairness of the draft summary are welcome.
Even if you or your organization does not wish to participate, we encourage you to circulate this material promptly to other persons or organizations that may be interested. As noted above, joint submissions are welcome; cumulative or repetitive submissions are unnecessary.
If you choose to submit a memorandum or draft summary, you must simultaneously send a copy to the proponents' contact person, and attorney if any, whose names are listed on the Initiative Petition Information Sheet attached to the petition. All memos will be available to interested members of the public. Electronic submissions are encouraged; please email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Electronic copies of the text of each petition and the names and addresses of its signers are available on the Current Petitions Filed section of this website, and, if necessary, by email. These electronic copies do not include actual signatures or the voter registration certificates filed with each petition. If you are unable to access the electronic copy, or if you are interested in inspecting an original, signed petition and/or the accompanying voter registration certificates, please contact us.
If you wish to participate in any way, please fill out and return the Participant Form as indicated on the form. If you have any questions, please call Assistant Attorney General Peter Sacks at (617) 727-2200, ext. 2064. Download and view the Participant Form:
Apart from the legal review process described above, 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. 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 email@example.com.
Note: The Office of Campaign and Political Finance (OCPF) advises that contributions and expenditures made by any corporation, organization, association, or other group of persons (hereafter "organization") for the purpose of promoting or opposing a potential ballot question are subject to the provisions of the campaign finance laws, M.G.L. c. 55.
Any organization soliciting or receiving contributions for such a purpose must register as a political committee with OCPF. Any organization which makes expenditures only for such a purpose must still report these expenditures to OCPF. In addition, any person who makes an expenditure of $250 or more for such purpose, other than a contribution to a ballot question committee, is also subject to disclosure provisions in the campaign finance law.
If an organization only raises funds or makes expenditures, however, for certain limited purposes such as challenging the certification of a ballot question, the organization would not be required to report to OCPF.
For more information, refer to OCPF's Campaign Finance Guide for Ballot Question Committees, and Interpretive Bulletins 88-01 and 90-02; call OCPF at (617) 979-8300 or (800) 462-OCPF; or visit the OCPF website.