Monday, May 6, 2019

What is the process for a Prop 2 1/2 ballot question?

Inquiring minds might ask "How do we avoid letting so many teachers go and raise school fees?" The town budget is balanced to meet expected revenue. The only way to increase the expected revenue is for the majority of the voters to agree to do so. 

Proposition 2½ questions are placed on an election ballot by vote of the "local
appropriating body," which is defined in towns as the selectboard, not town meeting. In
towns without selectboards, a vote of the town council is required to present a question to
the electorate. In cities, a vote of the city council, with the mayor's approval where
required by law, is needed. G.L. c. 59, § 21C(a).

This is the only way an override or exclusion question may be placed on the ballot. They
may not be placed on the ballot by a town meeting vote or any local initiative procedure
authorized by law. A local initiative procedure, however, may be used as an alternative
method of placing an underride question on the ballot.

The board or council must vote the question exactly as it will appear on the ballot.

Proposition 2½ questions may be placed on a regular or special municipal election ballot.

Questions may also be placed on the state biennial election ballot. However, those
questions must be submitted to the Secretary of State for certification by the first
Wednesday in August preceding the election. G.L. c. 59, § 21C(i).

The usual laws and procedures relating to municipal elections apply. The municipal clerk
must receive written notice of the question being placed on the ballot at least 35 days
before the date of the election. G.L. c. 54, § 42C. The vote to place a question on the
ballot must take place in sufficient time to meet this advance notice requirement.

A city or town may present Proposition 2½ questions to the voters as many times during
the year as it chooses. The only constraint on the interval between these elections is the
time needed to call and hold each election.

The Office of the Secretary of State is responsible for administering and enforcing
election laws. Specific questions about the application of these laws to Proposition 2½
elections should be directed to the Elections Division of that office at 617-727-2828."

Additional info on the process can be found in the Division of Local Services (DLS) bulletin which is part of the MA Dept of Revenue (DOR).

DOR also has a series of short videos to explain the process

What is the process for a Prop 2 1/2 ballot question?
What is the process for a Prop 2 1/2 ballot question?

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