OCPF Municipal Ballot Guidelines

Municipal ballot question committees are organized to support or oppose questions locally. A ballot question committee should be formed if two or more individuals or entities pool resources to support or oppose a ballot question.

This is a checklist for starting and maintaining a municipal-level ballot question committee.

  1. GET STARTED: Organize with this form, M101 BQ. The form is filed with the local election official (usually a city or town clerk). The ballot question committee will need a treasurer and a chair. The treasurer can also be the chair, but cannot be an appointed public employee.

  2. Open a standard checking account to deposit contributions. You will need an EIN from the IRS to open a bank account. 
    Prior to conducting any activity, please watch this 4-minute tutorial

  3. Ballot question committees may receive unlimited amounts of money from individuals, entities, committees and other organizations. Limits chart.

  4. Deposit contributions into the committee bank account and track the names and address of each donor. If a contribution is $200 or more, and provided by an individual, his or her occupation and employer is also required.

  5. Ballot question committees may receive money from corporations, LLCs, LLPs, S-Corps and partnerships.

  6. Ballot question committees may not contribute to candidates.

  7. Ballot question committees may make expenditures to support the purpose for which it was formed. For example, advertisements, mailings and signs to support or oppose a question are permitted. A clear "purpose" for an expenditure is required. Example: "Hall rental for campaign kickoff."

  8. Reporting: Reports are filed on a periodic schedule, eight days before an election and 30 days afterward, in towns (M102 form). In cities, reports are due eight days before an election, and, if a special election, 30 days afterward. Year-end reports are also filed in cities and towns, for active ballot question committees. Year-end reports are due each Jan. 20.

  9. Reports are filed on paper with local election officials, disclosing receipts, expenditures, in-kind contributions and liabilities.

  10. Recommendation: Make expenditures by committee check or committee debit card.

  11. Ballot question committees may need to file subvendor reports, if the committee pays a vendor $5,000 or more in the year, and the vendor makes expenditures of $500 or more on behalf of the committee.

  12. Some ballot question committee communications require disclaimers. Please see this guide.

  13. When the question is decided by the voters, the ballot question committee should begin to dissolve. To dissolve, the committee can pay its debts, and then donate the remaining balance to charity, a scholarship fund, a municipality or the state.

  14. Dark Money: The campaign finance law prohibits disguising the true source of funds. For example, a donor should not contribute money to a non-profit organization for the purpose of those funds then being donated to a ballot question committee, disguising the true source of the funds.  

Please e-mail OCPF for additional guidance: ocpf@mass.gov

Last updated 11/10/2022