Limited Taxation
Post Office Box 408     Peabody, Massachusetts   01960     (508) 384-0100
E-Mail:       Web-page:

CLT Update
Tuesday, November 2, 1999


Only 15 days remain to make any difference whatsoever in the outcome of this petition drive. In two weeks and a day there will be nothing you can do at all to roll back your income tax and keep the promise still being broken by a greedy Legislature and especially its disingenuous leaders.

Overconfidence did us in by a mere 26 signatures in 1997-98. After the fact, so many moaned at the skin-of-our-teeth loss and recognized that they could have made the difference, they could have done a little bit more -- or even a little bit at all and they could have changed the outcome. But their realization came too late to help.

In another two weeks such a revelation will again be just as late and just as useless. This time, we are not interested in hearing any guilt-fed recriminations. This time you know what can happen, and you know what to do to prevent it.

Overconfidence is a killer, and it is stalking us again.

The following e-mail message was received over the weekend by one of our volunteers, who forwarded it to us wondering if it could be true.

"The Tax Cut Petition Drive is going great. To date we have eclipsed the number of signatures needed to place the question on the ballot, and we will surely reach our goal of 110,000 collected signatures."

Barbara quickly responded:

"We just learned Friday that another petition group turned in a sample 12,000 signatures to the Secretary of State, and lost 40 percent of them: the usual 20 percent from the city/town clerks for non-registered voters, illegibles, etc., and another 20 percent from the Secretary, mostly for markings.

That means that even if we did have 120,000 to turn in, we could drop to around 70,000, which is not enough to discourage a challenge and might not be enough to win one.

Anyone who is overconfident at this point is an idiot, and you can quote me.

Barbara Anderson

This is why it is far, far too soon to declare victory, and why every single signature you can contribute to the drive will be critically essential to the drive's success.

What that overconfident rookie failed to recognize is, in a petition drive, it ain't over 'till it's over, and these days, it ain't over until we win or ward off the inevitable legal challenges ahead.

If you need further motivation to act while there is still time for it to mean something, read the story from today's Boston Globe, below.

CFord-Sig2.gif (4854 bytes)

Chip Ford

Had enough yet?

Had enough yet? If so, now you can actually do something about your own political and financial survival!

If you haven't requested your petition package yet, you've got only 15 days left before the absolute deadline! Click below while you still have time to save yourself from rapacious greed and limitless self-interest -- or you have nobody to blame for it but yourself!

Get your petition package -- while there is still time!

As always, thanks to those of you already with us who are out there practicing the only means of political self-defense remaining, collecting signatures for the initiative petition process.

The Boston Globe
Tuesday, November 2, 1999

Petition bids face tougher scrutiny
Ruling has invalidated thousands of signatures

By Michael Rezendes
Globe Staff

Citizens groups fanning out across the state to gather signatures to put questions before voters next year may have a tough time getting them on the ballot, Secretary of State William F. Galvin said yesterday.

A July decision by the Supreme Judicial Court that said any stray pen marks on petition sheets invalidate entire pages of signatures has already caused Galvin to toss out more than 2,000 signatures for a ballot question on drug treatment.

If that trend holds, Galvin said, it could spell trouble for proposed questions ranging from an income tax cut to an initiative for patient bill of rights.

"My problem is we have citizens who are absolutely certified to exercise their rights but are having their signatures disqualified because something happened to the paper they signed," Galvin said. "It's very troubling because it undercuts the whole initiative process."

With a crucial deadline looming, Galvin said other groups are likely to fail to gain a spot on the ballot unless they gather significantly more than the 57,100 signatures required by law.

"In practical terms they're all going to have to get a surplus far beyond the requirement," Galvin said.

Under state law, petitioners are required to submit signatures to city and town officials by Nov. 17 - Nov. 22 in Boston. The clerks scan the lists to make sure the signers are registered voters at valid addresses. By Dec. 1, the signatures must be forwarded to the secretary of state's office, where they are scrutinized under the new SJC ruling.

The SJC decision and the resulting disqualification of thousands of signatures is being decried by citizen activists, who believe it discourages grass-roots groups from participating in government.

Barbara Anderson of Citizens for Limited Taxation, which has joined forces with Governor Paul Cellucci in gathering signatures for a state income tax rollback, said the decision will encourage ballot-question opponents to challenge signatures in hopes of avoiding statewide political campaigns.

"The tactic now is to challenge the process itself instead of fighting an honest battle on the issues," Anderson said.

Meanwhile yesterday, a school-choice group on the losing end of the SJC's July ruling said it is preparing to appeal to the US Supreme Court, even as it collects signatures for a 2000 ballot initiative that would remove the state constitutional prohibition against public aid to private and parochial schools.

"The court has taken a principle that might apply to the sanctity of the ballot box and applied it to the reality of gathering signatures at the local mall," said Cornelius Chapman of the Committee for Parental Choice in Education. "If you have someone trying to get their pen working or spilling some of their Orange Julius, you're screwed."

But officials with the Massachusetts Teachers Association, which blocked an income tax rollback initiative two years ago by questioning proponents' signatures, said challenges to voter petitions are part of the democratic process.

"If anyone files invalid signatures on an issue that's harmful to public school children or public education, we're going to challenge them," said MTA president Stephen Gorrie. "I don't think there's anything underhanded about that."

In its unanimous ruling, the SJC said state law "does not permit any alterations of forms whether by copying machine, petition circulator or petition signer."

Under the ruling, Galvin's office has had to disqualify otherwise valid signatures because a signer scribbled at the top of a page to get a ballpoint pen working. Others were disqualified because of colorful errant marks -- perhaps made by a child -- from a felt tip pen.

Galvin hasn't disqualified any signatures because of food or beverage stains but said petitions with these markings are open to challenge under the recent ruling.

"If it's a close call we'll be making it in favor of the voters, but we've also got to abide by the law," Galvin said.

Galvin also warned that citizens groups gathering signatures today at polling places for municipal elections could face additional trouble if they fail to meet a requirement that they stay at least 150 feet from the polls.

NOTE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this material is distributed without profit or payment to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving this information for non-profit research and educational purposes only. For more information go to:

Return to CLT Updates page