I've been trying to see the exact mechanisms Massachusetts has used to ratify or attempt to ratify proposed amendments to the U.S. constitution. The closest info I have found to that end pertains only to amendments to the state constitution of Massachusetts.

The linked source states that all amendments to the Massachusetts constitution require a ballot question:

A constitutional amendment must always be adopted by the people of Massachusetts, and this is done through a ballot question.

There is no indication as to whether it is the same mechanism for ratifying proposed amendments to the U.S. constitution.

Therefore, my question is:

What is the exact process by which Massachusetts ratifies proposed federal amendments to the U.S. constitution?

2 Answers 2


Ratification is done by a resolution passed by both the House and Senate of the General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

For example, on August 22nd 1960, the Senate Journal notes:

The House Resolutions ratifying the proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States granting representation in the Electoral College to the District of Columbia (House, No. 3276), — were adopted, in concurrence. (source page 1296)

(it is sandwiched between a resolution recognising Florence Gandolfo as a notary public, and a Senate bill providing for "workmen’s compensation benefits to managers of municipal lighting plants")

No roll-call vote is mentioned, which suggests that this was ratified by a unanimous voice vote.

This act (which followed a similar vote in the House) was sufficient for the constitutional amendment to be judged to have been ratified by Massachusetts. No referendum or ballot question was necessary.


There are two modes for ratification: legislature or convention. The Twenty-First Amendment, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment, was by convention.

Ratification by the legislature is by resolution. If a majority of each of the state's legislative chambers votes in favor, the amendment is ratified.

Ratification by convention requires additional steps.

In the case of Massachusetts, for the Twenty-First Amendment, a resolution was passed on April 20, 1933, creating forty-five districts for the election of delegates from among three candidates per district. The candidates were selected by government officials, including the governor, lieutenant governor, etc.

On the ballots, each candidate's name was followed by an indication of whether they were for or against repeal. The people voted. The delegates met in convention.

Ratification of an amendment by convention, never having been done before, different states chose different means for holding the convention.

The principal difference in procedure lay in the selection or omission of various committees. Some of the conventions-for example, in Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Utah-appointed committees. Others did not. When a motion was made in the Massachusetts convention to authorize the chairman to appoint committees on rules, elections, and resolutions, Delegate Charles F. Ely demurred on the ground that the delegates knew they had been elected and for what purpose. He said he failed to see why it was necessary to have the committees at all. There being no opposition, the committees were dispensed with and the delegates without debate voted to ratify the proposed amendment.

The final vote was 45-0 for ratification.

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