Section 7-1 -TOWN ELECTIONS
Section 7-2 -PRELIMINARY ELECTION
Section 7-3 -BALLOT POSITION
Section 7-4 -PRECINCTS
Section 7-5 -APPLICATION OF STATE GENERAL LAWS
Section 7-6 -PETITIONS TO COUNCIL OR SCHOOL COMMITTEE
Section 7-7 -CITIZEN INITIATIVE MEASURES
Section 7-8 -CITIZEN REFERENDUM PROCEDURES
Section 7-9 -INELIGIBLE MEASURES
Section 7-10 -SUBMISSION OF OTHER MATTERS TO VOTERS
Section 7-11 -CONFLICTING PROVISIONS
Section 7-12 -RECALL ELECTIONS
ELECTIONS; ELECTION RELATED MATTERS
SECTION 7-1: TOWN ELECTIONS
The regular Town election shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November on years ending in an odd number. All Town elections shall be nonpartisan and no party mark, emblem or other designation shall appear on any ballot used at a preliminary or general election for Town offices.
SECTION 7-2: PRELIMINARY ELECTION
(a) A Preliminary Election shall be held not less than six (6) weeks prior to the general election on a Tuesday chosen by the Town Clerk, with the approval of the Town Council, so as to not conflict with any civil or religious holidays.
(b) Signature Requirements - The number of signatures of voters required to place the name of a candidate on the official ballot to be used at a preliminary election shall be as follows: for the office of Mayor not less than one hundred (100) such signatures, provided, however, that not more than twenty-five (25) signatures from any one precinct shall be counted in the minimum number of required signatures; for the office of Councilor-at-Large or School Committee member, not less than one hundred (100) such signatures, provided, however, that not more than twenty-five (25) signatures from any one (1) precinct shall be counted in the minimum number of required signatures; for the office of Precinct Councilor not less than fifty (50) such signatures, all of which shall be from the precinct from which the nomination is sought; and for the office of assessor, not less than 100 signatures, provided, however, that not more than 25 signatures from any 1 precinct shall be counted in the minimum number of required signatures. All other elected officials shall be required to obtain not less than 25 signatures to place the official’s name on the ballot.
(c) Ballot Position - The order in which names of candidates appear on the ballot for each office shall be determined by a drawing, by lot, conducted by the Town Clerk, which shall be open to the public.
(d) Determination of Candidates - The two (2) persons receiving at a preliminary election the highest number of votes for nomination for any office shall be the sole candidates for that office whose names shall be printed on the official ballots to be used at the regular general Town election at which such office is to be voted upon, and no acceptance of a nomination shall be necessary to validate same. If two (2) or more persons are to be elected to the same office at such regular election, the several persons, in number equal to twice the number so to be elected, receiving at such preliminary election the highest number of votes for nomination for that office shall be the sole candidates for that office whose names shall be printed on the official ballots.
If the preliminary election results in a tie vote among candidates for nomination receiving the lowest number of votes which, but for said tie vote, would entitle a person receiving the same to have their name printed on the official ballots for the election, all candidates participating in said tie vote shall have their names printed on the official ballots, although in consequence thereof there be printed on such ballots the names of candidates exceeding twice the number to be elected.
(e) Condition Making Preliminary Unnecessary - If at the expiration of time for filing statements of candidates to be voted upon at any preliminary election not more than twice as many such statements have been filed with the Town Clerk for an office as candidates are to be elected to such office, the candidates whose statements have been filed with the Town Clerk shall be deemed to have been nominated to such office, and their names shall be voted upon for such office at the succeeding general election, and the Town Clerk shall not print their names on the ballots to be used at said preliminary election and no other nomination to such office shall be made. If in consequence it shall appear that no names are to be printed upon the official ballots to be used in any particular precinct or precincts of the Town, no preliminary election shall be held in such precinct or precincts.
SECTION 7-3: BALLOT POSITION
The order in which names of candidates appear on the ballot for each office at the preliminary and general election shall be determined by a drawing, by lot, conducted by the Town Clerk which shall be open to the public.
SECTION 7-4: PRECINCTS
The territory of the Town shall be divided into nine (9) precincts so established as to consist of as nearly an equal number of inhabitants in each precinct as is possible, in compact and contiguous territory, bounded insofar as possible by the center line of known streets or ways or by other well-defined limits. The Town Council shall from time to time, but at least once in each ten (10) years, review such precincts to insure their uniformity in number of inhabitants.
SECTION 7-5: APPLICATION OF STATE GENERAL LAWS
Except as expressly provided in this Charter and authorized by law, all Town elections shall be governed by the General Laws of the commonwealth relating to the right to vote, the registration of voters, the nomination of candidates, the conduct of preliminary, general and special elections, the submission of Charters, Charter amendments and other propositions to the voters, the counting of votes, the recounting of votes, and the determination of results.
SECTION 7-6: PETITIONS TO COUNCIL OR SCHOOL COMMITTEE
(a) Individual Petitions, Action Discretionary - The Town Council and the School Committee shall receive all petitions, signed by one (1) or more voters, which are addressed to either of them and may, in their discretion, take such action in regard to each such petition as may be deemed necessary and advisable.
(b) Group Petitions, Action Required - The Town Council or the School Committee shall hold a public hearing and act with respect to every petition which is addressed to it, which is signed by one hundred (100) voters, or more, and which seeks the passage of a measure. The hearing shall be held by the Town Council or the School Committee, or, in either case, by a committee or subcommittee thereof, and the action by the Town Council or the School Committee shall be taken not later than three (3) months after the petition is filed with the Clerk of the Council or the secretary of the School Committee as may be appropriate. Hearings on two (2) or more petitions filed under this section may be held on the same date and at the same time and place. The Clerk of the Council or the secretary of the School Committee shall mail notice of the hearing to the ten (10) persons whose names appear first on the petition at least forty-eight (48) hours before the hearing. Notice, by publication in a local newspaper not less than seven (7), nor more than fourteen (14) days prior to the date set for the public hearing, shall be at public expense.
SECTION 7-7: CITIZEN INITIATIVE MEASURES
(a) Commencement - Initiative procedures shall be started by the filing of a proposed initiative petition with the Town Clerk. The petition shall be addressed to the Town Council or to the School Committee, shall contain a request for the passage of a particular measure which shall be set forth in full in the petition, and shall be signed by not less than ten (10) voters of the Town. The petition shall be accompanied by an affidavit signed by five (5) voters and containing their residential address, stating they will constitute the petitioners committee and be responsible for circulating the petition and filing it in proper form and shall indicate which member shall serve as clerk of the petitioners committee.
(b) Referral to Town Attorney - The Town Clerk shall, following receipt of each such proposed petition, deliver a copy of the petition to the Town Attorney. The Town Attorney shall, not later than fifteen days after receipt of a copy of the petition, in writing, advise the Town Council or the School Committee, as may be appropriate, whether: (1) the measure as proposed may lawfully be proposed by the initiative process; (2) whether, in its present form it may be lawfully adopted by the Town Council or the School Committee; and (3) whether the Town Clerk may issue blank forms as provided pursuant paragraph 7-7 (c). If the opinion of the Town Attorney is that the measure fails in any respect the reply shall state the reasons for that opinion, in full. A copy of the opinion of the Town Attorney shall also be mailed to the person designated as clerk of the petitioners committee.
(c) Submission to Town Clerk - If the opinion of the Town Attorney is that the petition is eligible pursuant to Section 7-7 (b), the Town Clerk shall provide blank forms for the use of subsequent signers, and shall print at the top of each blank a fair, concise summary of the proposed measure, as determined by the Town Attorney, together with the names and addresses of the first ten (10) voters who signed the originating petition. No later than ninety (90) days following the date the blank forms are issued by the Town Clerk, the petitions shall be returned and filed with the Town Clerk signed by not less than ten percent (10%) of the total number of voters voting in the most recent biennial Town election, but not less than five percent (5%) of all registered voters on the same date. Signatures to an initiative petition need not all be on one (1) paper, but all such papers pertaining to a measure shall be fastened together and filed as a single instrument, with the endorsement thereon of the name and residence address of the person designated as filing the same. With each signature on the petition there shall also appear the street and number of the residence of each signer.
Not later than ten (10) days after the filing of the petition, the Board of Registrars of Voters shall ascertain by what number of voters the petition has been signed, and what percentage that number is of the total number of voters as of the date of the most recent regular biennial Town election. The Town Clerk shall attach to the petition a certificate showing the results of the Town Clerk’s examination and shall return the petition to the Clerk of the Council or the secretary of the School Committee according to how the petition is addressed. A copy of the Board of Registrars of Voters certificate shall also be mailed to the person designated as Clerk of the petitioners committee.
(d) Action on Petitions – Not later than sixty (60) days after the date a petition is returned to the Clerk of the Council or the secretary of the School Committee by the Town Clerk, and after publication in accordance with section 2-9(c), the Town Council or the School Committee shall act with respect to each initiative petition by passing it without change, by passing a measure which is stated to be in lieu of the initiative measure or by rejecting it. The passage of a measure which is in lieu of an initiative measure shall be considered a rejection of the initiative measure. If the Town Council or the School Committee fails to act with respect to any initiative measure which is presented to it not later than sixty (60) days after the date it is returned to it by the Town Clerk, the measure shall be considered to have been rejected on the 60th day. If an initiative measure is rejected, the Town Clerk shall promptly give notice of that fact by certified mail to the person designated as Clerk of the petitioners committee.
(e) Supplementary Petitions - Not later than sixty (60) days after the date an initiative petition has been rejected, a supplemental initiative petition may be filed with the Town Clerk by the petitioner's committee as determined in section 7-7(a). The supplemental initiative petition shall be in the same form as the initial petition and signed by a number of additional voters, which is equal or greater than five percent (5%) of the total number of voters voting in the most recent regular biennial Town election, but not less than two and one half percent (2 ½ %) of all registered voters as of the same date. If the number of signatures to a supplemental petition is found to be sufficient by the Town Clerk, the Town Council shall call a special election to be held on a date fixed by it that is not less than one hundred and twenty (120) nor more than one hundred eighty (180) days after the date of the certificate of the Town Clerk that a sufficient number of voters have signed the supplemental initiative petition, and shall submit the proposed measure, without alteration, to the voters for determination; provided, however, that if the next regular biennial Town election is to be held not later than one (1) year after the date of the certificate, the Town Council may omit the calling of a special election and cause the question to appear on the election ballot at the approaching election for determination by the voters at that election.
(f) Publication - The full text of any initiative measure which is submitted to the voters shall be published in a local newspaper not less than seven (7) nor more than fourteen (14) days preceding the date of the election at which such question is to be voted upon. Additional copies of the full text shall be available for distribution to the public in the office of the Town Clerk.
(g) Form of Question - The ballots used when voting on a measure proposed by the voters under this section shall contain a question in substantially the following form:
Shall the following measure, which was proposed by voters in an initiative petition, take effect?
(Here insert the full text of the proposed measure, or a fair, concise summary prepared by the petitioners committee, and approved by the Town Attorney)
(h) Time of Taking Effect - If a majority of the votes cast on the question is in the affirmative, the measure shall be deemed to be effective forthwith, unless a later date is specified in such measure; provided, however, that no such measure shall be deemed to be adopted if fewer than twenty percent (20%) of the total number of voters have voted at the election at which the question has been voted upon.
SECTION 7-8: CITIZEN REFERENDUM PROCEDURES
(a) Petition, Effect on Final Vote - If, not later than thirty (30) days after the date on which the Town Council or the School Committee has voted to approve a petition which was addressed to the Town Council or to the School Committee and signed by a number of voters equal to ten percent (10 %) of the total number of voters voting in the most recent regular biennial Town election, but not less than two and one half percent (2 ½ %) of all registered voters as of the same date, the petition is filed with the Town Clerk, protesting against the measure or any part thereof then the effective date of such measure shall be temporarily suspended. Final approval under this section shall not be complete until the time for all remedies pursuant to Section 3-7 has expired. The School Committee or the Town Council shall reconsider its vote on the measure or any part thereof at the next regularly scheduled meeting of that body and, if the measure is not rescinded the Town Council, shall provide for the submission of the question for a determination by the voters either at a special election which it may call at its convenience, or within such time as may be requested by the School Committee, or at the next regular Town election; provided, however, that pending such submission and determination, the effect of the measure shall continue to be suspended.
(b) Certain Initiative Provisions to Apply - The petition described in this section shall be termed a “referendum petition” and, insofar as applicable, subsection (a) of section 7-7 describing the manner in which a petition is prepared and filed, subsection (b) of said section 7-7 providing for referral to the town attorney for a legal opinion, subsection (f) of said section 7-7 providing for publication of the text of the measure and subsection (g) of said section 7-7 providing for the form of ballot question shall apply to such referendum petitions, except that the words "measure or part thereof protested against" shall be deemed to replace the word "measure" in said subsections (a),(b),(f) and (g) of said section 7-7, each time it appears, and the word “referendum” shall be deemed to replace the word "initiative" in said subsections (a),(b),(f) and (g) of said section 7-7, each time it appears.
(c) If not placed before the voters at a regular biennial election, in order for the referendum to be binding upon the Town, twenty-five percent (25%) of the registered voters of the Town shall vote on the measure or issue placed before the Town by citizens' referendum procedure.
SECTION 7-9: INELIGIBLE MEASURES
None of the following shall be subject to the initiative or the referendum procedures:
1. Proceedings relating to the internal organization or operation of the Town Council or of the School Committee,
2. An emergency measure adopted in conformity with the Charter,
3. The Town budget or the School Committee budget as a whole,
4. Revenue loan orders,
5. Any appropriation for the payment of the Town's debt or debt service,
6. An appropriation of funds to implement a collective bargaining agreement,
7. Proceedings relating to the election, appointment, removal, discharge, employment, promotion, transfer, demotion, or other personnel action,
8. Any proceedings repealing or rescinding a measure or part thereof which is protested by referendum procedures, and
9. Any proceedings providing for the submission or referral to the voters at an election.
SECTION 7-10: SUBMISSION OF OTHER MATTERS TO VOTERS
The Town Council may of its own motion, and shall at the request of the School Committee if a measure originates with that body and pertains to affairs under its jurisdiction, submit to the voters at any regular Town election for adoption or rejection any measure in the same manner and with the same force and effect as are hereby provided for submission by petitions of voters.
SECTION 7-11: CONFLICTING PROVISIONS
If two (2) or more measures passed at the same election contain conflicting provisions, only the one receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes shall take effect.
SECTION 7-12: RECALL ELECTIONS
(a) Application - Any person holding an elected office may be recalled from such office by the voters in accordance with the procedures made available in this section.
(b) Recall Petition - Five hundred (500) or more voters may file with the Board of Registrars of Voters an affidavit containing the name of the elected at-large officer sought to be recalled and a statement of the grounds for recall. The signatures on such affidavit shall contain the names of at least twenty-five (25) voters in each of the precincts into which the Town is divided for the purpose of elections. One hundred (100) or more voters may file with the Board of Registrars of Voters an affidavit containing the name of the individual precinct elected officer sought to be recalled and a statement for the grounds for recall.
If the affidavit is found to be valid the Town Clerk shall thereupon deliver to the first ten (10) persons named on said affidavit, petition blanks demanding said recall, printed forms of which shall be kept available. The blanks may be completed by printing or by typewriting; they shall be addressed to the Town Council; they shall contain the names and residence addresses of the ten (10) persons to whom they are issued and they shall contain the grounds for recall as stated in the affidavit; they shall demand the election of a successor to the office; and they shall be dated and signed by the Town Clerk.
The recall petitions shall be returned to the office of the Board of Registrars of Voters within twenty-one (21) days following the date they are issued, signed by not less than twenty percent (20%) of the total number of voters of the Town as of the date of the most recent Town election.
The sheets constituting a petition need not all be filed at the same time. For the purposes of this section such a petition shall be deemed filed whenever the persons responsible for its filing notify the Board of Registrars of Voters, in writing, that the filing is complete. Before receiving such notice the Board of Registrars of Voters may, but shall not be required to, certify signatures on the sheets already filed.
The Board of Registrars of Voters shall not later than ten (10) days after the date the petition forms are filed certify both the number of signatures on the petition, which are the names of voters, and the percentage that number represents of the total number of voters voting and total number of voters registered as of the date of the most recent regular biennial Town election.
(c) Recall Election - If the petitions are certified by the Board of Registrars of Voters to contain a sufficient number of signatures, the Town Clerk shall forthwith submit the petitions, with their certificate, to the Town Council. Upon receipt of the certified petition forms, the Town Council shall forthwith give written notice to the officer whose recall is sought of the validity of such petitions. If the officer whose recall is sought does not resign the office not later than five (5) days after delivery of that written notice, or after leaving that written notice at the officer’s last known place of residence, the Town Council shall, after consultation with the Town Clerk and the Board of Registrars of Voters, order a special election to be held on a date not more than ninety (90) days after the date of its notice to the officer whose recall is sought.
(d) Ballot Question - Ballots used at the recall election shall state the proposition in substantially the following form:
Shall (insert name of officer) be recalled from the office of (fill in office)?
(e) Officeholder - The person whose recall is sought shall continue to hold the office and to perform the duties until the recall election. If a majority of the votes cast on the question as stated above is in the affirmative, the officer shall be deemed to be recalled and the office shall be deemed to be vacant upon the certification of the election results. If a majority of the votes cast on the said question is in the negative the person whose recall was sought shall continue in the office until the expiration of the term for which elected, but subject to recall as provided in section (f), below.
(f) Restriction on Recall Petition - No recall petition shall be filed against any elected official until at least six (6) months following the commencement of a term of office, nor, in the case of any elected official subjected to a recall election and not recalled thereby, during the remainder of the current term of office. A recall election shall not be held if less than six (6) months of the term of office of any elected official remains at the time of the certification of the petition forms.
(g) Filling of Vacancy - If the office of Mayor is declared vacant as the result of a recall election the Town Council shall forthwith call a special election to be held on a date fixed by it not less than sixty (60) nor more than ninety (90) days following the date of the recall election. The person elected at such special election shall serve for the balance of the unexpired term remaining at the time of election.
If a vacancy occurs in the office of Town Council, or School Committee, it shall be filled in the manner provided (section 2-11, or section 4-6 respectively).
No person recalled from an office under the terms of this section shall be eligible to be a candidate to fill any vacancy created by such recall.
Posted: Fri, Jan 17, 2020 01:00 PM
Updated Fri, Jan 17, 2020 12:00 AM