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POSTPONED: Annual Town Election
The Spring Annual Town Election Scheduled for Saturday, April 11, has been postponed.
- Date: 04/11/2020 (all day)
The Spring Annual Town Election Scheduled for Saturday, April 11, has been Postponed.
I wanted to provide an important update relative to municipal elections legislation that was filed statewide at the State House.
The Governor yesterday signed into law chapter 45 of the Acts of 2020 “An Act granting authority to postpone 2020 municipal elections in the commonwealth and increase voting options in response to the declaration of emergency to respond to COVID-19,” which has an emergency preamble and thus takes effect immediately.
Here’s what the new Act does:
· SECTION 1. Allows a municipality to vote to postpone any municipal election or caucus originally scheduled between now and May 30, 2020.
o The select board, town council, board of registrars/election commission or city council of the city or town may take the vote to postpone.
o The vote to postpone must be done before the date of your originally scheduled election or caucus.
§ Remember, under the temporary changes to the open meeting law, you don’t need to have all members in the same room, but you do still need a quorum of whatever body is voting; whether this vote is an “emergency” for purposes of the Open Meeting Law will depend on the particular circumstances at issue.
§ It will be useful to reference the authority for such vote, something similar to the following:
Pursuant to section 1 of chapter 45 of the Acts of 2020 and because of the state of emergency declared by the governor pursuant to executive order 591, Declaration of a State of Emergency to Respond to COVID-19, the municipal town election (or caucus) scheduled for (date) is hereby postponed.
o The vote does NOT have to include a new election day (or caucus date)—that can and will be determined later.
o To determine a new date, the select board, town council or city council of a city or town must consult with the local election official and the chief operating officer of the municipality as to logistics and feasibility.
§ Only after such consultation, may the select board, town council or city council of a city or town vote on the new date.
§ That vote must occur at a properly posted meeting no less than 20 days prior to the new election date (and perhaps more depending on how nominations stand at this time).
· After the vote, a copy of the act, the vote of the select board, town council or city council and a sample ballot must be placed on the official municipal website—which must also happen not later than 20 days before the date of the new election.
· Notice of new election date must be provided to the public in other ways reasonably calculated to enable eligible voters to learn of the rescheduled election date including using a “reverse-911” call, municipal list-serve notifications, advertisement on local cable television or issuance of a press release sent to local news media.
o The act specifically provides that an incumbent elected official whose term would have expired at a municipal annual town election if the election was not postponed pursuant to this act shall continue to serve in the official’s position until a successor is elected and qualified (which is already set forth in section 107 of chapter 41 of the General Laws).
o If your municipality voted to postpone an election or caucus before this act was passed, those actions are ratified, validated and confirmed.
· SECTION 2. Changes the voter registration deadline to be 10 days before the new election date.
o Limits the registration session on that date to be not less than from 2 PM to 4 PM and from 7 PM to 8 PM.
o If your election is on a Tuesday, 10 days in before that is Saturday. For these purposes, the deadline will move back to Friday.
· SECTION 3. Allows the use of election materials from the original election date for the new election date.
o All ballots, including absentee and official, will have the date of the original election on them.
· SECTION 4. Allows absentee ballots cast for the original election to be counted for the new election date.
o Allows a voter who wants to vote in person on the date of the new election if their absentee ballot has not yet been counted.
o Extends deadline for applying for an absentee ballot to 12:00 noon on the last business day before the new election date.
o Expands the reasoning for voting absentee because a physical disability prevent the voter from going to the polling place (only until June 30, 2020) to include any person taking precaution related to COVID-19 in response to a declared state of emergency or from guidance from a medical professional, local or state health official, or any civil authority.
· SECTION 5. Provides for early voting by mail for any annual or special municipal or state election held on or before June 30, 2020.
o Voters must still submit a written request for an EV ballot which can be the application we’ve prepared (see attached and on our website) or any form of written communication asking for an EV ballot.
o Allows you to use absentee ballots to send to EV voters, but with an EV-7 inner envelope.
o Requires you to mail EV ballots as soon as you have your ballots ready.
o Sets the deadline to apply for an EV ballot as noon on the last business day before the new election date and the deadline for you to receive completed EV ballots as the close of polls on the new election date.
o Establishes the same process you use for EV for other elections by designating early voters as “EV” on the voting list and counting early voting ballots the same way you do for the state election.
My office along with the Board of Registrars will continue to monitor the election situation on a daily basis and try and keep you updated as we are made aware.. We are currently working on a press release and will coordinate with the Select Board on that release date to the public. As I mentioned in the past our top priority is safety while still maintaining the Integrity of Democracy ..
If you have any questions please call the Town clerks office @ 781-751-9200
Thank you again for your patience and cooperation throughout this process,
Paul M Munchbach
Dedham Town Clerk