The regular general town election shall be held on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November in each odd numbered year.
A preliminary election for the purpose of nominating candidates shall be held on the third Tuesday in September in each odd numbered year, provided, however the town clerk may, with the approval of the town council, reschedule such election to the fourth Tuesday to avoid a conflict with any civil or religious holiday. Whenever a special election to fill a vacancy in the office of mayor is to be held, a preliminary election shall be conducted twenty-eight days proceeding the date established for such special election.
All elections for town offices shall be non-partisan and election ballots shall be printed without any party mark, emblem, or other designation whatsoever.
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 fifty such signatures, provided, however, that at least twenty-five signatures must be certified from each district; for the office of councillor-at-large or school committee member, not less than one hundred fifty such signatures, provided, however, that at least twenty-five signatures must be certified from each district; for the office of district councillor not less than one hundred such signatures, all of which shall be from the district from which the nomination is sought.
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.
Determination of Candidates - The two 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 its validity. If two 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 an the official ballots, although in consequence thereof there be printed on such ballots the names of candidates exceeding twice the number to be elected.
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 district or districts of the town, no preliminary election shall be held in such district or districts.
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 drawing shall be open to the public.
The territory of the town shall be divided into six districts so established as to consist of as nearly an equal number of inhabitants as it is possible to achieve based on compact and contiguous territory, bounded insofar as possible by the center line of known streets or ways or by other well defined limits. Each such district shall be composed of voting precincts established in accordance with general laws. The town council shall from time to time, but at least once in each ten years, review such districts to insure their uniformity in number of inhabitants.
Except as expressly provided in this charter and authorized by law, all town elections shall be governed by the 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.
Commencement - Initiative procedures shall be started by the filing of a proposed initiative petition with the clerk of the council or the secretary of the school committee, as the case may be. 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 at least two hundred and fifty voters provided, however, that at least twenty-five signatures must be certified from each district. The petition shall be accompanied by an affidavit signed by ten 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.
Referral to Town Solicitor. - The clerk of the council or the secretary of the school committee, as the case may be, shall forthwith following receipt of each such proposed petition deliver a copy of the petition to the town solicitor. The town solicitor shall, within fifteen days following receipt of a copy of the petition, in writing, advise the town council or the school committee, as may be appropriate, whether the measure as proposed may lawfully be proposed by the initiative process and whether, in its present form it may be lawfully adopted by the town council or the school committee. If the opinion of the town solicitor is that the measure is not in proper form the reply shall state the reasons for such opinion, in full. A copy of the opinion of the town solicitor shall also be mailed to the person designated as clerk of the petitioners committee.
Submission to Town Clerk - If the opinion of the town solicitor is that the petition is in a proper form 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 solicitor, together with the names and addresses of the first ten voters who signed the originating petition. Within thirty 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 at least ten per cent of the total number of voters as of the date of the most recent town election. Signatures to an initiative petition need not all be on one paper, but all such papers pertaining to any one measure shall be fastened together and shall be 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.
Within ten days following 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 town election. The town clerk shall attach to the petition a certificate showing the results of their 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.
Action on Petitions - Within thirty days following the date a petition has been returned to the clerk of the council, or the secretary of the school committee, and after publication in accordance with the provisions of section 3-9(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 deemed to be 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 within thirty days following the date it is returned to it, the measure shall be deemed to have been rejected on such thirtieth day. If an initiative measure is rejected, the clerk of the council, or the secretary of the school committee, shall promptly give notice of that fact to the person designated as the clerk of the petitioners committee, by certified mail.
Supplementary Petitions - Within sixty days following the date an initiative petition has been rejected a supplemental initiative petition may be filed with the clerk of the council or the secretary of the school committee, but only by persons constituting the original petitioners committee. The supplemental initiative petition shall be signed by a number of additional voters which is equal to five percent of the total number of voters as of the date of the most recent town election, provided, however, the signatures on the initial petition filed under sub-section (c), above, and the signatures on the supplemental petition filed under this sub-section, taken together, shall contain the signatures of at least fifteen percent of the total number of voters in the town and in each of the districts into which the town is divided for the purpose of elections. If the number of signatures to such 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 not less than thirty nor more than ninety days following 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, if any other town election is to be held within one hundred and twenty days following the date of the said certificate, the town council may omit the calling of such special election and cause said question to appear on the election ballot at such approaching election for determination by the voters.
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 nor more than fourteen 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.
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:
Petition, Effect on Final Vote - If, within twenty-one days following the date on which the town council or the school committee has voted finally to approve of any measure a petition signed by a number of voters equal to fifteen percent of the total number of voters as of the date of the most recent general town election and addressed to the town council or to the school committee as may be, protesting against the measure or any part thereof is filed with the secretary of the school committee or clerk of the council the effective date of such measure shall be temporarily suspended. The school committee or the town council shall forthwith reconsider its vote on such measure or part thereof, and, if such 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, but pending such submission and determination the effect of such measure shall continue to be suspended.
Certain Initiative Provisions to Apply - The petition described in this section shall be termed a referendum petition and insofar as applicable the provisions of section 7-7 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 sections wherever it may occur and the word "referendum" shall be deemed to replace the word "initiative" wherever it may occur in said sections. The measure, or part thereof protested against, shall be null and void unless a majority of those voting on the question shall vote in favor of the measure or part thereof protested against at the election.
None of the following shall be subject to the initiative or the referendum procedures:
proceedings relating to the internal organization or operation of the town council or of the school committee;
an emergency measure adopted in conformity with the charter;
the town budget or the school committee budget as a whole;
revenue loan orders;
any appropriation for the payment of the town's debt or debt service;
an appropriation of funds to implement a collective bargaining agreement;
proceedings relating to the election, appointment, removal, discharge, employment, promotion, transfer, demotion, or other personnel action;
any proceedings repealing or rescinding a measure or part thereof which is protested by referendum procedures;
any proceedings providing for the submission or referral to the voters at an election; and
memorial resolutions and other votes constituting ordinary, routine matters not suitable as the subject of a referendum petition.
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.
If two or more measures passed at the same election contain conflicting provisions, only the one receiving the greatest number of affirmative votes shall take effect.
Application - Any person holding an elected town office may be recalled from such office by the voters in accordance with the procedures made available in this section.
Office Elected by Voters at Large - Four hundred or more voters may file with the board of registrars of voters an affidavit containing the name of the 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 fifty voters in each of the districts into which the town is divided for the purpose of elections.
Office Elected by Voters by District- One hundred or more voters may file with the board of registrars of voters an affidavit containing the name of the officer sought to be recalled and a statement of the grounds for recall. The signatures on such affidavit shall contain the names only of voters in the district from which the officer was elected.
At Large, or by District - If the affidavit is found to be valid the town clerk shall thereupon deliver to the first ten 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 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 days following the date they are issued, signed by not less than ten percent of the total number of voters (of the district or of the town as is appropriate) as of the date of the most recent town election. The signatures on such petitions shall contain the names of at least ten percent of the voters in each of the districts into which the town is divided for the purpose of elections.
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 within ten days following the date the petition forms are filed certify the number of signatures thereon which are the names of voters and the percentage that number represents of the total number of voters in each district, as of the date of the most recent town election.
Recall Election - If the petitions are certified by the board of registrars of voters to contain a sufficient number of signatures, they shall forthwith submit the same, 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 within five days following delivery of the said notice, or by its having been left at the last known place of residence, the town council after consultation with the town clerk shall order a special election to be held on a date fixed by it not more than ninety days after the date of its notice to the officer whose recall is sought.
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 (insert name of office held)?
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.
Restriction on Recall Petition - No recall petition shall be filed against any officer until at least six months following the commencement of a term of office, nor, in the case of an officer 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 months of the term of office of the person whose recall is sought remains at the time of the certification of the petition forms.
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 nor more than ninety 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.
Vacancies in any other office shall be filled in accordance with the procedures for filling the same as provided in section 2-11 and section 4-6.
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.