Stoughton Selectmen Vote to Move Date of Town Election, Push Back Start of Town Meeting
The Stoughton Board of Selectmen voted Monday night to move the annual town election to April 30, the same day as the special state primary for U.S. Senate. As a result, the start of Stoughton's Town Meeting has been pushed back to May 20.
With both the Stoughton annual town election and a special state primary for a U.S. Senate seat scheduled to be held in April, the Stoughton Board of Selectmen took advantage of a state law which allowed the Board to move the date of the town election to the same day as the primary.
Originally, the town election was scheduled to be held Tuesday, April 9, 2013, with the primary for the special U.S. Senate election to fill the seat held by now Secretary of State John Kerry just three weeks later on Tuesday, April 30.
After meeting Monday night, Selectmen voted 3-1 in favor of holding the two elections on the same day, April 30.
The decision to move the town election to April 30, which is when Town Meeting representatives are elected, also coincided with Selectmen voting to postpone the start of the annual Town Meeting.
Originally scheduled to start Monday, May 6, 2013, less than a week after the new town election date, Town Meeting will now start Monday, May 20. New dates for the precinct caucuses and organizational Town Meeting have not been announced yet.
Concerns with having to postpone Town Meeting and having it possibly run late into June is why Selectman John Anzivino did not vote in favor of holding the elections on the same day.
Selectmen John Stagnone, Cynthia Walsh and Bob O'Regan all supported the motion, however. Selectman Steve Anastos was not present.
While the Town Election and special primary election are now on one day, these will still be two distinct elections, with separate ballots.
According to the special state law, any town which had its local election "scheduled within 30 days of the primary of general election" for the U.S. Senate seat could decide to move the date of its local election, upon approval of the town council or the Board of Selectmen. Some other area towns, like Easton, Bridgewater and Middleboro, have also changed the date of their local elections to April 30.
Town Manager Michael Hartman said it will still be possible to have just one voting machine at each precinct, and that while he said Town Clerk Cheryl Mooney indicated additional election day staff will be needed, they wouldn't need to double the amount of staff. He also said there wouldn't be a need for additional police detail at the precincts.
Hartman said the town is waiting to see what the reimbursement is from the state for holding the special election.
As for the impact on Town Meeting, Town Moderator Howard Hansen, who was not in favor of holding the election on the same day, wrote that the Town Charter sets the election date at 27 days before the start of the Annual Town Meeting, and therefore Town Meeting couldn't start until at least May 27.
But, the special state law which allows for towns to change the election date, trumps local town laws, Town Counsel Brian Riley informed Hartman and the Selectmen, therefore allowing the Town Meeting to start less than 27 days from the April 30th election, on May 20.
The 2012 Town Meeting started May 7 and did not end until June 13, after nine sessions.
While the start of the 2013 Town Meeting is now slated for May 20, Hansen's letter points out that "all Annual Town Meeting business" still must be "concluded by June 30," which is the end of the fiscal year.