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Shortage of Town Meeting Representative Candidates on Stoughton Election Ballot

Five of eight precincts have less than the minimum number of candidates running for a seat as a Town Meeting representative. Stoughton’s Annual Town Election is Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

On the eve of the , there is a for Town Meeting representative, with five of Stoughton’s eight precincts having less than the minimum number of candidates.

Each precinct is designed to have 21 representatives, with 168 representatives in all. But only 148 residents will be listed on the ballot.

The Annual Town Election is Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Because of redistricting, all 168 Town Meeting representative seats are up for election this year, even those seats that were up for election .

Normally a Town Meeting representative is elected to a three-year term, and only seven of the 21 seats are up at a time. But, with every seat up for election, the seven highest vote-getters in each precinct will be elected to three-year terms; the next seven will be elected to two-year terms; and the final seven will be elected to one-year terms.

Precinct 4 has 26 candidates running for the 21 seats, while Precinct 2 has 22 running. Precinct 6 has exactly 21 running.

Precinct 3 is one candidate short, while Precinct 1 is two candidates short. The remaining three precincts have a combined 23 vacancies—seven in Precinct 5 and eight each in Precincts 7 and 8.

As a result of the shortages—there is a possibility that as few as 142 people will be elected as Town Meeting representatives on April 10—Town Moderator Howard Hansen has been running advertisements in the Stoughton Pennysaver to encourage residents to run a write-in campaign for a seat at Town Meeting.

In order to be elected via a write-in campaign, you must receive 12 write-in (or sticker) votes from registered voters in your precinct.

According to an election pamphlet at Town Hall, “All write-in or sticker votes should include the correct name and address of the candidate(s), but courts have decided that a vote should be counted whenever the intent of the voter can reasonably be determined, even if the voter omits the candidate’s address or makes a mistake in the name or address.”

If the vacant seats are not filled via write-in or sticker campaigns, a precinct caucus, held shortly after the election, will aim to fill the remaining seats.

Even after the write-in process and precinct caucuses, shortages can remain. Last year, Town Meeting started with only 161 representatives, with a total of seven vacant seats spread throughout four of the eight the precincts, according to records on the town website.

Polls are open on April 10 from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. starts Monday, May 7.

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