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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR RECALL ELECTIONS IN THE TOWN OF WESTPORT.

SECTION 1.  (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, any holder of an elected office in the town of Westport may be recalled by the registered voters of the town as provided in this act.

(b)  An initial recall affidavit shall be filed with the town clerk signed under the penalty of perjury by not less than 200 registered voters of the town with their names and addresses, 1 of whom shall be designated as the lead petitioner for the purposes of the recall. The initial recall affidavit shall contain the name of the officer sought to be recalled as appearing on the current voting list prepared under sections 37 and 37A of chapter 51 of the General Laws, the office from which recall is sought and a statement of the grounds for recall. Within 24 hours after receipt by the town clerk, the town clerk shall submit the affidavit to the board of registrars of voters and the board shall, within 7 business days, certify thereon the number of signatures that are names of registered voters of the town.

(c)  The town clerk shall, within 7 business days following said certification, make available to the lead petitioner at the office of the town clerk petition blanks containing lines for the number of signatures required below, multiplied by 5, demanding such recall. The petition blanks shall be issued by the town clerk with a facsimile of the signature of the town clerk and the official seal of the town attached thereto. The petition blanks shall (i) be dated; (ii) be addressed to the board of selectmen; (iii) contain the names of the 10 voters first named on the affidavit; (iv) specify the number of petition blanks issued; (v) name the person whose recall is sought, appearing as registered on the current voter list; (vi) specify the office from which recall is sought and the grounds for such recall as stated in the affidavit; and (vii) demand the election of a successor to the office. The recall petition shall be returned and filed with the town clerk within 30 days after the date the recall petition sheets were made available in accordance with this subsection and shall have been signed by not less than 10 per cent of the registered voters of the town as of the date of the most recent annual town election who shall add to their signatures their place of residence, including their street and number, if any.  Within 1 business day after receipt, the town clerk shall submit the recall petition to the board of registrars of voters and the board of registrars shall, within 7 business days, certify thereon the number of signatures that are names of registered voters of the town.

(d)  If the total recall petition sheets shall be found and certified by the board of registrars of voters to be sufficient, the certified petition shall be forthwith submitted with the certificate of the town clerk to the board of selectmen. Within 5 business days the board of selectmen shall give written notice to the officer sought to be recalled of receipt of the certified petition and shall, if the officer does not resign within 5 business days thereafter, forthwith order an election to be held on a date fixed by them not less than 64 nor more than 90 days from the date the board of selectmen calls for said election; provided, however, that if any other town election is to occur within 120 days of the date the board calls for the election, the board of selectmen shall postpone the holding of the recall election to the date of such other election and the question of recall shall appear on the ballot at that election. If a vacancy occurs in the office after a recall election has been ordered, the election shall nevertheless proceed as provided in this act.

(e)  An officer sought to be recalled may be a candidate in an election to be held to fill the vacancy and, unless the officer requests otherwise in writing, the town clerk shall place the officer's name on the ballot without nomination. The nomination of other candidates, the publication of the warrant for the recall election and the conduct of the nomination and publication shall all be in accordance with the laws regulating elections unless otherwise provided in this act.

(f)  The incumbent shall continue to perform the duties of the office until the recall election. If the incumbent is not recalled, the incumbent shall continue in office for the remainder of the unexpired term, subject to recall as before, except as otherwise provided in this act. If not re-elected in the recall election, the incumbent shall be considered removed from office immediately and the office shall be deemed vacant.

(g)  An initial recall affidavit shall not be filed against an officer within 3 months after the officer takes office or within the last 3 months of an officer’s term. If an officer subjected to a recall election was not recalled, a new recall affidavit shall not be filed against that officer until at least 6 months after the election at which the previous recall was submitted to the voters of the town.

(h)  No person who has been recalled from an office or who has resigned from office after the filing of a recall petition under this act shall be appointed to any town office within 2 years after such recall or resignation.

SECTION 2.  (a) Ballots used in a recall election shall contain the following propositions:

FOR THE RECALL OF (NAME), (OFFICE)

AGAINST THE RECALL OF (NAME), (OFFICE)

(b)  Adjacent to each proposition, there shall be a place to mark a vote. Following the propositions shall appear the word "candidates" with directions to voters as required by section 42 of chapter 54 of the General Laws. Beneath the word "candidates", there shall appear the names of candidates nominated as provided in this act.

(c)  If a majority of the votes cast upon the question of recall is in favor of recall, the officer shall be recalled and the votes for the candidates shall be counted. In that instance the candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected to the open office. If less than a majority of the votes cast are in favor of recall, the votes for candidates shall not be counted.

SECTION 3.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.

Approved, October 11, 2019.