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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT FURTHER REGULATING RECALL ELECTIONS IN THE TOWN OF HANSON.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1.  Chapter 214 of the acts of 1986 is hereby repealed.

SECTION 2.  (a) The holder of an elected office in the town of Hanson who has held an elected town-wide office and whose term of office extends beyond the next annual town election may be recalled from the office by the registered voters of the town as provided in this section for 1 of the following reasons: (i) a conviction, while presently in office, of a felony or 1 of the following misdemeanors as defined in the General Laws: domestic violence, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the illegal manufacture, distribution or dispensing of a controlled substance, assault or criminal harassment; (ii) admission to facts, while presently in office, sufficient to be convicted of a felony or  1 of the following misdemeanors as defined in  the General Laws: domestic violence, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the illegal manufacture, distribution or dispensing of a controlled substance, assault or criminal harassment; (iii) a violation, while presently in office, of chapter 268A of the General Laws as determined by the state ethics commission or the attorney general; (iv) attendance at less than 50 per cent of the posted public meetings of the board or office of which the official was an elected member or to which the official has been elected or appointed as part of the official’s elected position during the previous 12 months; (v) lack of fitness, insobriety while performing official functions, involuntary commitment to a mental health facility or being placed under guardianship or conservatorship by a probate court; (vi) corruption, conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude, conviction of bribery or extortion; or (vii) a violation of law, regulation, by-law or other abdication of the applicable requirements for the elected position. The elected official’s vote on a matter, other than in connection with a conflict of interest violation, shall not be grounds for a recall petition.

(b)  One hundred fifty or more registered voters of the town of Hanson, with a minimum of 25 registered voters from each precinct, may make and file a notice of intent with the town clerk bearing the name of the elected official sought to be recalled, and a statement of the specific grounds for the recall as established by subsection (a) with information sufficient to support the specific grounds for recall, within a reasonable period of time determined by the town clerk before the next annual town election. Upon certification of the required signatures by the registrar of voters and a determination that the notice of intent contains information sufficient to support the specific reason and events for the recall as confirmed by town counsel, within 5 business days, the town clerk shall immediately deliver to the first named voter on the notice of intent, the petition forms, addressed to the board of selectmen, requesting a recall. The petition forms shall be issued under the signature and official seal of the town. They shall be dated and shall contain the names of the first 10 registered voters whose names appear on the grounds for the recall as stated in the notice of intent to recall. In addition, the petition shall request the election of a successor to the office. A copy of the petition form shall be entered in a record book to be kept in the office of the town clerk. The recall petition forms shall be returned and filed with the town clerk within 60 days after the receipt of the signed petition forms or the next business day after the sixtieth day if the sixtieth day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, with signatures, names and street precincts. The town clerk shall, within 3 business days following the day of the filing with the office of the town clerk, submit the recall petition forms to the registrar of voters, which shall, within 15 business days after the date of receipt, certify in writing to the town clerk thereon, the number of signatures which are names of registered voters in the town of Hanson.

(c)  In order to be found sufficient, the recall petition forms to be certified by the registrar of voters shall contain not less than 10 per cent of the registered voters of the town of Hanson, including not less than 100 registered voters from each of the town’s 3 precincts as of the date of the most recent town election. Upon such certification, the petition shall be filed by the town clerk with the board of selectmen within 2 business days. The selectmen shall give notice following their next scheduled meeting, in writing, to the elected official whose recall is sought by sending that elected official a copy of the certified recall petition. If the elected official to whom the recall is directed by the board of selectmen does not resign the office within 5 business days from the date of notice, the board of selectmen shall immediately order an election to be held within a reasonable period of time, but not earlier than 45 days from the town clerk’s certification of the petition. If a vacancy occurs in the office after a recall election has been ordered, the election shall nevertheless proceed as provided in this section, but only ballots for the new candidates shall be counted.

(d)  An elected official whose recall is sought may not be a candidate to succeed the official in the recall election. The nomination of candidates, the publication of the warrant for the recall election and the conduct of the election shall be in accordance with the state and local laws relative to elections, unless otherwise provided in this section.

(e)  The incumbent shall continue to perform the duties of the office until the recall election, unless the elected official resigns from the office. If the incumbent is not recalled, the incumbent shall remain in office for the remainder of the unexpired term, subject to recall as before, except as provided in this section. If recalled in the recall election, the incumbent shall be considered removed upon the qualification of the successor, who shall hold office during the unexpired term.

(f)  Ballots used in a recall petition shall contain the following propositions in the order indicated:

“For the recall of (name of elected official) who holds the position of (elected office)”

“Against the recall of (name of official) who holds the position of (elected office)”

Immediately at the right of each proposition there shall be a designated space for voters to vote for either of the propositions. Under the propositions shall appear the word “Candidates and directions to voters required by section 42 of chapter 54 of the General Laws”, and beneath those words, the names of the candidates nominated, listed alphabetically, as provided in this section. If a majority of the votes cast upon the question of the recall are in favor of the recall, the elected official shall be recalled and the ballots for candidates shall be counted. The candidate receiving the highest number of votes shall be declared elected. If the majority of the votes cast are in the negative, the ballots for candidates need not be counted unless the incumbent official has resigned previously or a vacancy occurs in the office after a recall election has been ordered pursuant to subsection (c).

(g)  A recall petition shall not be filed against an elected official within 6 months after the elected official has taken office; provided, however, that if the elected official has been reelected to another consecutive term in office, a recall petition may be filed within 3 months after taking office on the re-election vote. A recall petition shall not be filed against an elected official who was subjected to a recall election and not recalled until not less than 6 months have elapsed after the election at which the recall was submitted to the voters of the town. An elected official shall not be subject to a subsequent recall petition for the same specific reason and events that were the basis of a prior recall petition.

(h)  A person who has been recalled from office or who has resigned from office after the recall petition has been certified by the registrar of voters shall not be appointed to any town office, board or committee within 2 years after the recall or resignation.

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

Approved, October 25, 2019.