Section 19C. In cities, and in any town using official ballots, acceptance of the provisions of section nineteen B shall be by vote in answer to a question placed on the official ballot at a regular city or town election as hereinafter provided; and in towns not using official ballots at town elections, such acceptance shall be by vote at an annual town meeting.
If there is filed with the clerk of a city or town a petition requesting the acceptance of the provisions of section nineteen B containing the signatures of not less than five thousand registered voters or of five per cent of the registered voters of such city or town, whichever is the lesser number, such question shall be submitted for acceptance to the registered voters at the next regular annual or biennial city election or the next annual town election or annual town meeting, as the case may be, which occurs more than sixty days after the filing of such petition.
All such petitions shall bear the endorsement thereon of the names and addresses of three registered voters designated as filing the same. The provisions of law relative to the signing of nomination papers of candidates for elective office and to the identification and certification of names thereon, submission to the registrars therefor and filing objections thereto shall apply, so far as apt, to petitions filed under this section. The registrars of voters shall within five days after such submission ascertain by what number of registered voters such petition has been signed, and shall make and certify a statement of their determination in detail, setting forth such number and whether or not the same has been signed by the number of registered voters herein required, and shall attach such statement to said petition.
If such petition bears the signatures of registered voters in the number herein required, as shown by the statement of the registrars of voters, and has been filed seasonably with the city clerk or with the town clerk of any town using official ballots, and the said clerk finds the same to be in order, he shall cause the following question to be printed on the official ballot to be used for the election of city or town officers, at such regular city or town election, as the case may be:?
''Shall the (city) (town) vote to accept the provisions of section nineteen B of chapter forty-one of the General Laws and thereby provide permanent tenure for (name of incumbent), the present incumbent in the office of (city) (town) clerk?''
If a majority of the votes in answer to said question is in the affirmative and the incumbent's term is a continuing one or if the incumbent's term is expiring and he was re-elected, then said section shall thereupon take full effect in said city or town, but not otherwise.