Section 11: Proposed charter or charter revision; submission to voters; ballot; copies of final report or proposed amendment; adoption of alternative or conflicting provisions
Section 11. Upon submission of the final report of a charter commission under section nine, the city council or board of selectmen shall order the proposed charter or charter revision to be submitted to the voters of the city or town for their approval at the first regular city election, or at the first annual or biennial town meeting for the election of town officers, held at least two months after such submission, but a charter commission report which does not recommend the adoption or revision of a charter shall not be submitted to the voters. Such an order shall not require the concurrence of the mayor in cities and shall not be subject to referendum. A proposed charter amendment shall be similarly submitted to the voters at the first such election or meeting held at least two months after the order proposing such charter amendment becomes effective under section ten. The question of adopting a charter or revising a charter as recommended by a charter commission shall be submitted to the voters as a single question unless the report of the charter commission provides for the separate submission of proposed revisions. Unrelated charter amendments proposed by a city council or town meeting shall be submitted to the voters as separate questions.
The question of approving the adoption of or any revision of or amendment to a charter shall be placed on a written or printed ballot, which ballot, including ballot labels where voting machines are used, shall be prepared by public authority and at public expense. A copy of the ballot question and summary prepared in accordance with the following instructions shall be filed with the city or town clerk no later than thirty-five days before the election, and the form of the question shall be substantially as follows:
''Shall this (city) (town) approve the (insert 'new charter recommended by the charter commission' or 'charter revision recommended by the charter commission' or 'charter amendment proposed by the (city council) (town meeting)', as appropriate) summarized below?''
(Where a new charter or single charter revision is being submitted at an election, set forth here a brief summary of its basic provisions (composition and mode of selection of the legislative and executive branches and school committee or, if a change of none of these is involved, the most significant proposed change). Where separate revisions or any amendments are being so submitted, set forth here the substance thereof in a manner also sufficient to distinguish each from any other amendments or revisions to be considered at the same election. The charter commission shall prepare the summaries of its own proposals and the city solicitor or town counsel shall prepare the description of proposed amendments.)
The city council or board of selectmen shall cause the final report of a charter commission, or a charter amendment proposed in an order which has become effective under section ten, to be printed and a copy to be distributed to each residence of one or more registered voters. Such distribution shall occur not later than two weeks before the election at which the question of adopting, revising or amending the charter is to be submitted to the voters. Additional copies of such final report or proposed amendment shall be filed with the city or town clerk for distribution to registered voters requesting the same and one such copy shall be posted in his office.
A new charter or charter revision approved by a majority of the voters of the city or town voting thereon shall take effect on the day specified in such charter or revision, and any proposed amendment so approved shall take effect upon the date specified therein or in the city council order or town meeting vote proposing the same. If two or more charter adoption, revision or amendment proposals are submitted to the voters in the alternative and are approved, only the alternative proposal receiving the highest number of affirmative votes shall take effect. If two or more charter adoption, revision or amendment proposals containing conflicting provisions are submitted to the voters, but not as alternatives, and are approved, all such proposals shall take effect, but the proposal receiving the highest number of affirmative votes shall be construed to prevent all conflicting provisions contained in other proposals from taking effect.