Section 7. Objections to certificates of nomination, nomination papers, or withdrawals for city offices, or to petitions for local ballot questions shall be filed with the city clerk within two working days of the last day fixed for filing such nomination papers, withdrawals, or petitions, or of the day on which certification of the names on a petition must be completed, whichever is later, except where city charters provide otherwise. Objections to certificates of nomination, nomination papers or withdrawals for town offices, or to petitions for local ballot questions, shall be filed with the town clerk within two working days of the last day fixed for filing such nomination papers, withdrawals, or petitions, or of the day on which certification of the names on a petition must be completed, whichever is later, except where town charters provide otherwise.
Objections filed with the city or town clerk shall forthwith be transmitted by him to the board authorized to hear such objections as provided under this section.
Objections in cities, except in the city of Boston, shall be considered by the board of registrars of voters and the city solicitor. Objections in towns shall be considered by the board of registrars of voters. Boards in cities and towns may, at hearings on such objections, summon witnesses, administer oaths and require the production of books, records and papers. Such witnesses shall be summoned in the same manner, be paid the same fees, and be subject to the same penalties for default, as witnesses in civil cases before the courts. A summons may be signed, and an oath may be administered by any member of such board.
When such objection has been filed, notice thereof shall be sent forthwith by registered or certified mail, return receipt requested, by the city or town clerk to the candidates affected thereby, addressed to their residences as given in the certificate of nomination or nomination papers, and to any party committee interested in the nomination to which such objection has been made; or in the case of local ballot questions to the first five names appearing on the petition or any other persons designated as sponsors of the petition. If more candidates bearing the same designation are nominated for an office, otherwise than by nomination papers, than are to be elected thereto, such boards shall determine the candidates, if any, entitled to such designation. Such boards shall render a decision on any matter referred to them, pertaining to certificates of nomination or nomination papers or to petitions for local ballot questions for any regular or special city or town primaries or any regular or special city or town election, or to withdrawals of nomination therefor, not later than four days after the last day fixed for filing objections to such certificates, papers, petitions, or withdrawals, as the case may be, under this chapter. But such decision need not be rendered until fourteen days after the last day fixed for filing objections to a petition, if the timing of such decision will not thereby prevent the question from qualifying for the ballot not later than thirty days before any previously scheduled election at which the question could appear. In the event that any such board fails to render within the aforesaid period its decision on any matter so referred, the city or town clerk shall, notwithstanding such failure, proceed forthwith to cause to be printed the ballots for such primaries or elections.