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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

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

     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.  A holder of an elected office in the town of Bolton may be recalled from the office by registered voters of the town as provided in this act. A recall petition shall not be filed against an officer within 6 months after the officer has taken office nor, in the case of an officer subjected to, but not recalled by, a recall election, until at least 6 months after the election at which the recall petition was submitted to the voters.
     SECTION 2.  Thirty registered voters of the town of Bolton may initiate a recall petition by filing an affidavit with the town clerk. The affidavit shall contain the name of the officer whose recall is sought and a statement of the grounds for the recall. The town clerk shall provide a sufficient number of copies of blank petition forms, which the clerk shall maintain, to the voters who filed the affidavit. The blank petition forms shall: be issued by the town clerk and bear the clerk’s signature and official seal; be dated and addressed to the board of selectmen; contain the names of the persons to whom the forms were provided, the number of forms provided, the name of the officer whose recall is sought, a statement of the grounds for the recall as stated in the affidavit and a statement demanding the election of a successor to the officer’s office. The forms shall be provided during regular business hours within 5 business days of filing the affidavit. The recall petition shall be returned and filed with the town clerk on the twenty-eighth day after the filing of the affidavit. If the town hall is not open on the twenty-eighth day, the petition may be filed during normal business hours on the next day on which town hall is open for business. The petition, before being returned and filed, shall be signed by qualified voters of the town, equal in number to at least 20 per cent of the qualified voters of the town as of the date the affidavit was filed with the town clerk. Every signature shall be accompanied by the signer's place of residence, including the street and number. Within 24 hours of receipt, the town clerk shall submit the petition to the board of registrars of voters of the town and the board of registrars shall immediately certify the number of signatures.
     SECTION 3.  The reasons for which a recall may be initiated pursuant to this act shall include, but not be limited to:
          (i)  lack of fitness, which shall mean insobriety while performing official functions, involuntary commitment to a mental health facility or being placed under guardianship or conservatorship by a probate court;
          (ii)  corruption, which shall mean a conviction of a felony involving moral turpitude, conviction of bribery or extortion;
          (iii)  neglect of duties, which shall mean repeated absences from meetings without just cause; provided, however, that just cause shall include, but not be limited to, illness or regular vacation periods; and
          (iv)  misfeasance, which shall mean the performance of an official act in an unlawful manner or a willful violation of the conflict of interest law, open meeting law or other ethical violation.
     SECTION 4.  If the recall petition filed pursuant to section 2 is found and certified by the board of registrars of voters to be sufficient, the town clerk shall immediately submit it, with the certificate, to the board of selectmen. The board of selectmen shall immediately give written notice to the officer of the receipt of the certificate and, if the officer whose recall is sought does not resign within 7 calendar days, shall order an election to be held on a date fixed by the board of selectmen not less than 64 days nor more than 90 days after the date the board of selectmen calls for the election. If another town election is to occur within 90 days after the date of the certificate, the board of selectmen may postpone the recall election to the date of the other election. If a vacancy occurs in the office after a recall election has been so ordered, the election shall proceed as provided in this section.
     SECTION 5.  An officer who is subject to a recall election pursuant to this act shall not be a candidate to succeed the officer. The nomination of other candidates, the publication of the warrant for the recall election and the conduct of the recall election shall be carried out in accordance with the law relating to elections, except as otherwise provided by this act.
     SECTION 6.  An officer who is subject to a recall election pursuant to this act shall continue to perform the duties of the office until the recall election. If the officer is not recalled, the officer shall continue in the office for the remainder of the officer’s unexpired term, subject to recall as before, except as provided in this act. If the officer is recalled in the recall election, the officer shall be deemed removed from the position upon the election of a successor, who shall hold office during the unexpired term. If the successor fails to take office within 5 days after receiving notification of the successor’s election, the incumbent shall thereupon be deemed removed and the office vacant.
     SECTION 7.  Ballots used in a recall election conducted pursuant to this act shall contain the following propositions in the order indicated:
               For the recall of (name of officer).
               Against the recall of (name of officer).
     Immediately at the right of each proposition, there shall be an oval above which reads “vote for 1”.  The voter, by filling in the oval, may vote for either of the propositions. Under the propositions shall appear the word "candidates" and the direction “vote for 1”, under which shall appear the names of candidates nominated as provided in this act. In case of other forms of balloting, appropriate provision shall be made to allow the same intent of the voter.
     If a majority of the votes cast on the recall question is in the affirmative, the candidate who received the highest number of votes in the recall election to fill the vacancy shall be elected. If a majority of votes on the question is in the negative, the ballot for candidates shall not be counted.
     SECTION 8.  An officer who has been recalled from an office pursuant to this act or who has resigned from office while recall proceedings were pending against that officer shall not be appointed to a town office within 2 years after the recall or resignation.
     SECTION 9.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.

Approved, December 28, 2016