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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE RECALL OF ELECTED OFFICERS IN THE TOWN OF WENHAM

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) Any holder of an office elected solely by the voters of the town of Wenham may be recalled and removed from the office by the qualified voters of the town pursuant to this act.

(b)  Not less than 50 registered voters of the town of Wenham may initiate a recall by filing with the town clerk an affidavit of intent to recall, signed under the penalties of perjury, containing the name of the officer and the office held whose recall is sought and a statement of the grounds of recall; provided, however, that the vote of an elected official on a matter, other than in connection with a conflict-of-interest violation, shall not constitute valid grounds for recall; and provided further that the voters themselves shall individually determine whether any other grounds listed for recall are sufficient.  Within 2 business days of receipt of an affidavit of intent, the town clerk shall certify, in accordance with the standards established by section 7 of chapter 53 of the General Laws, the names of voters of the town who signed the affidavit of intent.

(c)  Upon certification by the town clerk of a sufficient number of signatures, the town clerk shall, within 3 business days, notify the primary petitioner, who shall be the voter first named on such notice of intent, that copies of such petition blanks are available at the office of the town clerk. The blanks shall be issued by the town clerk with the town clerk's signature and official seal attached thereto. The blanks shall be dated and addressed to the select board, shall contain the name of the person whose recall is sought, the office from which recall is sought and the grounds for recall as stated in the affidavit and shall demand the election of a successor to such office. The names of the first 10 signers of the affidavit of intent shall be listed above the voter signature lines and any instructions to signers.  A copy of the petition shall be entered in a record book to be kept in the office of the town clerk.

(d)  The recall petition shall be returned and filed with the town clerk and board of registrars not later than 5:00 P.M. 21 calendar days following the date the clerk notifies the primary petitioner of the availability of the petition, or the next business day if the twenty-first day falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday. The clerk shall notify the primary petitioner of the final date and hour for filing.  The recall petition shall be signed by not less than 10 per cent of the registered voters of the town of Wenham as of the last annual town election and every signature shall include the place of residence of the signer with the street and number. Within 5 business days following the date of such filing, the town clerk and board of registrars shall certify in writing thereon the number of signatures that are names of registered voters in the town as of the date the affidavit was filed with the town clerk.

(e)  If the petition shall be found and certified by the town clerk to be sufficient, the town clerk shall submit the certified petition to the select board within 2 business days from certification of sufficient signatures and the select board shall immediately, and in not more than 5 business days, give written notice of the receipt of the certificate to the elected officer whose recall is being sought.  If the officer sought to be removed does not resign within 3 business days thereafter, the select board shall, within 5 business days, order a recall election to be held not less than 64 nor more than 90 calendar days from the date of the vote scheduling the election; provided, however, that if any other town election is to occur within 100 calendar days after the date of the vote, the select board may, in its discretion, place the question of recall on the ballot at such other election. If a vacancy occurs in the office sought to be recalled after a recall election has been ordered, but not yet been conducted, the election shall nevertheless proceed as provided in this act.

(f)  The nomination of all candidates, including the incumbent, the publication of the warrant for the recall election and the conduct of the same shall be in accordance with the provisions of law relating to elections, unless otherwise provided in this act.

(g)  The incumbent shall continue to perform the duties of the office until the recall election unless the incumbent resigns. If the incumbent is not recalled, the incumbent shall remain in office for the remainder of the incumbent’s unexpired term, subject to recall as before. If recalled in the recall election, the incumbent shall be considered removed.  The successor, upon qualification, shall hold office during the unexpired term; provided, however, that if such person is not qualified within 10 business days of the recall election, the position shall be deemed vacant and may be filled in accordance with applicable law.

(h)  Ballots used in a recall election shall submit the following proposition in the order indicated:

FOR THE RECALL OF [NAME OF OFFICER] (OFFICE HELD)

AGAINST THE RECALL OF [NAME OF OFFICER] (OFFICE HELD)

Immediately at the right of each proposition there shall be a designated space for voters to vote for either of the propositions. Just above the space, there shall appear the direction "Vote for 1".

Under the proposition shall appear the word "CANDIDATES" and the direction "Vote for 1" and beneath this, listed alphabetically, the names of candidates nominated as provided in this act.

If a majority of the votes cast on the recall question is in favor of the recall, the elected official shall be recalled and the ballots for the candidates shall be counted. The candidate who received the highest number of votes of the special election to the vacancy shall be elected.

If a majority of the votes cast on the recall question is in the negative, the votes for candidates to fill the potential vacancy need not be counted unless a vacancy exists at the time of the election.  

(i)  A recall petition shall not be filed against an elected official within 3 months after the official has taken office. An elected official shall not be subject to a subsequent recall effort for the same specific grounds listed in the notice of intent filed for any prior recall effort.

A person who has been recalled from office, or who has resigned from office after the recall petition has been filed with the board of registrars of voters, shall not be appointed to any town office, board or committee within 3 years after the recall or resignation.

SECTION 2.  This act shall take effect upon its passage.

Approved, December 17, 2021.