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The 193rd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 12: Election officers in towns; procedure; eligibility; examinations

[ Section impacted by 2020, 45, Secs. 1 and 1A, as amended by 2020, 92, Secs. 1 to 3, effective March 23, 2020; 2020, 92 Secs. 15 to 17 effective June 5, 2020; 2020, 115, Secs. 6 and 12, effective July 6, 2020; and 2021, 5, Secs. 1 and 2, effective March 16, 2021 and 2020, 255, effective December 31, 2020 as amended by 2021, 5, Secs. 4 to 8, effective March 16, 2021 and 2021, 29, Secs. 51 to 55, effective July 29, 2021, relating to elections in order to address disruptions caused by the outbreak of COVID-19.]

  Section 12. The selectmen of every town shall annually, not earlier than July fifteenth nor later than August fifteenth, appoint as election officers for each voting place or precinct, except as provided in section twenty-four, one warden, one deputy warden, one clerk, one deputy clerk, two inspectors and two deputy inspectors, who shall be enrolled voters in the commonwealth, except as otherwise provided in this section. They may, in like manner, appoint two inspectors and two deputy inspectors in addition, and such number of tellers as may be necessary to count the ballots cast. Said tellers shall be appointed for the counting of said ballots at the close of the polls. In the event that the selectmen fail to appoint such election officers on or before August fifteenth, the board of registrars of voters shall forthwith appoint said officers. The state secretary shall establish a waiver system to allow a town to request to appoint fewer election officers than specified in this paragraph.

  The chairman of the town committee of each political party may, not later than June first in each year, file with the registrars a list of enrolled members of such party who desire appointment as election officers. The selectmen shall, not later than April fifteenth of each year, make written notification to the chairman of record of the town committee of each political party that said list must be submitted no later than June first of the same year. Upon the filing of such lists the registrars shall forthwith proceed to the consideration thereof, and shall, on or before June thirtieth submit to the selectmen the names of persons whose names appear on the lists who in their opinion are qualified to act as election officers. The lists submitted by town committees shall contain not more than eight names for each office to be filled. Supplemental lists may be filed with the selectmen and registrars by the said chairman at any time before the appointments are made, for the purpose of filling vacancies which may occur in the original lists. No person shall be appointed as an election officer until he is found qualified to act as such as herein provided. Appointments shall be made from the original list before any names are taken from any supplemental list. All persons listed on the original list who have not been appointed as election officers shall be notified by certified mail of the appointment of a person listed on the supplemental list at least five days prior to such appointment.

  If, upon the expiration of fifteen days after notice given in writing prior to June fifteenth in any year by the selectmen to the chairman of any political committee who has not filed original or supplemental lists, and to the chairman of the state committee of such political party, neither the state nor town chairman shall have filed such lists, the selectmen may appoint as election officers registered voters in the commonwealth, except as otherwise provided in this section and recommended by the town clerk, who in the opinion of the selectmen, are qualified to act as such.

  Not more than 2 such election officers may be appointed who: (1) are 16 or 17 years of age; (2) are residents of the commonwealth; (3) are United States citizens when appointed; (4) are able to speak, read and write the English language; (5) have provided a letter from a parent or guardian giving permission for them to serve as election officers; (6) have provided a letter from their school principal giving permission for them to be absent from school to serve as election officers if the election or a training will take place when school is in session or, if home schooled, have provided a copy of the document indicating approval to be home schooled; and (7) agree to attend required training sessions. If an election officer under this paragraph attends a school that encourages or requires community service, serving as an election officer may be considered a community service activity. In no case shall a person 16 or 17 years of age serve as an election officer on the day of an election for more than the number of hours permitted for such a person to work pursuant to section 66 of chapter 149.

  The registrars may, if they deem it necessary, conduct examinations of persons whose names appear on the lists filed hereunder. Five days' notice shall be given of any such examination. The chairman of each town committee may appear and be heard either in person or by counsel, during the conduct of such examinations.