This week's nor'easter originally forced some towns to change the day for their town meetings or elections, but many or all have rescinded their original postponement. Advertisement. >> Download the FREE WMUR app. The incoming storm caused confusion ...and more »
A nor'easter forecast to hit New Hampshire on Tuesday is creating confusion for many towns scheduled to hold Town Meeting votes.
>> Download the FREE WMUR appDozens of towns had moved voting to another day because of safety concerns, but they were later told by the New Hampshire Secretary of State's Office that they don't have the authority to do that."The state law is clear," Deputy Secretary of State Dave Scanlan said. "Our position is that votes on Town Meeting day will take place tomorrow, regardless of the weather.">> Full forecastBut there appear to be two state laws that are in conflict. One mandates that votes be held on the second Tuesday in March. The other gives moderators the authority to postpone the voting if the weather is a concern. The storm is expected to be significant, with up to 20 inches of snow possible in some areas. Gusty winds will make travel difficult, and Gov. Chris Sununu urged Granite Staters to stay off the roads if possible. "We're on the phones right now with all the different departments across the state making sure that we're mobilized, with everything from our Emergency Operations Center to the Department of Transportation," Sununu said. For many towns, the timing of the storm couldn't be worse because it hits on Town Meeting day. Some are still considering what to do, while officials in Candia said they have made the decision to postpone. "We all agreed that for the safety of our Candia residents that it would be best if we delayed the voting," moderator Clark Thyng said. Several towns that were planning to change their voting days have rescinded the decision after being contacted by the secretary of state's office. Thyng said he believes that the town can reschedule the voting. "Our advice from counsel there was we had the authority to move the voting day," Thyng said. The law says, in part: "In the event a weather emergency occurs on or before the date of a deliberative session or voting day ... the moderator may, up to two hours prior to the scheduled session, postpone and reschedule the deliberative session or voting day." "We're going to stay with our Thursday the 16th voting day because we feel it's the safest thing for all of our residents," Thyng said. The state attorney general is reviewing the statutes and plans to take part in a conference call Monday afternoon with other state officials, including the governor, to determine what to do.
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