CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — There was no calm before the storm, just lots of confusion. Local elections for most New Hampshire towns were scheduled for Tuesday, the day a nor'easter is expected. Many towns decided to postpone them, even though the ...
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CONCORD, N.H. (AP) â€” There was no calm before the storm, just lots of confusion.
Local elections for most New Hampshire towns were scheduled for Tuesday, the day a norâ€™easter is expected. Many towns decided to postpone them, even though the secretary of stateâ€™s office said they couldnâ€™t.
Republican Gov. Chris Sununu, following a conference call with towns and the attorney general, strongly recommended Monday that the elections be held.
â€œWe think thatâ€™s a very important part of the process,â€ he said. â€œBut given those differing opinions I donâ€™t think weâ€™re in a position to mandate that towns stay open.â€
He said towns are postponing elections â€œat their risk,â€ suggesting they could be open to lawsuits for voter suppression. His office is recommending towns that choose to move their elections make sure someone is available to provide absentee ballots during the scheduled voting time.
He did not have a number of how many towns have moved their elections. More than 100 participate in the elections.
Some towns, such as Candia, which moved its elections to Thursday, pointed to another state law that says in the event of a â€œweather emergencyâ€ on or before a voting day or a deliberative session the town moderator can reschedule up to two hours beforehand.
Cordell Johnston, government affairs counsel for the New Hampshire Municipal Association, said the phone had been â€œringing off the hookâ€ with questions from town officials. He said the law clearly states that itâ€™s up to the moderator and that there is â€œunanimous agreementâ€ among town attorneys.
Sununu said the state has had major snowstorms on election days before.
â€œIt was quite surprising to us that a lot of towns chose to take this path all of a sudden, but they did and we have to be respectful of that,â€ he said.
Democrats, meanwhile, plan to introduce emergency legislation later this week to ensure that results from postponed elections are enforced.
Senate Democratic Leader Jeff Woodburn and House Democratic Leader Steven Shurtleff said the Legislature should step in to eliminate confusion and ensure that towns that postpone their elections can do so. They plan to introduce legislation Wednesday at a meeting of the Senate Rules and Enrolled Bills Committee.
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