Another option has been added to the ongoing puzzle about how to cope with town meeting elections that were moved due to the March 14 blizzard: a proposal to allow local elected officials to decide whether the election was legal. The proposal, which describes itself as “the least detrimental of two unfortunate options,” was put forward in an amendment added to House Bill 329, a bill created to study how municipalities do their billing. The plan would ratify all elections for offices held by the roughly 73 communities that postponed town meeting voting due to the snowstorm that hit March 14. It would then give the local governing body, such as the select board or the school board, authority to ratify or not ratify everything else that was done by voters, which includes zoning ordinances and, for SB 2 communities, all other town business, including budgets and bonded warrant articles.
This plan differs from a bill approved by the state Senate last week, which said that results of the postponed election could only be ratified by a special election of the community – which is the other “unfortunate option” mentioned by the new proposal.
Critics have balked at the need to hold and pay for another election, and note that a House committee previously rejected a similar proposal.