Just in case any town moderators were looking at the weather forecast and beginning to worry, Secretary of State Bill Gardner has some advice for them: Don’t even think about canceling elections. “New Hampshire law does not contain a provision that authorizes any public official to postpone an election,” Gardner wrote in a March 6 memo, which provides guidance on a variety of issues as New Hampshire heads into town meeting season. The notice comes in the wake of last year’s confusion when a huge nor’easter caused moderators in 73 communities to postpone ballot voting on March 14, 2017, the traditional Election Day on the second Tuesday in March.
That was the first time in at least a century that widespread postponements happened on New Hampshire’s Election Day, and it led to considerable debate over whether it was local or state election officials who had the right to postpone ballot votes.
Early forecasts say there is a chance of snow next Tuesday, but it’s not predicted to be nearly as severe as last year’s storm, or even the snowstorm that hit the state Wednesday and Thursday.
Last year’s delays generated a lot of legal debate over such issues as whether bonds for projects that had been approved by voters would be covered by banks (they were, eventually) and whether special ratifying votes should be held to confirm low-turnout elections that took place despite the snowstorm (they weren’t).