HB336 (2005) Detail

Relative to the use of secret ballots at town meetings.


HB 336 – AS INTRODUCED

2005 SESSION

05-0328

08/03

HOUSE BILL 336

AN ACT relative to the use of secret ballots at town meetings.

SPONSORS: Rep. Drisko, Hills 5; Rep. Ryder, Hills 5; Rep. Hall, Hills 5; Rep. Gargasz, Hills 5

COMMITTEE: Municipal and County Government

ANALYSIS

This bill establishes a new procedure for the use of secret ballots on questions seeking the appropriation of $100,000 or more at town meetings.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

05-0328

08/03

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Five

AN ACT relative to the use of secret ballots at town meetings.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 New Paragraph; Secret Ballot. Amend RSA 40:4-a by inserting after paragraph II the following new paragraph:

III. At any meeting of a town the vote on any question seeking the appropriation of $100,000 or more, except the annual operating budget, shall be taken by a secret “yes-no” ballot vote, unless the vote is being taken by official ballot pursuant to RSA 40:13, RSA 49-D:3, I-a, or RSA 49-D:3,II-a. For all secret “yes-no” ballot votes on questions seeking the appropriation of $100,000 or more the following procedures shall be used:

(a) Voting on such questions, including votes on bonds taken pursuant to RSA 33:8-a, shall take place during one uninterrupted voting period. Once voting on such questions has begun, the meeting shall not be recessed until the voting is complete and the outcome is determined and declared by the moderator. The governing body of any town may, prior to the issuance of the warrant for the meeting, determine that the vote shall be conducted during specified polling hours of at least 4 hours in duration on a day subsequent to the date on which the meeting will be convened. Notice of the date and times for voting on any such questions shall be included on the warrant and noticed in the same manner as the warrant. The voters at any meeting may, by majority vote, choose to recess the meeting and establish polling hours of at least 4 hours in duration at a future date for the purpose of voting on any such questions. Any voting on such questions following a recess shall not take place until the expiration of at least 7 days from the date on which the original vote on the motion was taken. Notice of the times and place of the vote shall be posted as required for public meetings under RSA 91-A and shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the municipality at least 2 days before the date on which the voting will occur.

(b) The form of any such question shall be worded as a “yes-no” question where a “yes” vote is a vote in favor of the appropriation.

(c) Approval of all warrant articles seeking the appropriation of $100,000 or more shall be by simple majority except for questions which require a supermajority vote by law, contract, or written agreement. Only “yes” and “no” votes shall be included in the calculation of the required majority.

(d) The eligibility of each person offering to vote shall be verified by use of the official checklist prior to the person being issued a ballot. A distinct mark or equivalent electronic record shall be made on the checklist beside the name of each person who votes for each question voted by secret “yes-no” ballot. A duplicate paper or electronic checklist may be used. If a duplicate paper or electronic checklist is used it shall be preserved, printed on paper, in the same manner as the official checklist use for the meeting.

(e) The moderator shall cause the ballots cast to be counted in a manner that ensures an accurate result. Before declaring the outcome of the vote, the moderator shall cause a count to be made of the number of persons marked on the checklist as voting on the question. The moderator shall cause the number of persons voting on the question as determined by the count of the marks on the checklist to be compared to the total votes cast as determined by the ballot count. If the number of votes cast is greater than the number of voters marked as voting, the moderator shall cause a verification to be made of both counts. If the outcome remains uncertain, the moderator shall call a new secret “yes-no” ballot vote on the question.

(f) Once the moderator declares the outcome of a vote, the town clerk shall secure all “yes-no” ballots cast in a separate container for each vote and shall preserve the ballots for no fewer than 60 days.

(g) Secret ballots shall be printed with the words “YES” and “NO.” Adjacent to each word, shall be printed a box in which to make a mark. A mark shall be made in one box. If a mark is made in neither box, then no vote shall be counted. If a mark is made in both boxes, then the ballot shall be invalid and no vote shall be counted.

(h) Recounts of a secret “yes-no” vote taken on such a question shall be available and shall be conducted as provided in RSA 40:4-c and RSA 40:4-d.

2 Secret Ballot; Recount. Amend RSA 40:4-c, I to read as follows:

I. If any 10 voters of a town shall, before the expiration of 7 days from the date of an annual meeting or special meeting, apply in writing to the town clerk for a recount of the ballots given in at said meeting on any question, affecting said town only, legally appearing on the official [Australian or nonpartisan] ballot used at said meeting, or on any question voted by secret ballot under RSA 40:4-a, III, said clerk shall appoint a time and place for the recount not earlier than 5 days nor later than 10 days after the receipt of said application. The applicants for such recount shall pay to the town clerk, for the use of the town, a fee of $10.

3 Use of Secret Ballot. Amend RSA 49-D:3, I-a–II-a to read as follows:

I-a. Official ballot town council shall be a variation of the town council which provides for voting on some or all matters that general law requires to be addressed at the annual or a special meeting of a town, by official ballot. In such event, the town council shall be vested only with the limited authority to vote on all matters not voted on by official ballot. When an official ballot town council is included in any charter, the provisions of RSA 49-D:3, I, relative to town councils, shall apply in all respects, except with respect to those matters to be voted on by official ballot. When a charter provides for an official ballot town council it shall also specify with precision the budgetary items to be included on the official ballot, a finalization process for the annual budget, the process for public hearings, debate, discussion, and amendment of questions to be placed on the official ballot, the procedures for the transfer of funds among various departments, funds, accounts, and agencies as may be necessary during the year, and the applicability of the official ballot procedure to special elections. The majority vote required to approve bonds or notes shall be either 2/3 or 3/5 as adopted and provided for in the charter. If a charter does not specify which majority vote is required, than the required majority vote shall be 2/3. The form of any question seeking the appropriation of $100,000 or more shall be as prescribed under RSA 40:4-a, III. All voting by official ballot shall be in accordance with the procedures established in RSA 669:19-29, RSA 670:5-7, and RSA 671:20-30, including all requirements pertaining to absentee voting, polling places, and polling hours. Nonbudgetary items may be placed on the official ballot pursuant to this section notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 40:4-e and RSA 39:3-d.

II. Budgetary town meeting shall be a variation of the open town meeting but vested with the limited authority to vote on the annual town operating budget as presented by the governing body. When included in any charter the provisions of general law relative to town meeting, their warning, the right for petitioned articles at such meetings, and conduct of such meetings shall apply to a budgetary town meeting in all aspects relative to the appropriation of funds, including the approval of bond issues. When a charter provides for a budgetary town meeting it shall also delineate procedures for the transfer of funds among various departments, funds, accounts, and agencies as may be necessary during the year. The form of any question seeking the appropriation of $100,000 or more shall be as prescribed under RSA 40:4-a, III.

II-a. Official ballot town meeting shall be a variation of the open town meeting which provides for voting on some or all warrant articles, including part or all of the annual town operating budget, by official ballot. In such event, the open town meeting shall be vested only with the limited authority to vote on all matters not voted on by official ballot. When an official ballot town meeting is included in any charter, the provisions of general law relative to town meetings, their warning, the right for petitioned articles at such meetings, and the conduct of such meetings shall apply to the official ballot and open town meeting in all respects. The majority vote required to approve bonds or notes shall be either 2/3 or 3/5 as adopted and provided for in the charter. If a charter is silent with regard to such required majority, then the majority vote shall be 2/3. When a charter provides for an official ballot town meeting it shall also specify with precision the budgetary items to be included on the official ballot, a finalization process for the annual budget, the process for public hearings, debate, discussion, and amendment of questions to be placed on the official ballot, the procedures for the transfer of funds among various departments, funds, accounts, and agencies as may be necessary during the year, and the applicability of the official ballot procedure to special meetings. All voting by official ballot shall be in accordance with the procedures established in RSA 669:19-29, RSA 670:5-7, and RSA 671:20-30, including all requirements pertaining to absentee voting, polling places, and polling hours. The form of any question seeking the appropriation of $100,000 or more shall be as prescribed under RSA 40:4-a, III. Nonbudgetary items may be placed on the official ballot pursuant to this section notwithstanding the provisions of RSA 40:4-e and RSA 39:3-d.

4 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

Links

HB336 at GenCourtMobile

Action Dates

Date Body Type

Bill Text Revisions

HB336 Revision: 8797 Date: Jan. 21, 2010, midnight

Docket