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Newbury Town Moderator Backs Bill To Postpone Town Elections During Storms

Britta Greene/NHPR

In the wake of snowy town meeting days in the past two years, lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow towns to delay their elections in the case of storms.

This issue stems back to 2017 when the weather prompted over 70 towns to postpone their elections. The following year, the Secretary of State and the Attorney General sent out a memo telling local election officials that they do not have the power to delay voting in their towns, unleashing a debate over who has the authority to delay town elections.

Nancy Marashio, the town moderator in Newbury, did not delay elections in 2017 because the town was able to get extra help to clear snow near the voting location. But she says had it been deemed unsafe for Newbury residents to come to the polls, she would have delayed the elections, and she would have expected to be allowed to do so.

“As a moderator who's now had 23 years’ experience, I had always assumed that because town election is part of town meeting and moderators for 300 years have been in control of Town Meeting,” Marashio told NHPR’s Peter Biello.

While lawmakers failed to resolve this issue last session, Marashio said she has more hope for this year’s bill.

“I'm very hopeful that a good bill – a fair bill -- is coming out,” said Marashio.

Read NHPR’s past coverage on the issue of delaying town elections:

Peter Biello is the host of All Things Considered and Writers on a New England Stage at New Hampshire Public Radio. He has served as a producer/announcer/host of Weekend Edition Saturday at Vermont Public Radio and as a reporter/host of Morning Edition at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina.
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