Done Deal: State House & Senate approve bill ratifying town elections delayed by blizzard
CONCORD – The Corner Office says Gov. Chris Sununu will sign into law a bill that would ratify town elections that were postponed on March 14 due to a powerful snowstorm.
Both the state House of Representatives and the state Senate Thursday approved a compromise bill that would allow towns that delayed their elections due to the blizzard like conditions to ratify the results from those contests after holding a public hearing and a vote by the towns’ governing bodies.
The day before the town elections, as the storm was closing in, New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner declared that any election held other than on the second Tuesday in March would be held illegally. And Sununu said he was "strongly" recommending but not mandating that towns stay open to allow voting. And he emphasized that towns that postponed their elections did so “at their own risk.”
But around 73 of the state’s 210 towns did delay their contests, pointing to a state statute that they suggested gave town moderators the power to move elections due to unsafe weather conditions, such as the powerful nor’easter that slammed into the state.
The postponements were the first time in state’s modern history that a large number of towns decided to delay voting.
State Senate Minority Leader Jeff Woodburn, who days after the storm hit introduced the original bill to try and ratify the elections, said in a statement “I am thrilled the legislature has agreed to this common sense compromise so that our local governments can get back to the business of serving the people of their towns without being trapped in a state of legal limbo. The final version of this legislation maintains the spirit of my original bill and accomplishes the goal we set out to fix just a month ago. I thank my colleagues in the House and Senate who recognized the need for us to act quickly.”