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Sullivan County town makes call to postpone voting due to weather

By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent

March 13. 2018 9:31PM




Despite the snowstorm that closed schools and businesses throughout the state Tuesday, most towns adhered to the state's edict not to cancel town and school meeting voting on account of Mother Nature.

One town went against the state's edict to not cancel voting, however.

Washington town moderator Barbara Gaskell said Tuesday she made the call at noon on Monday to postpone town meeting until Saturday because of the blizzard warning,

“They were predicting the weather to be nasty,” Gaskell said.

The Sullivan County town has a population of 1,123, according to the 2010 census.


Last week, Secretary of State William M. Gardner and Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald sent a stern reminder to town officials that New Hampshire law does not contain a provision that authorizes any public official to postpone an election.

There is some leeway, town moderators may postpone deliberative sessions in SB2 towns and the business meetings of the town, in towns that have adopted RSA 39:2-a, due to weather emergencies. The memo was clear through: state law does not authorize local or state officials to postpone the town elections.

When asked about the state's memo, Gaskell said as she believes the town moderator has the authority to postpone town meeting.

“The way I read that I had full authority to do what I did,” Gaskell said. “I see no reason to require the citizens of Washington to risk life and limb to vote on Tuesday when we could vote just as easily on Saturday.”

It was a matter of safety, she said.

Gaskell said her husband works for the town highway department and he told her Tuesday afternoon there would have been no way to keep the road from their home to town meeting safely open on Tuesday.


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