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December 17. 2012 7:18PM

Derry official suggests having town clerk prepare elections

DERRY - Town Administrator John Anderson is looking for options to make the election process run more smoothly in the state's fourth-largest municipality.

With 34,000-plus residents, Derry does not lag far behind Concord's population of 42,000. The population size can affect how elections are carried out, he said.

"There are another six or seven cities in New Hampshire that are significantly smaller than the town of Derry," Anderson said. As the largest town in the state, Derry still has a town moderator runs its election as other town meeting towns do.

"The town clerk is not really in charge of the election," Anderson said. "There is really no one in charge of the election until the town moderator shows up about a week before the election. It would be beneficial to us to allow for some kind of local option where the community could choose to have the town clerk in charge of the election process."

During last month's presidential election, nearly 17,000 of the town's 18,594 registered voters cast ballots. "I know it's a big change for people to think about," Anderson said.

Derry state Rep. James Webb said he spoke to Secretary of State Bill Gardner about the moderator issue.

"He tells us the (moderator) works for the Secretary of State's Office on that date," Webb said.

Council chairman Brad Benson suggested having Gardner appear before the council to discuss the town moderator issue.

State Rep. Beverly Ferrante also noted that the population issue should be addressed at some point.

In neighboring Chester during the presidential election, 2,762 of the town's 3,120 registered voters cast ballots.

"The Chester town officials are not planning on changing anything for the election," Chester Town Clerk Barbara Gagnon said. "They have all been very happy with the way the elections are run by the moderator."

aswift@newstote.com


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