On Monday, the Board of Selectmen tentatively scheduled the special election regarding for Thursday, July 19.
The board is having Town Counsel Juliana Rice contact the state attorney general’s office as well, to see if delaying the election until September would fall within the scope of the state statute. Rice believed that it would not at Monday’s meeting.
“The whole idea of the statute is to get this done as quickly as possible,” she told the board.
The statute (Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 43, Section 10) says that the board “shall forthwith call a special meeting for the sole purpose of presenting to the registered voters at large the question or questions so involved.”
Selectman Joseph Curro Jr. noted that the statute says “call” not “hold” the special meeting “forthwith,” or immediately.
The board discussed holding the special election in September at the request of Bill Downing, a local landscaper who was involved in .
Downing feared that a July election would be detrimental to voter turnout.
Opponents of the ban have a tall task in front of them. In addition to winning the vote at the election, they’ll need at least 5,760 Arlington registered voters (20 percent of all registered voters) to vote for the repeal (vote “no” on the question) in order for it to go through.
Selectman Steven Byrne questioned whether Downing and company explored all options to overturn the ban, including a special town meeting, which he proposed last meeting. “Looking at the numbers that are needed for this (to be repealed), it’s going to be very difficult to get that many people out at any time,” he said.
Downing said that the special town meeting idea “never developed into anything” and agreed with Byrne that it will be a “very difficult” path.
Byrne also noted the expense associated with the special election, to which Downing replied, “We should make every effort to have the special election in September, to get our money’s worth.”
Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine has estimated that the special election will cost the town between $25,000 and $30,000.
- The special election cannot “piggyback” on the same ballot as the state primary elections on Sept. 6 or the presidential election on Nov. 6 without special legislation, according to Rice.
- Arlington residents who are not registered to vote will be able to register up until 20 days before the election (or until Thursday, June 28, assuming the election remains on July 19).
- Voters will be able to vote via absentee ballot.