NH AG objects to Claremont referendum ballot measure

By PATRICK O’GRADY

Valley News Correspondent

Published: 01-26-2023 5:24 PM

CLAREMONT — The state Attorney General’s office, the Department of Revenue Administration and the Secretary of State’s office have rejected a petition for a ballot question that, if approved, would change the Claremont City Charter and allow for voter referendums on certain issues.

Resident Sam Killay, who led the petition drive last fall and obtained 30 signatures, said Wednesday evening the measure’s proponents would address the objections by the state and resubmit the petition with the hope that the question can be put to voters on the November ballot.

“That is the intent,” Killay said, adding that the AG’s office has given them a “road map” on what changes are needed.

The letter from Deputy Attorney General Counsel Myles Matteson of the Election Law Unit raised three objections to the petition submitted last November.

The petition did not meet the requirement of state law which states that the petition has to be “sworn-to or notarized” to constitute required affidavits from the signers.

“Other than the lack of an affidavit that is required under RSA 49-B:5,II-a, the petition appears to otherwise comply with that statutory requirements,” Matteson wrote.

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The second objection states that the petition does not make clear how it would amend the Claremont City Charter and finally, Matteson said that the “language of the submitted petition appears to be too ambiguous as written to ensure compliance with state law.”

Matteson wrote that the words “measure” and “initiative petition” in the submitted petition are not adequately defined and he suggested amended language.

“For example, the petition language could use ‘ordinance’ or a similar phrase to clarify that any petitioned item would not be an amendment to the charter, and therefore would not circumvent the procedures for amending or revising a charter,” Matteson wrote.

“Due to the form of the petition not meeting requirements (of state law), the lack of description as to how the petition would amend the Claremont City Charter and the ambiguities in the operation of the initiative process as drafted, the reviewing agencies object to this Claremont Charter Petition,” Matteson concluded in his two-page letter sent to the city earlier this month.

Patrick O’Grady can be reached at pogclmt@gmail.com.

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