Oak Bluffs selectmen want new protocol for election notice


Oak Bluffs selectmen directed town administrator Michael Dutton and town clerk Deborah Ratcliff to agree to a specific procedure and timeline for posting elections and present the plan for consideration at next Tuesday’s regular selectmen’s meeting.

Selectmen called the special meeting Monday evening to address the May 26 Proposition 2.5 override election.

Town officials concede that vote was not posted as required by Massachusetts election law, which calls for a signed warrant submitted to the town clerk 31 days in advance. The election must be posted in at least two public places seven days in advance. Town counsel Ron Rappaport said neither of those requirements was satisfied.

From the opening gavel, chairman Kathy Burton set a tone looking forward.

“We have another opportunity for improvement,” Ms. Burton said. “I’d love to see us work together to prevent this from happening in the future.”

Mr. Dutton said he operated on the assumption that posting notice of the special election before the annual town meeting satisfied the requirements of the law.

“I know now that is incorrect,” Mr. Dutton told selectmen. “That’s specifically my responsibility, my office’s responsibility. I take full responsibility for that.”

Selectmen Greg Coogan appealed for town employees to come up with a plan that emphasized cooperation.

“If we’re not designing this so everybody is pulling in the same direction, trying to help each other, then this is a waste of our effort,” selectman Greg Coogan said. “If somebody makes a mistake, the other obviously picks them up and helps them out. That’s what the taxpayers want, they want us to be efficient, they want everybody working in the same direction.”