GUILFORD — Guilford residents won’t see the names of 17 people vying for 10 justice of the peace positions on their general ballots to be cast by Nov. 8.
“Due to unexpected circumstances, the justice of the peace candidates were not submitted in time to be placed on the original ballot ...,” states a notice posted to the town’s website.
Because of the omission, the town is offering a separate ballot with all 17 names on it.
“I have been communicating with the elections division about this situation,” wrote Town Clerk Penny Marine in an email to the Reformer. “We are well within our means to have a separate justice of the peace ballot and a notice has been posted in three places in town, along with notice on the town website and Front Porch Forum.”
Secretary of State Jim Condos told the Reformer state law does not require candidates for justice of the peace be placed on the general election ballots.
The Secretary of State’s Office oversees all the elections and prints ballots for the towns.
“As a longstanding practice and courtesy to municipalities, our office has allowed for the printing of JP candidates on the general election ballot if the clerks provide us with those names,” wrote Condos. “But it is not required by the law, and each election cycle there are between 25 and 30 municipalities who do not have their JP candidates printed on the ballot.”
Condos wrote that the town of Guilford did not submit the names of its JP candidates before the printing of its ballot.
“When the town clerk reached out to our office for advice on how to proceed, we advised the clerk on the requirements of the law, that a ballot must be prepared, and a warning must be issued to voters,” wrote Condos.
However, the decision to mail a local election ballot is the responsibility of the Select Board.
“In this case the Guilford Select Board could elect or decline to mail a JP ballot to all voters,” wrote Condos. “Otherwise, as per state law, they must be made available to voters early upon request, and will be provided to voters at the polls on election day.”
Zon Eastes, chairman of the Guilford Select Board, said this has not yet been discussed by the members of the board.
Condos also noted that unless the justice of the peace candidates’ names appear on the general election ballot, the creation of a local ballot and warning does not fall under the purview of his office.
Republican candidates on the ballot include A. Lyle Howe Jr., Patricia Bullock, Connie Burton, Kathy W. Clark, Richard Clark, Jason Herron and Doug Hunt.
Democratic candidates include Roberta Bremmer, Eastes, Todd Mandell, Patricia Haine, Lori Nelson and Cathi Wilken.
Independent candidates include Anna Klein, Amanda Franklin, Don McLean and Mary M. Wissman.
Marine said in the six elections she has overseen, this is the first where she’s seen more than 10 candidates on the justice of the peace ballot.
Marine also said the bubbles on the ballot are not filled in, as it might appear on the website or in a scan.
The Guilford town clerk is, by statute, the official operator and overseer of elections.
The Board of Civil Authority is made up of the 10 justices and the five members of the Select Board, assist the town clerk with elections, but it does not have any actual authority to control the election preparations.
Justices of the peace review the voter checklist to determine if its current and deliver and count ballots. And while they also solemnize marriages, they also administer oaths and decide property tax assessment appeals as members of boards of abatements.
To receive a justice of the peace ballot, call Marine at 802-254-6857, ext. 101, or email her at email@example.com.