BELMONT — The Shaker Regional School District will change the long familiar voting hours for its annual school district meetings in order to comply with state law according to Roy Roberts, the school district's moderator.
Roberts says that for decades the voting hours have extended from 6 p.m., an hour before the start of the annual meeting, until around 7:30 p.m.
''We've been doing that ever since I can remember and that's the way it was when I first became moderator in 1990,'' said Roberts.
He said that the new hours for voting for school officials will run from 11 a.m. until around 7:30 p.m. and that he is contacting voting officials in both Belmont and Canterbury to inform them of the change.
The annual school meeting for the Shaker district takes place at Belmont High School and requires supervisors of the checklist from both towns to be present.
Roberts said he learned that the district was in violation of state elections laws through a phone call from a person who told him about a story which appeared in Thursday's Concord Monitor concerning the Merrimack Valley School District, which had similar voting hours.
The story said that in August, Merrimack Valley received a cease and desist order from the N.H. Attorney General's office that the district must follow state law and have the polls open from for a minimum of eight hours.
Roberts said that both Merrimack Valley and the Shaker School District were members of School Administrative Unit 46 for many years until the Shaker District withdrew and formed SAU 80 in the 1990s.
The Shaker District was formed in 1972 by Belmont and Canterbury.
Former Shaker School Board member Tom Goullette, who spent 24 years on the board, said that he thinks the voting hours for the annual meeting were based on what was the practice at that time for the Merrimack Valley School District.
''We modeled our practices after them.'' said Goullette.
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