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Constitution for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts--1780 - SECTION II.--SENATE

Article Index

Article I. a [There shall be annually elected, by the freeholders and other inhabitants of this commonwealth, qualified as in this constitution is provided, forty persons to be councillors and senators for the year ensuing their election; to be chosen by the inhabitants of the districts into which the commonwealth may, from time to time, be divided by the general court for that purpose: and the general court in assigning the numbers to be elected by the respective districts, shall govern themselves by the proportion of the public taxes paid by the said districts; and timely make known to the inhabitants of the commonwealth the limits of each district, and the number of councillorsb and senators to be chosen therein; provided that the number of such districts shall never be less than thirteen; and that no district be so large as to entitle the same to choose more than six senators.

And the several counties in this commonwealth shall, until the general court shall determine it, necessary to alter the said districts, be districts for the choice of councillors and senators, (except that the counties of Dukes Comity and Nantucket shall form one district for that purpose) and shall elect, the following number for councillors and senators, viz.:--Suffolk, six; Essex, six; Middlesex, five; Hampshire, four: Plymouth, three: Barnstable, one; Bristol, three; York, two; Dukes County and Nantucket, one; Worcester, five; Cumberland, one; Lincoln, one: Berkshire, two.]

II. The senate shall be the first branch of the legislature; and the senators shall be chosen in the following manner, viz.: there shall be a meeting on the c [first Monday in April,] annually, forever, of the inhabitants of each town in the several counties of this commonwealth; to be called by the selectmen, and warned in due course of law, at least seven days before the c [first Monday in April,] for the purpose of electing persons to be senators and councillors;d [and at such meetings every male inhabitant of twenty-one years of age and upwards, having a freehold estate within the commonwealth, of the annual income of three pounds, or any estate of the value of sixty pounds, shall have a right to give in his vote for the senators for the district of which he is an inhabitant.] And to remove all doubts concerning the meaning of the word "inhabitant" in this constitution, every person shall be considered as an inhabitant, for the purpose of electing and being elected into any office, or place within this state, in that town, district, or plantation where he dwelleth, or hath his home.e

The selectmen of the several towns shall preside at such meetings impartially; and shall receive the votes of all the inhabitants of such townsf present and qualified to vote for senators, and shall sort and count them in open town meeting, and in presence of the town clerk, who shall make a fair record, in presence of the selectmen, and in open town meeting, of the name of every person voted for, and of the number of votes against his name: and a fair copy of this record shall be attested by the selectmen and the town clerk, and shall be sealed up, directed to the secretary of the commonwealth for the time being, with a superscription, expressing the purport of the contents thereof, and delivered by the town clerk of such towns, to the sheriff of the county in which such town lies, thirty days at least beforeg [the last Wednesday in May] annually; or it shall be delivered into the secretary’s office seventeen days at least before the saidg [last Wednesday in May:] and the sheriff of each county shall deliver all such certificates by him received, into the secretary’s office, seventeen days before the saidg [last Wednesday in May.]

And the inhabitants of plantations unincorporated; qualified as this constitution provides, who are or shall be empowered and required to assess taxes upon themselves toward the support of government, shall have the same privilege of voting for councillors and senators in the plantations where they reside, as town inhabitants have in their respective towns; and the plantation meetings for that purpose shall be held annuallyh [on the same first Monday in April], at such place in the plantations, respectively, as the assessors thereof shall direct; which assessors shall have like authority for notifying the electors, collecting and returning the votes, as the selectmen and town clerks have in their several towns, by this constitution. And all other persons living in places unincorporated (qualified as aforesaid) who shall be assessed to the support of government by the assessors of an adjacent town, shall have the privilege of giving in their votes for councillors and senators in the town where they shall be assessed, and be notified of the place of meeting by the selectmen of the town where they shall be assessed, for that purpose accordingly.

III. And that there may be a due convention of senators on the i [last Wednesday in May] annually, the governor with five of the council, for the time being, shall, as soon as may be, examine the returned copies of such records: and fourteen days before the said day he shall issue his summons to such persons as shall appear to be chosen by j [a majority of] voters, to attend on that day, and take their seats accordingly: provided, nevertheless, that for the first year the said returned copies shall be examined by the president and five of the council of the former constitution of government; and the said president shall, in like manner, issue his summons to the persons so elected, that they may take their seats as aforesaid.

IV. The senate shall be the final judge of the elections, returns and qualifications of their own members, as pointed out in the constitution; and shall, k [on the said last Wednesday in May] annually, determine and declare who are elected by each district to be senators j [by a majority of votes; and in case there shall not appear to be the full number of senators returned elected by a majority of votes for any district, the deficiency shall be supplied in the following manner, viz.: The members of the house of representatives, and such senators as shall be declared elected, shall take the names of such persons as shall be found to have the highest number of votes in such district, and not elected, amounting to twice the number of senators wanting, if there be so many voted for; and out of these shall elect by ballot a number of senators sufficient to fill up the vacancies in such district; and in this manner all such vacancies shall be filled up in every district of the commonwealth; and in like manner all vacancies m the senate, arising by death, removal out of the state, or otherwise, shall be supplied as soon as may be, after such vacancies shall happen.]l

V. Provided, nevertheless, that no person shall be capable of being elected as a senator, m [who is not seised of his own right of a freehold, within this commonwealth, of the value of three hundred pounds at least, or possessed of personal estate to the value of six hundred pounds at least, or both to the amount of the same sum, and] who has not been an inhabitant of this commonwealth for the space of five years immediately preceding his election, and, at the time of his election, he shall be an inhabitant in the district for which he shall be chosen.

VI. The senate shall have power to adjourn themselves, provided such adjournments do not exceed two days at a time.

VII. The senate shall choose its own president, appoint its own officers, and determine its own rules of proceedings.

VIII. The senate shall be a court with full authority to hear and determine all impeachments made by the house of representatives, against any officer or officers of the commonwealth, for misconduct and mal-administration in their offices. But previous to the trial of every impeachment the members of the senate shall respectively be sworn, truly and impartially to try and determine the charge in question, according to evidence: Their judgment, however, shall not extend further than to removal from office and disqualification to hold or enjoy any place of honor, trust, or profit, under this commonwealth; but the party so convicted shall be, nevertheless, liable to indictment, trial, judgment, and punishment, according to the laws of the land.

IX. n [Not less than sixteen members of the senate shall constitute a quorum for doing business.]

a Superseded by amendments, Art. XIII, which was also superseded by amendments, Art. XXII.

b For provision as to councillors, see amendments, Art. XVI.

c Time of election changed by amendments. Art X, and changed again by amendments, Art. XV. As to cities, see amendments, Art. II.

d These provisions as to the qualifications of voters, superseded by amendments, Arts. III, XX, XXVIII.

e Word "inhabitant" defined. See also amendments, Arts. XXIII., which was annulled by Art. XXVI.

f As to cities, see amendments, Art. II.

g Time changed to first Wednesday of January. See amendments, Art. X.

h Time of election changed by amendments, Art. XV. Assessors to notify, etc.

i Time changed to first Wednesday in January by amendments, Art. X.

j Majority changed to plurality by amendments, Art. XIV.

k Time changed to first Wednesday of January by amendments, Art. X.

l Changed to election by people. See amendments, Art. XXIV.

m Property qualification abolished. See amendments, Art. XIII. For further provision as to residence, see also amendments, Art. XXII.

n See amendments, Arts. XXII. and XXXIII.

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