The first moderator, in 1726, was Jotham Odiorne. Moderators generally alternated every other year, although the same people sometimes repeated over several years. The Town kept the position within a close-knit group of familiar Rye names: Odiorne, Philbrick, Jenness, Locke, Parsons, Goss and Brown. Up to 1903, only a handful of other families held the office.
Current moderators tend to serve for multiple terms. Today, Rye’s Town Moderator is elected by town vote to a two year term. As specified by RSA 40:4, the moderator presides over our Deliberative Session each February; sets the rules of the meeting within the law (subject to being over-ruled by the Deliberative Session of those assembled); controls the flow and subject of discussion (based on the Warrant, including budgetary Articles); maintains an orderly meeting; and announces the results of each vote.
The Town Moderator also oversees the town vote each March, as well as all elections and primaries for local, state and national offices that are held in Rye. At the town vote, the Moderator opens and closes the polls, and regulates the business that occurs there between the opening and closing to ensure the integrity of the voting process.
The Town Clerk, with the Moderator’s help, sets up the polling place at the request of the Board of Selectmen. The Moderator ensures that the election process complies with state and federal statutes; keeps the polling place free from electioneering influence; works with the Supervisors of the Checklist to review challenges to voters; processes absentee ballots; oversees the counting of the ballots; and reports the results of the vote after the counting is complete. The current Town Moderator is Bob Eaton elected to serve until 2014. He can be reached at [email protected].