Town Meeting FAQs
- How to place an article on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant?
A private article may be submitted for inclusion on the Annual Town Meeting Warrant on petition of ten (10) registered voters of the Town. The Warrant for the Annual Town Meeting is opened and closed by the Board of Selectmen. The Warrant is typically open from early November through late January. Please contact the Town Clerk's Office for the precise dates for the current year. Petitions for private warrant articles are submitted to the Town Clerk's Office for certification of signatures. After the articles have been placed on the Warrant, the articles go through a series of committee and department reviews and hearings. Different boards and committees are responsible for a report at Town Meeting of their findings depending on whose jurisdiction the article will fall under. For instance, all money articles are reviewed by the Finance Committee at hearings that take place after the closing of the Warrant. A report on their findings are given at Town Meeting when the article is addressed. Residents are welcome to attend these hearings to explain their article to the committee. More discussion will be generated on the floor of Town Meeting before any action is taken by the Town Meeting members.
- How to place an article on a Special Town Meeting Warrant?
From time to time, the Selectmen may call a Special Town Meeting. Special Town Meetings are called for limited purposes. These meetings, because of the nature of the articles, are usually called over a shorter period of time and the Warrant is not open as long. To place an article on an upcoming Special Town Meeting Warrant, the signatures of one hundred (100) registered voters of the Town are required, but otherwise follows the procedures above. Voters may petition the Selectmen to call a Special Town Meeting and to insert in the Warrant all subjects specified in the petition. This requires the signatures of two hundred (200) registered voters of the Town, but otherwise follows the procedures above.
- How to attend Town Meeting?
Town Meetings are usually held on the campus of Andover High School on Shawsheen Road in the Collins Center for the Performing Arts Auditorium. Registered voters may enter the hall after receiving a meeting member sticker from their precinct election official. Each registered voter that attends Town Meeting must have their name crossed off the voter list before he/she can enter the hall. Those not registered to vote may attend the meeting but may not vote. They must sign in with an election official before entering the meeting. The Moderator will take a vote of the meeting to allow non registered voters to enter the hall. All non registered voters who are not Town Officials will sit in a special section of the Hall so as not to interfere with the voting process.
- Who can attend Town Meeting?
Any resident that is registered to vote in the Town of Andover may attend and vote at Town Meeting. The deadline to register to vote in Town Meeting is 10 days prior to the start of Town Meeting.
Individuals who are not registered to vote may attend Town Meeting, but are not eligible to vote and will be asked to sit in a designated section.
- How to move a Warrant article at Town Meeting?
All warrant articles, including private warrant articles, must be moved by a registered voter on the floor of Town Meeting. Articles are taken up in the order they appear in the Warrant. For each meeting there is always a final date for voter registration to enable residents of the Town who are not already voters to register to vote so they may attend and vote at the meeting. Contact the Town Clerk's Office for voter registration details or check with this website and your local newspapers.
- How to be recognized to speak at Town Meeting?
A voter may be recognized by standing and saying, "Mister/Madam Moderator." Before making any remarks the speaker must give his or her name and address.
In certain cases, particularly when many Town Meeting voters are seeking to be recognized to speak on an article, they may form lines at "Pro" and "Con" microphones. This measure is used at the discretion of the moderator.
- How to Make a Motion & Amend an Article?
Amendments must be presented to the Moderator in writing (three copies). After discussion on the amendment the Moderator calls for a vote on the amendment only. If passed the original motion as amended is voted upon. Amendments to amendments are usually ruled out of order. Motions or amendments which differ materially from that printed in the Warrant must be given to the voters in writing at the time of consideration, or shown on a screen readable by all voters. Motions to table are used rarely.
Types of Motions:
•Budget questions - Questions on the budget are encouraged. A voter may address the Moderator on any line item in the finance committee report. Amendments can be offered and will be voted on individually.
•Declaring the Vote - The Moderator may decide the sense of the meeting by a voice vote. If in doubt, or, if the decision is questioned, a standing vote may be called for. Depending on the subject matter, a motion may only require a simple majority to pass, or it may require a 2/3 or even greater vote to pass.
•Privileged Motions - A speaker may be interrupted only for a point of order, a question of the legality of a motion, or a question to clarify information.
•Reconsideration - Reconsideration is rarely used and only to correct an oversight or an illegality
•Visual Displays - Voters who wish to show slides or present other visual material should make arrangements before the meeting. Contact the Town Clerk's Office for additional information. •Adjourn / Dissolve - A meeting may adjourn to a later time and a different place, but when a meeting is dissolved it is finished. A meeting may not be dissolved until every article in the Warrant has been acted upon.
•Pro/Con Microphones - The Moderator will sometimes call for the use of Pro/Con Microphones to help organize the debate on controversial articles.
•Time Limits - A motion could be made at the opening of Town Meeting to limit the time for presentations to five (5) minutes and speakers to the article three (3) minutes (or any combination thereof). A motion for time limits is usually made to cover the entire duration of the meeting. It is generally a good idea to use this as a guide for any presentations to Town Meeting members.
- What is the Warrant?
The Warrant is the agenda used for Town Meeting. It is comprised of a series of articles set at the discretion of the Select Board (in the case of Town-sponsored articles) or by citizen petition. The full Warrant will be posted on the Town's website in advance of Town Meeting at: andoverma.gov/townmeeting
- How do you check-in for Town Meeting?
Residents are required to check-in at a table corresponding with their voting precinct in order to vote at Town Meeting. Residents are advised to arrive early to accommodate the check-in process, and to be aware of their precinct number before arriving to avoid delays. Precinct information can be verified online at: andoverma.gov/precincts
At check-in, voters will be given a sticker indicating that they are a verified Town Meeting. This sticker must be visible through the duration of Town Meeting to ensure that your vote is counted.