The main reason this paper is late is because I lost the sheets with the requirements for
this, so I am basically free writing my paper. Before beginning to tell you what i saw at this town
meeting I attended in Randolph, I will first start by explaining the procedures of the way they do
town meetings. I spoke with the "moderator", Jon Lovell. He explained to me that the entire
council is advised by 111 select citizens of the town.
These citizens serve on 13 different committees. He explained some of the procedures of the meeting as well, and told me where I can pick up a pamphlet on the rules of the town meetings in Randolph. He explained his job as a moderator. Generally, a moderator's job is to run the Town Meeting. Specifically, the moderator declares the outcome of all voice votes.
Moderators are initially elected at the Town Election. The term of office for a moderator is three years. When the elected moderator is absent, a temporary moderator may be elected at the Town Meeting. The moderator, with the approval of the Town Meeting voters, may also appoint an "assistant moderator" to help in the running of the Town Meeting. During Randolph Town Meeting, the moderator is the person at the podium. Lovell went on to explain the other jobs of people who play an important role in the meeting.
Selectmen are the town's executive officers. Voters elect them to the Board of Selectmen, which has 5 members. Selectmen are authorized to call a Town Meeting provided that they have posted a warrant. The Randolph Board of Selectmen choose and supervise the Town Administrator, who, in turn, runs the town and supervises town workers.
At the Town Meeting, the Town Clerk records all votes. The Randolph Town Clerk is appointed by the Board of Selectmen. In the event of the entire Board of Selectmen resigning, the town clerk is authorized to call a town meeting. During Randolph Town Meetings, the Town Clerk sits at the table near the Moderator.
The town counsel is a lawyer who works for the town and is appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The town counsel helps prepare the warrant. During the Town Meeting, the town counsel answers legal questions that might arise. The town counsel sits next to the Board of Selectmen table. The finance committee helps prepare the budget in the months before the Annual Town Meeting. Its recommendations are advisory and those recommendations are presented with each article on the warrant.
The finance committee consists of 11 members who are appointed by the Moderator. During Randolph Town Meetings, the F inCom members are seated at the front of the room. Voters in a Town Meeting vote by various methods. Many Town Meeting votes are by voice. The moderator asks that all in favor say "Yay." Then the moderator asks that all opposed say "Nay." The moderator listens and decides which side prevailed. Another method is by show of hands.
The moderator asks that all in favor raise their hands. Then the moderator asks that all opposed raise their hands. The moderator looks at the number of hands in general and decided which side prevailed. Typically when a voice or show of hands is inconclusive, voters are asked to stand if they are in favor of the item at hand. The voters are then counted. Next, all voters who are opposed are asked to stand.
They are counted. Certain votes are done with secret ballots. The moderator or at least 25 of the voters present can ask that a vote be done by secret ballot. The request for a secret ballot must come before an open vote has taken place. Secret ballots are small sheets of paper that are numbered and handed to voters when they check in before the meeting.
The number on ballot is very important. You should pay attention to the moderator because votes submitted with the wrong number will not be counted. There are votes that cannot be taken by voice. The town's by-laws require certain votes have the approval of 2/3 rds of the voters, not just a simple majority. Unless the voice vote is unanimous in favor of an article, the moderator will find it hard to determine if more than 2/3 of the voters said "yea." In those cases a show of hands or standing vote will be used. At this town meeting, it seemed that the only focus was determining the priority of school funding difficulty.
The votes taken were only based on what they will focus on first in the future. School funding was the subject voted with the highest priority. Next was teacher profession development, student assessments, school performance accountability, reading incentives, textbooks, kindergarten enrollment date, and finally school technology.