In response to COVID-19, the Legislature in HB1129 and the Governor in Executive Order #83 established 2 approaches to 2021 Town Meetings: in-person and remote/information sessions with drive-through voting.  In-person meetings are to adhere to public safety guidelines but should feel familiar to voters.  The second option involves two remote information sessions held over the internet and telephonically.  Those sessions could allow public comment.  In the week between those sessions, the public is encouraged to provide their thinking to the governing bodies: the Selectmen and the School Board.  But in this option, the governing bodies determine the warrant articles to appear on the ballot.  As a consequence, in contrast to an in-person Town Meeting, the voters do not have the ability to directly determine the warrant articles, since there is no voting process during the remote/information sessions to amend or petition warrant articles.  Voters ultimately decide, but only on ballot voting day on warrant articles written by the governing bodies and on their approval of the process.

The governing bodies choose the Town Meeting option to be followed.  This is an important, difficult decision, weighing public safety and health, voter participation at in-person Town Meeting, and the voters' ability to directly affect warrant articles.  It is already stimulating debate and angst in many towns.  What's your thinking?

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