Town Meeting is coming to your town. This direct-democratic opportunity has been happening since Colonial times before the American Revolution. Access to this kind of local self-governance has continued to date. Some towns have elected the SB 2 alternative to traditional town meeting because of the growth of their municipalities.The SB 2 form of local government requires two meetings, the first is the deliberative session discussion of warrant articles where amendments are considered, and the second day is voting day when the votes on the warrant articles are taken. Traditional town meeting is a one-day session for the deliberation of the articles where amendments can be made to the warrant articles followed by a call to vote by the moderator for each article on the warrant.
When a resident participates in this honorable right, they are expressing their civic duty as well as recognizing their elected town officers who pledge to uphold the New Hampshire State Constitution and the laws of the state. Ideally, we expect our municipal elections to protect the health, safety and welfare of the communities they serve through local democracy by the consent of the governed.
Town Meeting votes express the importance of direct-democratic decision-making to pass ordinance warrant articles that govern our municipalities. It must be recognized that all warrant articles are held to the scrutiny of Dillon's Rule, the General Court powers of pre-emption to override any and all local votes that do not please the state.
Town Meeting is a pure form of a quorum of the body politic, by a municipality making laws from the bottom up and can be the healthiest redress to our representative body of the General Court. The representatives of the General Court need to be informed by their local constituency. Instead of being subordinate to Dillon’s Rule, town meeting initiatives should be the final decision-making authority in the doctrine of checks and balances of the three offices of the General Court. This is the fundamental foundation of a republican form of government. Our democracy will not stand up to what we have been educated to believe unless the principals are understood and actualized.
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