What is Town Meeting?

A Town Meeting is both an event and an entity. As an event, it is a gathering of a town’s eligible voters, and is referred to as “the Town Meeting.” As an entity, it is the legislative body for towns in Maine, and is referred to simply as “Town Meeting.” So you may say, “I went to the Town Meeting. Town Meeting approved the budget.”

In Minot, we have an annual Town Meeting the first Saturday in March to approve the budget and consider any ordinance additions or changes. At times, there may be a Special Town Meeting. This is usually because something is being considered after the annual Town Meeting or it is a time sensitive matter that needs to be considered. These can be called by the Board of Selectmen or through a petition of the residents (10% of the voters who voted at the last gubernatorial election). In either case, the requirements under State Law Title 30-A will be followed. These meetings are infrequent and will be noticed in the usual places (newspaper, Town Office, Facebook... ect) in order to get the best turnout possible. 

 What is a Warrant?

The warrant lists a meeting’s time, place, and agenda. A warrant is also known as a warning. A Town Meeting’s action is not valid unless the subject was listed on the warrant. Each actionable item is called an Article, which is a written description of what the voters are being asked to consider. 

When is the Warrant available?

At least seven (7) days before Town Meeting. It is posted at the Town Office, the Town website, and contained within the Town Report, which is distributed around Town and available at Town Meeting. 

Can anyone place an Article on the Warrant?

It is advised that anyone with an issue that they wish to be considered at Town Meeting go before the Board of Selectmen. If the Selectmen do not place the Article on the Warrant, the individual(s) may petition to have it included following the requirements of State Law, MRS Title 30-A.  


 What is the Board of Selectmen?

Voters elect a selectman or selectwoman to the Board of Selectmen, which has five members. Selectmen are a Town’s executive officers. Selectmen are authorized to call a Town Meeting provided that they have posted a warrant. In Minot, our Board of Selectmen hires and supervises a person, who, in turn, runs the day-to-day operations of the town and supervises town workers. This person is known as the Town Administrator.

Minot elects our Selectmen the night before Town Meeting, which is not an actual meeting but is in fact an election by secret ballot that takes place at the polls. This satisfies State requirements for holding an “annual town meeting to elect officials”.

 How does Town Meeting operate?

Is there a quorum (minimum number) needed for Town Meeting?

In an open Town Meeting, there is no minimum number of voters who may conduct business. If only a single citizen appears, the Town Meeting may start and conduct business.

Who may attend?

Any member of the public may attend Town Meeting. However, only registered voters are permitted to speak unless the voters allow a non-resident to speak. In any case, the Moderator  will guide the meeting to ensure that it moves through the Articles efficiently and fairly. 

Who may vote?

Registered voters for the Town of Minot. 

 How do I speak at Town Meeting?

If you wish to speak, stand up and wait for the moderator to acknowledge you. When the moderator acknowledges you, state your name, and your address.

Speak about the topic being discussed. Don’t speak about a previous topic (unless there is a motion to rescind or reconsider).

Make your comments to the moderator, not to the Town Meeting or individual Town Meeting Members. For example, do not say, “I have something to say to the Town Meeting,” or “Mr. Smith, you said something as a Town Meeting Member that I want to respond to.” Instead, say something like, “Mr. Moderator, these are my thoughts on this article.”

You may counter a previous speaker’s argument, but do not attack a previous speaker. For example, do not say, “The previous speaker is dead wrong.” Instead, say something like, “I disagree with the argument we just heard.” 

Since you make your comments to the moderator, you may not directly debate or ask questions of a previous speaker. For example, do not say, “Mr. Johnson, you say that we should make another exception to the zoning law. I’m asking you: When do we draw the line and stop making exceptions?” Instead, say something like, “Mr. Moderator, we have heard the argument that we should make just one more exception to the zoning law. But I say it’s time to stop making exceptions.”

 How do I vote?

In Minot, registered voters are given a card upon checking in with the ballot clerks at Town Meeting. This card will be raised to represent your vote on the various matters. You can abstain, or choose not to vote, on a particular matter by not displaying your card when the moderator asks you to do so. 

Secret ballots. Voters at the Town Meeting can call for a secret ballot. In some situations, State statute requires secret ballot voting. In that case, ballots will be handed out by the Town Clerk and assistants. Voters will mark their ballots and come forward to deposit the ballots in ballot boxes. The Town Clerk and assistants will count the ballots and announce the results. Town Meeting can motion to move onto other warrant articles while the ballots are being counted.

What if I do not think that a vote was correctly called by the Moderator?

Stand immediately and say one of the following: “I doubt it,” “I doubt the vote,” or “I question it.” The Moderator will follow the rules of the meeting as announced at the outset of the meeting (usually the Maine Moderators Manual). The moderator must then verify the vote by polling the voters or by dividing the meeting or by the method provided for by the municipal by-laws.


 What is 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 elected in Article 1 of our Town Meeting warrant. 

 How is the annual Budget considered?

The Selectmen print and distribute information regarding appropriations before the Town Meeting as part of the Warrant included in the Town Report. Each financial article has a Selectmen recommendation and a Budget Committee recommendation. The recommendations may be the same or different.

The moderator reads the warrant article. A motion for the Article needs to be made by a voter. Unless the Article states that the appropriation is "not to exceed" a certain amount, the motion made can be higher or lower than the recommendation by the Selectmen/Budget Committee. After a motion is made, discussion and debate can ensues, particularly if the recommendations are different.

Town Meeting voters can make amendments from the floor. There has to be a “second” and then the Moderator calls for a vote to see if the assembled voters want to amend the Warrant Article and modify the numbers. If the vote for the amendment succeeds, the warrant article is amended and the Moderator calls for a vote. If the amendment vote fails, the Moderator will call for a vote on the recommendation that has been moved. The moderator continues this through all the Articles until all of the Warrant Articles have been acted on. 

 What does the Budget Committee do?

The Budget Committee reviews and makes recommendations on the Selectmen’s Budget in the months before the Town Meeting starts and are included in the Warrant. Its recommendations are advisory. Members of the Budget Committee are volunteers who are appointed by the Selectmen.