Town Meeting Conduct and Procedures

Speaking at Town Meeting

  • When rerognized by the Moderator, state name and address;
  • Speak only to the motion or question before the meeting. The Moderator may forbid speech that he/she considers to be an interruption, indulging in personalities, or improper;
  • All questions and comments must be addressed to the chair, not to another individual;
  • A vote ends all discussion on that motion.

Warrant Articles

The Warrant is the agenda for Town Meeting. An article in the Warrant is taken up at Town Meeting by a vote upon a motion. The Moderator will call for a motion; when it is made, it becomes the Main Motion. The article in the Warrant defines the limit or scope of the subject matter to be contained in the motion and in any subsequent amendments. All Main Motions and amendments must be submitted in writing to the Moderator.

Main Motions

Main Motions under articles are taken one at a time, to be decided: Yes or No. Motions must be seconded, and may be debated, amended, deferred or otherwise disposed of. Votes are by 2/3, 9/10, or a majority, depending on the type of article. Main Motions yield to Subsidiary Motions (in ranking order), Incidental Motions and to Privileged Motions, whether or not they are relevant.*

* Withdrawals of Main Motions may be made by majority vote or unanimous consent before a vote is taken. Once a motion has been voted, it may not be withdrawn. A Main Motion may be withdrawn before it has been discussed. “Move to take no action …” Motions may be reconsidered, but reconsideration is not customary or encouraged.

Subsidiary Motions

A Subsidiary Motion relates to the Main Motion . Subsidiary Motions are ranked, and a motion of lower rank may not be considered while a higher ranking motion is pending. A motion to end debate, or a motion to “Move the Previous Question,” must be voted before the meeting can move on to voting on the motion itself.

Incidental Motions

Incidental Motions relate to the conduct of meetings, and are not ranked . Incidental Motions are considered and disposed of before the motion out of which they arise. A speaker may be interrupted for a Point of Order. “Mr. Moderator, I rise to a Point of Order.” Questioner remains silently standing until recognized by the chair.

Privileged Motions

Privileged Motions relate to adjournment: to adjourn to no future date; to recess; to adjourn to a fixed time. A Question of Privilege relates to the rights and safety of the attendees, and questioner may interrupt speaker. For example: The building is on fire.