Midweek Roundup – Town Meeting 2020 Edition

Midweek Roundup – Town Meeting 2020 Edition

Annual Town Meeting 2020

Begins Saturday September 12 at 9:30 AM and will be held outside at Hopkinton High School.  (Note: Town Meeting is typically the first Monday in May, but was delayed this year due to COVID-19.)

Things to Know About Town Meeting during COVID-19

  • The quorum has been reduced to 80 voters.
  • Town Meeting will be held outside at the Hopkinton High School in the “old bus loop” area.
  • There will be one large tent, able to accommodate 200 people with socially distanced seating. Families, or those residing in the same household, will NOT be exempt from the socially distanced seating arrangements – and so we ask for your cooperation in not moving or relocating chairs.
  • In the event of severe inclement weather, the rain date will be Sunday September 13, 2020 at 1:00 PM.

eHop’s 8th Annual Know Your Vote – Socially Distanced Edition

A few short Q&A Videos about Town Meeting with the following town officials and committee members:

Town Meeting is the pinnacle of a year’s worth of board and committee meetings, discussions, proposals, public hearings, site walks, and number crunching on the part of citizen volunteers and town officials.  eHop hosts Know Your Vote to give residents an opportunity to preview all of the issues that are up for a vote, so that we can all show up to Town Meeting informed and ready to engage in the process. 

Hopkinton has an Open Town Meeting form of government and is governed by its Town Charter and bylaws. An open Town Meeting means that all of the town’s voters may vote on all matters. (Some towns have a representative Town Meeting instead, and cities have a City Council instead.) Each town has a different way of running its Town Meeting, depending on its bylaws or charter. The Citizen’s Guide to Town Meetings is available on the state website.

Hopkinton Town Charter 2017

Hopkinton’s General Bylaws & Zoning Bylaws

Who, What, When and Where?

Who Can Vote?

All residents who are registered voters may vote at Town Meeting, but they must be present in person during the meeting to vote. There is no absentee voting for Town Meeting. Please note that if you are new to town or newly eligible to vote (i.e. recently turned 18 or recently became a U.S. citizen) you must register to vote at least twenty days before any Town Meeting, Town or State election or the Presidential Primary in order to vote. You can register online, by mail or in person at the Town Clerk’s office.

What Do We Vote On?

Town Meeting decides three major things:

  • It sets the salaries for the elected officials.
  • It votes to appropriate money to run the town.
  • It votes on the town’s local statutes, which are called by-laws.

The list of articles to be voted is called the Warrant and it is published on the Town website prior to town meeting.

When is Town Meeting?

Due to COVID-19, Annual Town Meeting 2020 will begin on Saturday, September 12 at 9:30 am and will be held outdoors at Hopkinton High School.  Note, per the bylaws, Hopkinton’s Annual Town Meeting typically begins on the first Monday in May at 7:00 PM. Special Town Meetings are sometimes called by the Board of Selectmen if unexpected or time-sensitive issues come up at other times of the year. A petition of 200 voters may also call a Special Town Meeting. By tradition the meeting ends at 11:00 PM and continues on consecutive evenings from 7:00-11:00 PM until all articles are voted. Annual Town Meeting typically lasts 2-3 nights.

Where is Town Meeting?

Due to COVID-19, Annual Town Meeting 2020 will be held outdoors at Hopkinton High School.  Note, by tradition Town Meeting is typically held in the Middle School Auditorium (88 Hayden Rowe St), but occasionally it has been held in the High School Athletic Center if a larger crowd is expected. The meeting location will be specified in the Warrant.

Where can I get more Information?

eHop facilitates a “Know Your Vote” Spotlight Forum on Town Meeting every year, usually the week before Town Meeting.  This is your chance to ask questions and get the answers you need from town officials before Town Meeting. You can also subscribe to our “eHop Updates” emails to receive detailed Town Meeting information in your inbox, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Hopkinton Town Meeting 101

Due to COVID-19, Town Meeting 2020 will begin at 9:30 am on Saturday, September 12th, outdoors at the High School.  Some of the tradition information below does not apply to Town Meeting 2020. See Board of Health – Expectations for Town Meeting.

You do not need to bring anything to Town Meeting. However, many people find that bringing a notebook and pen or pencil is helpful to make notes during the discussions. You may wish to bring a water bottle and a limited number of disposable water bottles will be available at Town Meeting. Many people also find that something to occupy one’s hands is helpful. If you are a knitter, for example, bring a small project. Remember you’ll be there for a long time, so wear comfortable clothes.

Allow time to park and walk to the tent. To actually vote, you must be a Hopkinton resident registered to vote and you must sign in at the voter table. Your name will be checked off and you’ll be given a small piece of paper marked “Voter Pass.” Hold on to this slip of paper; you will need it when it is time for the votes to be counted. There will be a table of handouts and fact sheets regarding all the proposed articles to be voted on from the town boards and committees. There is some terrific information here that may answer many of your questions.

You do not have to be present for the entire town meeting to vote, though the more that participate in whole, the more balanced the democratic process. A quorum of 80 registered voters in town is needed for the transaction of any business. There is no set time to check in. The meeting will be broadcast live via HCAM TV (Comcast 8/Verizon 30/Streaming live at www.hcam.tv), but you MUST be present to vote. You just need to check in prior to the vote, whenever you arrive. You only have to check in once.

The Board of Selectmen presides over the meeting, which is facilitated by the Town Moderator and recorded by the Town Clerk. The format of the meeting itself follows procedures set out in the Town Bylaws (similar to Robert’s Rules of Order). Articles are presented, motions made, discussions ensue. Sometimes it can be a little confusing if an amendment comes up, so keep your ears open. Listen carefully — and you’ll learn a lot.

The committee or board presenting each article may make a brief presentation before each article. The Town Moderator, Thomas Garabedian, will facilitate a question and answer period for registered residents. If you choose to ask a question or comment on an article, step up to one of the microphones located in the auditorium aisles. Wait for the moderator, to recognize you, then state your name and address, and keep your comments brief, civil, and to the point. The comment, question and answer period will end when either #1 the moderator sees that no one else is waiting at the microphone to speak or #2 a voter comes to the microphone, is recognized by the moderator, and says “I move the question” or “I call the question.” The motion to end debate must then be seconded and then adopted by a ⅔ vote.

As for the actual voting, most votes start as a voice vote. The moderator asks all in favor and all opposed. If the voice vote sounds close, it will go to a standing count. The moderator will ask all in favor to stand up. Now is the time to get out that piece of paper you received when you checked-in. Hold out your Voter Pass and remain standing until the counters for your section have indicated that your vote has been recorded.

Although you can leave at any time, we recommend you do NOT leave until the meeting is officially adjourned. Someone may ask for a recount, and if a large group has already left, the outcome could be different, especially if the original vote was close. If you have any other questions about Town Meeting, please ask.