For the Public

About Town Meeting

Resources to help you understand Town Meeting Law, Procedure, etc.

Materials Prepared by the MMA  Education Committee to Assist Educators in Teaching Students About Town Meeting

Parliamentary Procedure

Town Meetings serve as the legislative component of local government in many communities throughout New England. Town Meetings operate in accordance with rules of procedure established by general laws, local bylaws, and local customs and traditions. As part of their bylaws, many towns reference a standard parliamentary handbook to provide for most of their rules of procedure. Use of a standard handbook to supplement a few local rules of procedure defined in bylaws provides participants in Town Meeting with a complete framework that all can readily learn and understand.

The Massachusetts Moderators Association first published in 1962 a handbook of parliamentary law called Town Meeting Time: A Handbook of Parliamentary Law that focuses especially on the operation of  town meetings.

You can order a copy of the 3rd (current) edition of Town Meeting Time online by clicking HERE.

Or download a printable form to order by mail HERE.

Town Meeting Time is also available in many public libraries throughout Massachusetts.

Town Meeting Videos

The Massachusetts Moderators Association has produced two educational videos to encourage voters to participate in their Town Meetings across Massachusetts. One video entitled Town Meeting and You describes the experiences of voters in open Town Meetings. It helps to familiarize those who have not previously attended Town Meeting with the key elements of this form of local government, and it serves as a refresher for those who have.

The second video entitled Voice of the People: The Representative Town Meeting includes some of the same content, since, in many respects, open and representative Town Meetings operate in similar fashion. The video describes, in addition, the role of town meeting members who are elected by the voters in each precinct to represent them and vote on their behalf on all matters decided by town meeting.

Each video runs approximately thirty minutes. Click on the following links to view.

Town Meeting and You

Voice of the People: The Representative Town Meeting