The virtual Town Meeting in March 2021 was an eye-opening experience. Not surprisingly, the reviews of its success or failure were mixed.
Unless directed otherwise by the Governor, our traditional Town Meeting will commence in person on March 8, 2022 at the Andover Elementary/Middle School. During this traditional Town Meeting, a collection of warrant articles covering the Town budget, special expenditures, policy direction, etc. will be presented, openly discussed, possibly amended, and then voted upon.
Of special note will be a warrant article proposing the Town of Andover switch to a voting format that follows NH RSA 40:13 (commonly called SB2). If passed by a 60% affirmative vote, this will impact how we discuss/debate and then vote on warrant articles beginning in 2023.
Public hearings on the subject prior to Town Meeting will be scheduled in February and posted in the coming months. For those that care about this outcome, it is vital that you attend and vote at the upcoming Town Meeting.
What SB2 Changes
What changes when following SB2 is simple to explain. SB2 is a ballot referendum form of voting that follows NH RSA 40:13. In short, SB2 only changes how we vote, not what is voted on.
A meeting similar to a Town Meeting, called the Deliberative Session, is typically held in early February and formulates the warrant articles to be voted upon. All voters will then have an opportunity to vote individually on each warrant article by private ballot a minimum of 30 days later during the all-day voting as part of Town elections on the second Tuesday of March.
Voters may also obtain and vote via absentee ballot. The 30+ day period between the deliberative session and ballot voting gives everyone the opportunity to become informed about the warrant articles.
As with most things in life, neither a traditional Town Meeting nor SB2 is perfect, thus neither will make everyone happy. What’s important is that the voters have the choice to decide which method is best suited for Andover.
An article in the February issue of The Andover Beacon will attempt to outline the pros and cons of each method. This will be available just before the public hearings, in advance of the Town Meeting in March. In the end, it’s hoped that Andover voters in attendance at the Town Meeting will be able to make an informed decision about the method of voting for all in the future.
It’s worth repeating: For those that care about this outcome, it is vital that you attend and vote at the upcoming Town Meeting.