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Town meeting is an example of  grass roots democracy, because it allows residents to participate in the running of local government.   Massachusetts town meetings must held between February and May unless otherwise provided by special law or town charter.  The items to be discussed are presented in a document called the warrant.  The warrant is prepared by the Board of Selectmen, and citizens have the right to petition the Board of Selectmen to place articles on the warrant.  The general purpose of the meeting is to establish an annual operating town budget and to consider amendments to the local bylaws.  The town moderator presides over the annual town meeting as well as any special town meetings. The town clerk is responsible for keeping a record of the meeting.  Some towns conduct an open town meeting which means that all of the town voters may vote on all matters.  Other towns have a representative town meeting where voters elect town meeting members to represent citizens by precinct.  For more information, see the Trial Court Law Libraries’ law about page on Town Meetings.

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