Making Democracy Work

Town Meeting Facts

Falmouth Fall Town Meeting will begin November 17, 2014.

Falmouth Spring Town Meeting was completed April 9, 2014.

Town Meeting Information

The Town Clerk has posted information about Town Meeting on the Town of Falmouth website. Click here to access that Town Meeting Information, including the warrant.

Town Meeting Procedures

The Falmouth Town Meeting is held annually in the spring on a date fixed by bylaw, and annually in the fall on a date chosen by the Board of Selectmen. The standing and powers of both these meetings is that of an Annual Town Meeting. The Board of Selectmen shall notify members of the next annual Town Meeting before the completion of each annual Town Meeting.

Special Town Meetings are called by the Selectmen when considered necessary or upon written request of at least 100 registered voters. Town Meeting consists of 27 members elected from each of the nine precincts for three year overlapping terms.

The Warrant is the agenda for Town Meeting. It consists of articles that merely stake out the limits of the area within which the meeting may act. A motion must be made in order for action to be taken on a warrant article. All motions must be within the scope, or four corners, of the article.

Town Meetings begin at 7:00pm each night. Town Meeting members must check in with attendance takers each evening. Attendance is public record and is published in the Enterprise.

A quorum of one half plus one of the total members is necessary to conduct Town Meeting. (243 elected members + 1 Moderator = 244 / 2 = 122, 122 +1 = 123. Note: the Moderator is ex officio member and any members of the General Court residing in Falmouth are also ex officio - currently the one member of the House of Representatives in the General Court residing in Falmouth is also the Moderator.)

The Moderator presides over every session of Town Meeting with exclusive authority over the conduct of the meeting. The Moderator only votes when members present and voting are equally divided. The Moderator also appoints the Town Meeting Rules & Procedures Committee that is responsible for periodically meeting with the Moderator to review the procedures and related bylaws of Town Meeting.

The Moderator may begin the review of the Warrant with a blanket vote. During the blanket vote the Moderator reads each article and any member who wishes to discuss or disagree with the printed recommendation may shout "HOLD." The articles that are not held are then unanimously voted on in a blanket vote that enacts the measure "as recommended." Articles that were held are then taken up one by one.

Town Meeting may make the following motions to dispose of articles:
as recommended
amend
refer to committee
put to a town-wide referendum (although selectmen set the ballot)
indefinite postponement (only when no positive motion is made)

Voting is done by voice vote. However, when the Moderator can not determine a majority by voice vote, the members must stand and be counted. Upon the request of 20 Town Meeting members, the ayes and nays of members shall be ascertained and recorded.

Only Town Meeting members are allowed to make motions. Others must ask a Town Meeting member to make a motion for them. After the motion has been made, any registered voter, resident, or taxpayer of the town may speak. Persons who are not voters, residents, or taxpayers of the town may address town meeting with a majority vote of members present.

Town Meeting adjourns at 11:00pm unless a motion to continue is made and approved by a 2/3 vote. According to town bylaw, in no event shall consideration of a new article begin after 12:00am midnight.