"Real liberty is neither found in despotism or the extremes of democracy, but in moderate governments.
Alexander Hamilton

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Modertor's Rules and Procedures

Moultonborough School District Annual Meeting
Town of Moultonborough Annual Meeting
March 14, 2015

Town Meetings in New Hampshire represents true democracy  where each and every registered voter in attendance at this Annual Meeting is a legislator and will be asked to vote on those Articles listed on the Warrant.  The Moderator will use the following general rules of procedures for the Meeting.

Voters may overrule the Moderator by simple majority vote on any decision or rule that the Moderator establishes.  Any voter can raise such a request at any time by a “Point of Order”.  It is always OK to ask for a point of order or clarification of a procedural rule. 

The Moderator will take the Articles in the order that they appear on the Warrant unless the Moderator announces the intent to take the articles out of order, which will require the approval from the Legislative Body.

The Moderator will not accept negative motions, which are motions that require a “no” vote to vote in the affirmative, such as “I move that we NOT adopt the budget”.

Each time a voter wishes to address a warrant article, the voter shall approach the microphone and, when recognized, state name and address before speaking.  The speaker will address their questions or comments to the moderator.  The Moderator will choose who responds to the question.  Voters who experience difficulty moving to the microphone will be provided a portable microphone and may speak from their seat.

All speakers must be courteous and must speak to the issues.  All speakers must address their statements and questions to the Moderator, and NOT to or towards  any other  elected official or attendee to Town Meeting.  The Moderator will not allow personal attacks or inappropriate language.

Non-Voters may speak to an Article with the consent of the Towns registered voters.  If you are not a registered voter in the Town of Moultonborough and wish to speak, approach the microphone, state your residence and an immediate decision will be made on your request.  The Moderator will allow other speakers, such as non-resident Town Officials and consultants, or experts, who are at the Meeting to provide information about an Article.

The Moderator respectfully requests that the initial presentation of an Article be limited to ten (10) minutes, and that all speakers in the debate are limited to three (3) minutes.   A voter is entitled to speak a second or third time on the same question provided all voters who wish to speak have spoken. 

To “Table” or “Pass Over” may be appropriate for some Articles, however, unless overruled, the Moderator will not, generally, accept a motion to pass over an Article. 

Motions to “Call the Question” limit debate and require a 2/3 vote to pass.  To “Call the Question”, voters speaking must be done at the microphone.  If passed, debate on a motion ends and a vote is taken.  However, all those voters who are standing in line at a microphone, or holding a microphone, and others that have made the Moderator aware of their interest to speak, will be allowed to speak.  Additionally, the Moderator shall have the right to refuse to recognize a motion to “Call the Question”, if, in the Moderators opinion, the voters have not yet had an adequate opportunity to discuss an issue.

Any and all votes taken at the business session, that were not a part of the official ballot voted on the Election Day past, may be reconsidered before the termination of this meeting.  Motions to prevent the reconsideration of an article are acceptable and may be voted upon after a vote on an article is taken.

Motions to reconsider an Article may be made immediately after the vote on the Article, and may only be made by a voter who voted with the prevailing side of the vote on the Article to be reconsidered.  The following limits apply to the reconsideration of an Article:

a.          Mandatory Restriction:  In accordance with RSA33:8-a, a motion to reconsider a ballot vote on a bond issue of over $100,000 passes, the Article cannot be reconsidered until a reconvened Meeting that is at least seven (7) days after the original vote.  With respect to bond votes, the restriction on reconsideration automatically applies without the need for the Meeting to vote on it.
b.         Optional Restriction:  Voters may postpone reconsideration of any Article at this Meeting by voting to restrict reconsideration of the Article in accordance with RSA 40:10.  If the Meeting passes such a motion, then the Article cannot be reconsidered until a reconvened meeting held at least seven (7) days after the date of the original vote.
c.          Reminder:  Since any rule of the Moderator or decision of the Meeting can be reversed or changed at any time prior to the end of the Meeting, there is no rule that can be adopted that can absolutely prevent the reconsideration of an Article.

There is no such rule as an illegal vote, but understand that votes that are made are subject to final review by the Department of Revenue Administration and by courts serving our jurisdiction.  Votes are binding if they relate to the subject matter warned in an article.

All voters will receive “Voters Cards” upon checking in with the Supervisors of the Check List.  Please print your name on your card and keep it in your possession.  When asked for your vote, you may raise your card.  All votes will be accomplished by a show of cards, including a secret ballot.  Any 5 voters may ask for a secret ballot on a question prior to a vote being taken. The request must be in writing and presented before the article comes to the floor.  The petitioning voters must be present and identify themselves to the Moderator at the time of the vote.  Please remind the Moderator of your petition when when the Article reaches the floor.

Actions of the Meeting are not binding on future Town Meetings unless they are items of debt such as a bond, notes or items that are contractual in nature.  Registered Voters, as legislators attending the Annual Meetings, may act or amend particular items in the budget, but have no control over the transferring of sums from one part of the budget to another part or line item of the proposed budget. 

All amendments and substantive motions are requested to be in writing and be signed by the maker and second. (Minor amendments need not be in writing).  Only one amendment will be allowed on the floor at any one time. 

Our meeting will be audio and video recorded.  The Moderator does have the option to segregate non-registered voters. 

Jerry Hopkins,  Moderator,  Town & School District of Moultonborough

1 comment:

Joe Cormier/jcormier2@myfairpoint.net said...

Some of us are not attorneys (didn't say, not lawyers).

He is an attorney:

Stephen Buckley is Legal Services Counsel with the New Hampshire Municipal Association.

The Moderator's Role at Town Meeting

New Hampshire Town and City, January/February 2015
(some of us spend our own money subscribing to, and reading these magazines)

By Stephen Buckley, Legal Services Counsel

"Summary of Moderator’s Role at the Meeting:

The moderator should take the following steps on each article in the warrant:

Read the article in full.

Always secure an affirmative motion and a second on the article.

The motion need not be the same as the wording in the printed article as long as it is within the same general subject matter.

Recognize the select board members or person(s) responsible for giving the town meeting the necessary background on the article under consideration.

Open general discussion from the floor.

After the conclusion of discussion, the motion should be restated, with a check to make sure its effect is generally understood.

The vote should be taken and the outcome announced. If the vote is to be challenged, this is the appropriate time for action.

Moderators aren’t always correct, and they can be overruled by the town meeting. Whenever a voter indicates a desire to challenge the moderator’s ruling, the voter should be recognized by the moderator and should be given an opportunity to state the rule he or she believes is applicable.
The moderator should then poll the town meeting to determine whether that ruling is sustained.