In response to the ongoing health concerns posed by COVID-19, the Governor signed Act 1 (H.42) 2023 on January 25, 2023. Among other things, the Act allows a municipality to apply the Australian ballot system to its annual town meeting held in the year 2023 and/or 2024 by vote of its legislative body. The process for using the Australian ballot system at town meeting requires a public informational hearing to be held within the 10 days immediately preceding the town meeting at which the Australian ballot system of voting is to be used. Under the Act’s temporary changes to the law, this hearing may be held entirely remotely, without designating a physical location.
When municipalities hold informational hearings in conjunction with this law, they must:
- use technology that allows the public to attend by electronic or other means;
- allow the public to access the meeting by telephone;
- include and post information on how the public can access the meeting electronically in its agenda; and
- record the hearings, unless unusual circumstances make it impossible for them to do so.
This toolkit provides guidance to those legislative bodies striving to hold the public informational hearing required to be held when conducting their annual town meetings by Australian ballot by remote access only.