Town Meetings and Elections
Annual Town Meeting takes place on the first Monday in April at 7:00 PM. One must be a registered voter in the Town of Manchester-by-the-Sea to vote at Town Meeting. Please arrive at least 15 minutes prior to Town Meeting for a timely check in.
State and local elections take place at Manchester Memorial Elementary School, 43 Lincoln Street. You must be a registered voter in the Town of Manchester-by-the- Sea to vote. The annual local election takes place on the third Tuesday in May. Polls are open from 7:00 AM to 8:00 PM.
Why must we vote in person at Town Meeting?
We frequently receive questions from residents about voting, in particular whether it is possible to vote at town meeting by absentee ballot or by proxy. Under state law, neither is permitted.
Town meetings are governed by Chapter 39 of the Massachusetts General Laws. The statute requires that voters be present at the meeting to hear the debate and exercise their right to vote. Historically, in colonial times attendance at town meeting was mandatory, and those who were absent or arrived late could be fined.
As a practical matter, absentee ballots at town meeting could not be effective as they are for elections. In an election, the candidates and any referendum questions are known well in advance of the date. At town meeting, on the other hand, no one can predict with certainty what motions or amendments may be proposed on town meeting floor. It would be impossible to anticipate the questions to be decided in preparing an absentee ballot.
While we understand the frustration of residents whose travel plans or other circumstances may prevent their attending in person, the Town has no choice but to follow the requirements of state law.
Alan Wilson Dianne K. Bucco
Town Moderator Town Clerk