Marion makes progress on planning Town Meeting, elections

May 5, 2020

MARION — As of now the dates for Town Meeting and the Election are June 22 and 26, respectively, though like many things these dates are still fluid. 

Town Administrator Jay McGrail and Clerk Lissa Magauran presented the Board of Selectmen with updates on the plans to carry out Town Meeting and Election.

At a May 5 video meeting, McGrail said he is planning to hold two town meetings: a June meeting that will cover only important articles, and one in August when it is safer to hold another meeting.

Residents would have to register in advance to be there in person for the June meeting and only 130 people could attend in-person. The town will allow more if it uses Tabor Academy space. There will also be an option to attend via Zoom.

In-person, residents will be required to wear a mask and would sit in either the auditorium, gym or cafeteria. Selectmen would be on-stage in the auditorium, and the three spaces would have projectors to show other locations in a closed circuit video connection. Those attending on Zoom will be able to view the meeting.

Votes would be recorded in each area by a moderator, and McGrail is working on how to count votes for Zoom attendees. 

Prior to the meeting, the town would also advertise and virtually hold public hearings for any matter that were to go to vote in town meeting. 

Jokingly, McGrail said that “you couldn’t have possibly come up with a more complicated plan for my first town meeting” with the new Board of Selectmen. 

For town election, Magauran said she’s not in a place to set a date, but is being “proactive about being as safe as possible” with the current conditions.

The town will mail the 4,154 registered voters applications to vote by mail as a way to encourage people to stay home. To save money, the town will mail multiple applications in one envelope to houses with more than one voter, and the state may reimburse the town for the cost.

For those who want to go to the polls, Magauran said that polling stations will have 200 safety packs with masks, gloves and a pen, but she encourages voters to bring their own.

To protect workers, the town is seeking younger volunteers and will equip them with face shields, as well as ensure that polling stations follow social distancing guidelines. 

McGrail said that the plan is good and that “God-willing, we’ll have a good election day.”