By Pierre Comtois
GROTON — Members of the Groton Town Meeting Review Committee kept hard at work when they met on the evening of March 4 combing through suggested questions to be given to residents in the form of a survey mailed to households.
Charged by the Board of Selectmen with reviewing the viability of Town Meeting, the study committee is expected to examine the institution’s legal framework, cost to the taxpayer, the times meetings are held and any other subject it deems proper and to make recommendations for improvements, if any are needed, to the board.
Among the members appointed to the committee are attorney Robert Collins, School Committee member Berta Erickson, Scott Harker, Greg Fishbone and Alison Eyedenberg.
Committee members prepared a draft of the proposed survey, which will likely be sent to voters via bills sent out by the Groton Electric Light Department or with copies of the warrant for spring Town Meeting.
Among the 16 questions listed on the draft survey were those covering personal information of voters such as age and years lived in town.
Others seek to find out how respondents feel about Town Meeting and what their rate of attendance is. Follow-up questions ask what things keep respondents from attending Town Meeting and what kind of changes to its format would be likely to get them to attend more regularly.
One idea was to also include a Web address where respondents could fill out the questionnaire online if they chose to, perhaps increasing participation in the survey.
“I think that’s worth exploring,” noted committee Chairman Robert Collins.
Other issues covered by committee members at their March 4 meeting included the notion of nonlinear voting, such as electronic voting, enabling shut-ins to cast their ballots from home.
Also discussed was changing the day of Town Meeting, whether attendance could be increased by keeping it on Monday nights or moving it to Saturday afternoons.
Remarking on how many people already know how they are going to vote on warrant articles and find sitting through questions and answers before voting a bore, committee member Alison Eyedenberg suggested that the voting times for each article be posted ahead of time, allowing residents at home to come in just for the vote.
Or, said Eyedenberg, people might be allowed to write their votes on each article down on a form that could be submitted at the door after registering for Town Meeting. That wa y, their votes could be referred to when counting was done without the person needing to hang around all day. Any articles that ended up being amended would void the person’s vote on that issue.
The committee’s next meeting was scheduled for March 27.