Citizen's Guide - Town of Canton

Canton has an Open Town Meeting form of government, where important decisions impacting the community are made by citizens of the Town. In order to participate, residents must be registered voters. 

This online version Citizen’s Guide was prepared to give residents an overview of town government and hopefully assist in more effective participation. Our aim is to increase the residents’ awareness of town government and help you in becoming a more effective citizen.

The data contained herein, should be used only as a guide. For specific information residents are encouraged to contact the pertinent department or the Select Board’s Office.

  1. Town Government

Citizen's Guide to Town Meeting

Canton is governed by Open Town Meeting form of government with the Town Meeting body acting as the legislative branch and elected boards, including the Select Board, serving as the executive branch. In the Open Town Meeting form of government, every registered voter is eligible to attend and vote on the range of issues before the community, such as approving the Town’s budget, accepting, rejecting and amending local by-laws, accepting Acts of the General Court, etc. 

The Select Board is comprised of elected officials and is responsible is responsible for the oversight and deliverance of all general municipal services, including but not limited to public safety, public works, and general government. Elected officials are responsible to the electorate.

  1. Town Elections

Time of Election: The Annual Town Election is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April each year. The polls are open from seven o’clock A.M. to eight o’clock P.M. 

Polling Places

Precincts 1 and 6          Canton High School, 900 Washington St.

Precincts 2 and 7          Canton Senior Center, 500 Pleasant St.

Precinct 3                       Blue Hills Regional School, 800 Randolph St.

Precincts 4 and 5          John F. Kennedy School, 100 Dedham St.

Map to determine your polling location. 

Voter Registration: You can register to vote by completing a form and returning it to the Town Clerk’s office in person or by mail by completing this form, or you can register to vote on line at the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s office.  In order to register to vote you must be a Massachusetts resident and be turning 18 years old prior to the next election. 

Absentee Ballots: May be obtained from the Town Clerk. Absentee ballots should only be used for legitimate reasons, i.e. hospitalization, will be out of town on election day, etc.

Running for Election: See Town Clerk for nomination papers.

  1. Appointed Boards and Committees

Appointment to Boards/Committees:  Residents wishing to be appointed to a board or committee should complete an application and provide it, along with a letter of interest, to the Executive Office.  The Select Board shall seek variety in backgrounds, interests, ages, gender and geographic areas of residents, so that a true cross-section of the community will be reflected.  In order to attract qualified and interested persons, vacancies shall be made public as soon as practicable.  

Appointments of members to Boards and Committees shall be made at an open Select Board meeting by majority vote of the Board.  Please see Section XVIII of the Administrative Code for more information and follow this link for an application.  

Notice of Vacancy: Under General Laws a person must notify the Town Clerk in writing of a vacancy in any form, and as a matter of courtesy they should also notify the Select Board and the pertinent Chairman of the committee. Under General Law, a vacancy on an elected Board /Committee is filled by a joint appointment of the remaining members of the committee and the Select Board. Such appointment is until the next Annual Town Meeting.

A vacancy on an appointed Board/Committee is usually filled in the following manner:

  1. Select Board accept resignation or announce vacancy
  2. Select Board request letters of interest and applications for positions
  3. Select Board may hold interviews with interested persons if numerous applications are received. 
  4. Select Board makes appointment to fill vacancy for rest of unexpired term
  1. Annual Town Meeting

Annual Town meeting is open to all registered voters of the Town. Important town wide decisions are made at Town meeting an all are encouraged to attend and let their voice be heard.

The Annual Town Meeting is held on the second Monday of May of each year at 7:00 P.M. in the Morse Auditorium, Canton High School, 900 Washington Street, or in some other location as determined by the Select Board.  Should Town Meeting require more than one night, it will be continued to the following Wednesday and every Monday and Wednesday there after until the close of all ATM business.

 Residents seeking information on article submission to Annual Town Meeting are asked to review Article III of the Town By-Laws which provides details on submission requirements.  Any citizen petition article for Annual Town Meeting requires the signatures of at least ten (10) registered voters, must meet the requirements noted in Section 3.4, and must be initiated through the Town Clerk's office.  

Each department and committee submits a report of their activities for the previous year. These reports are compiled and published annually and usually are available by Annual Town Meeting (first Monday in May) of the following year. 

Copies are available to the general public, without charge, at the Select Board’s Office and on the website. Coordination of the printing of the Town Report is handled by the Executive Office.

2022 Annual Town Report

  1. Board and Committee Meetings

Notice of Meetings: All Town Board meetings must be posted with the Town Clerk at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting consistent with the Open Meeting Law. Emergency meetings may be called at any time. Emergency is defined as a situation that will not permit waiting a full forty-eight hours. Emergency meetings must be posted and notice filed with the Town Clerk giving as much public notice as possible.

Open Meeting: Massachusetts has a statute regulating local boards referred to as the Open Meeting Law. All meetings must be open to the public and press unless the Board votes to go into Executive Session.

Executive Session: There are only certain matters that are eligible to be discussed in Executive Session and these are outlined in the General Laws. There are also specific procedures, which must be adhered to relative to Executive Sessions and are part of the Open Meeting statute.

Record of Meeting: A record must be maintained of all actions taken at a meeting. The records, also known as minutes, are considered public record. Records, or minutes, of Executive Session may remain confidential so long as their publication would defeat the lawful purposes of the Executive Session. Once the Executive Session matter has been resolved, the Chairman must approve the Executive Session Minutes being released and made a part of the Open Session records.

Meeting and Correspondence with the Select Board: The Select Board meets on select Tuesdays, typically twice a month in the evening. All items for discussion and/or action are placed on an agenda and posted on the Meeting Notice consistent with the Open Meeting Law. All requests to have an item placed on an agenda must be received in writing by 12:00 pm on the Thursday prior to the Monday meeting date.

Public Hearing: All Public Hearings are held in accordance with General Laws of Massachusetts.