“ The word “Clerk” is misleading – it is no longer the case that a clerk wanders the halls and makes Xerox copies. The Town Clerk has by Massachusetts Laws and Town General Bylaws an extraordinarily broad set of responsibilities involving the actions of the government, residents of the Town , even down to individual foundational documents that contain both personal & private information”.
Some of the Things you did not know but should know about the Town Clerk’s Office and its importance to the daily structure of your local Government.
The office of the Town Clerk is probably one of the oldest in municipal government. It appears in the Bible in the Book of Acts, Chapter 19, verse 35 written in A.D. 58. In Massachusetts, the Town Clerk was one of the earliest offices established in colonial towns. The settlers were well aware of the importance of keeping accurate written records. By the middle of the 17th century, the title, Town Clerk, appears in the town records and that title continues to the present time.
One of the earliest statutory duties imposed by the General Court was that of recording births, death and marriage. By 1776, the Town Clerk was empowered to call town meetings, to elect selectmen if a majority of the selectmen had moved from town or were absent in the US military Services.
During the course of the regular business of the office, the town clerk’s duties bring them into contact with every level of government; state agencies, county government, and almost every other town office. In addition the clerk probably has more frequent contact with the public than any other town officer and is constantly called upon to provide information, not only about their own office, but about the rest of government as well.
Additional State and Federal duties assigned to the Office of the Town Clerk within the last 5 years.
Registration of 16 years olds
Online voter registration
Opt in voter registration (soon to be automatic at RMV)
Early Voting by mail
Early voting in person (mandatory Saturday and Sunday)
Audits for State Elections
Some of the new upcoming changes that are being considered for 2022
a. same day voter registration
b. election day voter registration
c. Audits for all Elections
d. Extending the Early Vote by mail times
e. Early ballot processing
f. Early ballot depositing
Federal Census (mapping, writing road description and drawing boundary lines)
Housing Authority - Town Clerk must accept and handle applications
Records Access Officer for ALL departments - VERY DEMANDING for public records requests
Ethics for ALL departments, employees and boards (262)
Unibank System for vitals,, dogs have increased dramatically
Vitals records and Burial Agent duties have increased
Amendments and creating records in Vitals has now become Town Clerks responsibility
Meeting notice posting has become very timely
DEPARTMENTAL DESCRIPTION AND SERVICES PROVIDED
The Office of the Town Clerk has five major functions: Election Administration, Vital Records Management, Public Records Access, Records Management and Processing of Licenses. The mission of the Office of the Town Clerk is to facilitate the efforts of Whitman residents, visitors and employees to access public information in an efficient, transparent and timely manner, to enable voters to avail themselves of the democratic process, to provide high quality service in a courteous and professional manner, to strive to improve both the office and its employees through habitual innovation and education, to preserve and promote the history of the town through its historical documents and artifacts, and to comply with federal, state and local statutes.
As you can see from the PowerPoint presentation, it talks a lot about scope of responsibility and the risk to the Town and individuals if the Town Clerk makes a significant error, releases confidential information, etc.
We are ALWAYS here to help. Please call the office with any question and either myself, Mike or Jen will be happy to help you. You can always call my Cell at 781-664-8087. If I do not answer please leave a text or voice mail and I will return you call.
Dawn M. Varley, CMC, CMMC
Whitman Town Clerk