[ Medfield Town Hall, built in 1874 ]

For 357 years since its incorporation as a town in 1651, Medfield has been governed by the purest form of democracy currently practiced in the United States: open town meeting. Any resident who is registered to vote can can show up at the annual town meeting and cast votes on all major legislative issues, including town administration, budget, bylaws, and zoning.

Though the open town meeting in a community with such a small population would seem to be the ideal expression of democracy, the reality in terms of participation is not so ideal. A quorum of 250 residents is required, which is about 2% of the population. Typically, around 500 residents attend. So even though the open town meeting offers the opportunity for 100% democratic participation, only about one in twenty residents feels it is worth the time.