The Town of Preston is governed by its Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen, and elected and appointed Boards and Commissions. All of the governing powers of the Town are vested in the Town Meeting, Preston’s legislative body. Decisions at Town Meetings are made by majority vote of everyone present who is registered to vote in Preston or who is 18 years old or older and owns property assessed at $1,000 or more on the Town's latest grand list.
The Selectmen must issue a public "warning" at least five days before a meeting, stating the time and place and topics to be discussed. Only those topics called can be discussed.
A request for a referendum (a vote by machine count) must be submitted to the Town Clerk by the Selectmen or by a petition of 200 eligible voters at least 24 hours prior to a scheduled Meeting. The Meeting then selects the date of the referendum within seven to 14 days. The vote is taken at the Preston Plains Middle School, 1 Route 164.
Municipal election of all Town Officials and members of the elective Boards and Commissions is held on Election Day in every odd-numbered year. Town officials, elected for two years, are First Selectman, Town Clerk, Treasurer, and Tax Collector. Elected Boards and Commissions include Selectmen, Finance, Board of Education, Planning and Zoning, Board of Assessment Appeals and members and alternates to the Zoning Board of Appeals. The lengths of terms vary.
The Democratic and Republican parties select candidates for all elective positions. Minority party representation is required. In addition, any citizen or additional party may petition to have a name placed on the ballot.
All meetings of Town Boards and Commissions, which deal with the Town's administration, finance, land use, and education, are open to the public. Advance notification of every meeting must be posted at Town Hall. Timely minutes must also be available.
The right to meet in executive session, where only members of the board or commission are present, is governed by a statute known as the "Sunshine Law." No official action may be taken during an executive session (Freedom of Information Act).