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Most Vermont municipalities stick to March 2 Town Meeting Day

Published: Feb. 11, 2021 at 6:34 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 11, 2021 at 7:09 PM EST
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Most of Vermont’s 240 municipalities will hold Town Meeting Day on March 2nd despite the option to delay the date. A survey by the Vermont Secretary of State’s office also shows a majority will keep in-person polling locations open for voting by Australian ballot and a few still plan to host in-person floor meetings.

“I feel I had enough time. We learned a lot with the general and the August primary, as well,” said South Burlington City Clerk Donna Kinville. She says by the time Governor Phil Scott last month signed the bill allowing municipalities to develop alternative voting plans, city leaders had already settled on sending all 14,000 active, registered voters an absentee ballot. “We just got everything in order. We had to think ahead and had to plan for, ‘Well, if this happens we’re going to do this, and if this happens we’re going to do that.’ We didn’t want any surprises.” South Burlington is also still offering safe, in-person voting at all four polling locations.

Burlington is taking the same approach. City Clerk Katherine Schad says mailing absentee ballots to all its eligible voters would have been expensive. “I was quite relieved when the final passage of the bill did include reimbursement, at least for the postage,” she said.

On the other hand, some towns are asking residents to request a mailed absentee ballot as in past years. Other towns are offering drive-thru ballot drop-offs. A few are setting up outside polling locations.

Secretary of State Jim Condos says given all the options, he expects the traditionally low-turnout election will see a slight uptick in participation. These procedures that we have permitted, that we’ve offered with the available funding, will help ensure that our local democracy remains resilient during these trying times. And to all voters, remember -- your vote is your voice,” he said.

South Burlington officials say they usually have a Town Meeting Day turnout of upwards of 5,000 of the city’s 14,000 active voters. About 12,000 voted in November. They say if about 6,000 people vote in this year’s local election, they’ll consider the turnout a success.

If your town is sending absentee ballots, they should be in the mail any day now.

STORY CORRECTION: The Town of Essex is also sending all active voters an absentee ballot ahead of March 2.

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