While Tuesday, March 7 – Town Meeting Day – may seem far away, January is the time when Town Meeting petitions start filling up with signatures to get names and voting items on local agendas and ballots.
With the implementation of Vermont's new same-day voter registration law, Vermont voters won't have to worry about any advance deadlines to fully participate in Town Meeting this year. However if you want to get your name on your town's ballot to run for office, or if you have an item you'd like to have voted upon, there are some deadlines to keep track of.
Voters have until Thursday, January 19 to file a petition for an article to be placed on the Town Meeting Day ballot or agenda. Successful petitions must be signed by at least 5 percent of the municipality's registered voters. Town clerks have until the next day to notify the petitioner if the petition does not conform to requirements. The petitioner then has 48 hours to file any supplemental petitions to meet the 5 percent requirement.
If your town elects officers from the floor, then there is no advanced requirement to declare your intent to run for office. However, if you want to have your name appear on an Australian ballot, you have some work to do before Monday, January 30. To appear on the ballot candidates must file a consent of candidate form with their town or city clerk. In addition, candidates must file a nominating petition signed by 30 legal voters, or 1 percent of the registered voters in town – whichever is less.
There's one more thing to note if you go by a nickname. According to the Secretary of State's office, "Nominating petitions must contain the candidates name as it appears on the voter checklist. The consent of candidate may contain any nickname a candidate wishes to appear on the ballot."
And if, after all that, you change your mind, Wednesday, February 1 is the last day to withdraw from an Australian ballot election.