Town Meeting is right around the corner. I have received several phone calls from people who are interested in reserving one of the tables in the hall to display their materials, etc. So, first of all, it is all on a first come first serve basis. We are typically setting up on Monday afternoon and you are welcome to come in and put your name on one of the tables, or even bright and early on Tuesday when the polls open at 7 a.m. I like to leave the table closest to the kitchen free in case there is a bake sale, or some other delicious food offering going on, but any other table is up for grabs. That being said, the statutes dictate what campaign materials, publications, etc. are allowed in the polling place. There are some changes from last year and we were sent the following from the Secretary of State’s Office:
There was a clarification of “Campaigning at the Polling Place” (17 VSA Sec 2508) to bring VT law into compliance with a US Supreme Court ruling. Under the new changes, election officials may only prohibit people from wearing, displaying or handing out political materials that display the name of:
- A candidate on the ballot, or
- An organized political party, or
- that demonstrate support or opposition to a question on the ballot
It’s the third one that I wanted to make sure you were all aware of, so you don’t go to a lot of effort printing up something that you are planning to hand out at Town Meeting Day, only to find out that it is not allowed.
If your group is requesting money or project approval from the Town as part of the budget or as a separate article, any materials handed out inside the polling place or set up on the tables will be asked to be removed. Likewise, please don’t hand anything out to people as they walk into the polls and please don’t leave materials on the chairs in the Multi-Purpose Room. This is different and new since last year. As always, the Town will have an Informational Meeting the Monday night before Town Meeting, and any handouts would be welcome.
Read your budgets! The Champlain Valley School District and Town of Charlotte both have significant increases. We will be discussing the Town budget and separate articles for Trails and donations on Town Meeting Day. Amendments can be made to increase or decrease requests. The final decision made at the March 3 meeting for Articles 3 ($3,423,165 for Town budget), Article 4 ($57,000 for Trails) and Article 5 ($17,992 for donations) will be what we vote on April 7 by Australian Ballot. Last year, 164 people showed up to vote in April which doesn’t feel very representative of the Town as a whole. The final approval for the amount of tax dollars the Town will need to raise is decided on April 7, not March 3.
Don’t forget to vote.
Absentee ballots are available until 4 p.m. on Monday, March 2.