Burlington Town Meeting Day ballots are scheduled to be mailed to all active registered voters starting this week. Here’s what VPIRG would like you to know…
- Town Meeting Day is Tuesday, March 7 – less than three weeks away!
- If you aren’t already registered to vote, you can do so online or at City Hall on Church Street ahead of the election, or at your polling place on Town Meeting Day.
- Before Town Meeting Day, you can return your ballot by mail, in-person at City Hall, or at one of the five ballot drop boxes around the city. (City Hall hours and drop box locations.)
- And, if you decide to cast your vote in-person, the polls will be open from 7AM to 7PM.
Whatever your positions on the issues are, we encourage you to exercise your right to vote. Our democracy depends on it!
We believe voting is always important, but this year’s ballot has an exciting new feature: Ranked Choice Voting! Voters in Burlington now have the opportunity to rank the city council candidates in order of preference. If your vote can’t help your first choice win, then your vote goes to your second choice. This method of voting is used in countries around the world and is growing in popularity in the United States. Ranked choice voting promotes more diverse voices, gives voters more choices, and strengthens our democracy. Learn more at www.BetterBallotVermont.org.
In addition to the vote for elected officials, the Burlington Town Meeting Day ballot has eight public questions for your consideration. VPIRG has taken a position on several of these questions, and we encourage you to Vote YES on the following:
Question 2: IMPLEMENTATION OF A CARBON POLLUTION IMPACT FEE FOR NEW CONSTRUCTION AND LARGE EXISTING COMMERCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL BUILDINGS 50,000 SQUARE FEET OR LARGER
Burlington is at the forefront of efforts to fight climate change, and it’s time to tackle climate pollution coming from new construction and the largest buildings in the city. This ballot item would require most new construction (and some very large existing buildings as they install heating systems) to use “renewable energy systems or renewable fuels” (which would include systems like heat pumps and geothermal) or pay a carbon pollution impact fee. Any fees collected would go to measures that reduce carbon pollution, including a new City fund “to support clean heating technology installations for low-income Burlington households and renters.” Vote YES.
Question 4: CHARTER CHANGE RE REQUIREMENTS FOR LEGAL RESIDENT VOTERS WHO ARE NOT UNITED STATES CITIZENS
Empowering all legal residents of Burlington to vote in local elections is not only fair, it’s good for democracy. Legal residents are full-time residents of Burlington who do not have full U.S. citizenship but who live, work, pay taxes, parent, go to school, and are members of our community. These community members are affected by local policy decisions just as other residents are who are full U.S. citizens. Extending voting rights for local elections to all legal residents (as Montpelier and Winooski have already done) is a way for all Burlington residents to participate in our local democracy and influence policy outcomes.1 Vote YES.
Question 5: CHARTER CHANGE RE QUALIFICATIONS OF VOTERS AND SITING OF POLLING PLACES
A technical companion to Question 4. Passage would allow Burlington to join the cities of Montpelier and Winooski that already allow legal resident voting. Vote YES.
Question 6: CHARTER CHANGE RE ABILITY TO USE RANKED CHOICE VOTING FOR THE ELECTION OF MAYOR, SCHOOL COMMISSIONERS AND WARD ELECTION OFFICERS
Ranked choice voting is already giving Burlington voters more voice, more choice, and a stronger democracy for city council elections. Let’s bring these benefits to our other city elections by voting YES on 6 to use ranked choice voting for mayor, school board commissioner, and ward officer elections too. Vote YES!
In the weeks ahead, VPIRG will be:
- Offering opportunities to test-drive ranked choice voting in a fun all-city experience. (Stay tuned! There might be ice cream!)
- Building support for Questions 2, 4, 5 and 6, and
- Encouraging Burlingtonians to vote!
While other states are busy restricting voting rights, Vermont has become one of the easiest places to vote in the country. If you or someone you know isn’t registered to vote, the Vermont Secretary of State can help. Just visit: https://olvr.vermont.gov/. If you’ve already registered, but don’t receive your ballot in the mail soon, you can track its status at https://mvp.vermont.gov/.