Vermont town meeting is direct democracy practiced in its purest form. It is the key to town government, as voters assemble to discuss issues, debate budgets, air grievances, elect officers, and determine the town and school district business for the coming year.
- Town Meeting Day is Tuesday, March 2, 2021.
- The last day to post warnings is Sunday, January 31, 2021.
- The auditors annual financial report must be distributed by Saturday, February 20, 2021, unless the town has voted to give notice of the report’s availability.
COVID-19 Town Meeting Information
The Governor signed H.48 on January 19, 2021. The law does the following:
- Allows municipalities to postpone their 2021 annual meeting to a later (and potentially safer) date. It will be up to the municipality to determine the later date.
- Allows local legislative bodies to require municipal clerks to mail 2021 annual meeting early voter absentee Australian ballots to all active registered municipal voters to encourage absentee voting.
- Clarifies that municipal officers will serve until the annual meeting and when successors are chosen if a local legislative body chooses to move the date of the 2021 annual meeting.
- Authorizes the Secretary of State to order or permit supplemental election procedures related to the provisions within the bill. A directive pursuant to this authority was issued on January 20, 2021. You can find the directive and accompanying memo online at https://sos.vermont.gov/elections/about/covid-19-response/.
You can read more about H.48 in our Town Meeting COVID-19 FAQs below.
In response to the concerns posed by COVID-19, the Vermont Legislature passed Act 162, which allows a legislative body to vote to use Australian ballot for any town meeting in 2021 (annual or special town meetings).
The temporary law allows municipalities that normally vote from the floor on Town Meeting Day to instead use the Australian ballot by vote of the legislative body. Under current law, only a vote of a municipality’s voters may allow the switch to an Australian ballot system. Municipalities whose meeting locations don’t allow for social distancing may find the switch to an Australian ballot system helpful during the ongoing pandemic. Although the legislation mainly addresses next year’s town meeting, it allows all annual or special meetings to be conducted via Australian ballot for all of 2021. The law also lifts the requirement that a person needs to collect voter signatures to have his or her name placed on a ballot as a candidate for a local election held at a 2021 municipal meeting. The legislation took effect on October 5.
This choice is optional; any town that plans to continue with a floor meeting must do so in compliance with the relevant health and safety guidance from the CDC, VT Department of Health, the Agency of Commerce and Community Development, and the Secretary of State’s office. Note that if the legislative body votes to use Australian ballot, an informational hearing will be required pursuant to 17 V.S.A. § 2680(g); because the Open Meeting Law applies to this informational hearing, it can be a remote hearing per Act 92. See our Remote Public Meeting Toolkit for guidance. We have also developed an Australian Ballot Info Sheet for those new to this form of voting which can be found in the Resources below.
The Municipal Assistance Center (MAC) maintains a comprehensive set of town meeting resources including general information, models and templates, and FAQs on a variety of town meeting topics. Please refer to our downloadable town meeting resources at the bottom of this page. We are also available to assist town officials with any town meeting related questions regarding their roles and responsibilities. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-800-649-7915. Please contact as soon as possible during this busy time of year. If you are looking for general information on elections, election results, or running for local office, please call 802-828-2363 or visit the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office, Elections Division's website.