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NOTE - this was originally the Quick Guide to Town Meeting but since it only addresses warning and notice, I figured this was more apt. Plus it acts as a nice chapter lead in. This is not a comprehensive guide to Town Meeting Day. For additional resources, please see our town meeting webpage.

The Warning

The annual meeting must be warned; and notice must be posted 30-40days prior to the annual meeting. 17 V.S.A. § 2641(a). In 2023, the earliest day that these documents may be posted is Thursday, January 26; the last day for posting is Sunday, February 5. Start early. It is crucial to start early on drafting your town meeting warning and notice. If your town meeting will be from the floor, we recommend consulting your town moderator, who may have advice about the wording or order of articles to promote a smooth and manageable meeting. The municipal legislative body should thoroughly review the meeting warning and notice before they are finalized. Corrections are much easier to fix before town meeting than after!

What is on the warning?

  • Date and time of the election 
  • Location of the polling place(s)
  • The nature of the meeting.

The warning must, include separate articles for each piece of business to be transacted. This includes all elected offices up for vote and questions to be voted on.

What information is required for the notice?

  • Voter registration
  • Early or absentee voting options
  • Other appropriate information. 17 V.S.A. § 2642. - (such as?)

The Secretary of State’s Elections Division has a model Notice and Instructions to Voters  

Articles on the Warning

Unless specifically articulated in statute, the wording of town meeting articles is unspecified.. MAC has developed Model Town Meeting Articles to help you better understand the proper format for article questions.

Voter-backed Petition Articles

State statute requires warning must also contain any article requested by a voter-backed petition that meets the requirements of 17 V.S.A. § 2642(a)(3). Voter-backed petitions must be signed by at least five percent of the voters of the municipality and filed with the town clerk no fewer than 47 days before the Annual Meeting Day. 17 V.S.A. § 2642(a)(3)(A). The last day for petitions to be submitted for town meeting 2023 is Thursday, January 19. Petitions may include one or more article and must: • contain the petition language on each page on which signatures are collected; and • include the printed name, signature, and street address of each voter who signed the petition. Town clerks receiving petitions have a short timeframe in which to determine if they contain the required number of registered voters and otherwise conform to the requirements of 17 V.S.A. § 2642(a)(3)(A). Clerks must return a non-conforming petition within 24 hours to the petitioners, stating in writing the reasons it cannot be accepted. Petitioners may then file supplementary petitions no later than 48 hours after the petition is returned by the clerk or the filing deadline, whichever is later. For additional assistance, please refer to our Voter-Backed Petitions FAQ

Legislative bodies are not required to publish articles if the question proposed cannot be legally decided by the voters. See the Vermont Supreme Court’s decision in the Robert A. Skiff, Jr. et al v. South Burlington School District case (2019), Legislative bodies also have the discretionary authority to decide whether a non-statutory petition should be placed as an article on warning. If a petitioned is advisory or non-binding the legislative body has the discretion of whether to place it on the ballot.

Social Service Appropriations

Social service appropriations are binding articles, which voters may appropriate money to support. Because of the proliferation of social service agency requests, selectboards may find it helpful to adopt a policy like the one here to manage these requests instead of dealing with an influx of petitions. s.

Posting Requirements

  • in at least two public places in the municipality
  • In or near the town clerk’s office.
  • If the town has more than one polling place and they are not in the same building, the warning and notice must be posted in at least two public places within each voting district.
  • Published in a newspaper of general circulation (at least five days before the town meeting), unless it is published in the town report. 24 V.S.A. § 1682.
  • Town website (if the website is actively maintained and updated).

Pertains to Roles: