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Burlington voters will again consider who is allowed to vote on Town Meeting Day

A white, blue and green checkered sign with writing on it near a road.
Eamon Dunn
Community News Service
On Town Meeting Day, Burlington residents will once again consider all legal resident voting.

On Town Meeting Day, Burlington will vote on a provision to allow all legal resident voting.

If the provision passes, green card holders, participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or DACA program, and people with eligible work permits would be able to vote in municipal elections.

That’s as long as they meet other voter eligibility qualifications such as being over the age of 18 and registered to vote.

If the measure passes, an estimated5.5% of Burlington’s population — the equivalent of a few thousand voters — would gain the right to cast a ballot.

"The charter change proposal is to allow legal residents who are not citizens of the U.S. but reside in the U.S. on a permanent or non-temporary basis to vote in local municipal elections,” said Gillian Nanton, assistant director of community engagement, neighborhoods and workforce development for the City of Burlington's Community & Economic Development Office, or CEDO.

Nanton said CEDO has been assisting in the outreach and education efforts around this ballot item, including creating a website with information and answers to frequently asked questions, outreach on social media, producing informational videos in multiple languages, posting on Front Porch Forum and distributing hundreds of lawn signs.

Burlington residents voted this provision down in 2015, but since then bothMontpelier and Winooski have passed similar measures.

"I think that Winooski and Montpelier having passed it makes a big difference," said Burlington City Councilor Gene Bergman, a Progressive representing Ward 2. "I think there are a lot of people in this city who don't like to be first."

If passed by voters, the charter change would then have to be approved by the Legislature and signed by the governor. Both Montpelier's and Winooski's provisions were vetoed by Gov. Phil Scott before the Legislature overruled the governor's vetoes.

This story is a collaboration between Vermont Public and the Community News Service. The Community News Service is a student-powered partnership between the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program and community newspapers across Vermont.

Eamon Dunn is a junior at the University of Vermont studying English.
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