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Here's how many teens and non-U.S. citizens voted legally on Town Meeting Day

People stand near white voting booths with red edges and an image of the American flag with the word vote
Mike Dougherty
Vermont Public
Voters at the polls in Montpelier on March 5. Montpelier is one of three Vermont cities where non-U.S. citizens can vote on local issues.

Over the past four years, as national political figures heatedly debated a wide spectrum of voting rights legislation, four Vermont municipalities took historic steps to enfranchise more residents.

Burlington recently joined Montpelier and Winooski in allowing all legal U.S. residents to vote on local races and ballot measures. And in Brattleboro, 16- and 17-year-olds can vote on local issues.

Despite the local support for noncitizen and under-18 voting, Town Meeting Day turnout among these new voting blocs was sparse.

More from Brave Little State: ‘Now I have my voice here’: The impact of noncitizen voting in Vermont

Montpelier: 13 noncitizen voters

Thirteen noncitizens voted in Montpelier for Town Meeting Day, out of 18 total noncitizen registrants. They account for less than half of 1% of Montpelier's total registered voters.

Montpelier was the first Vermont jurisdiction to explore the idea of noncitizen voting, and this March marked the third election in which noncitizens could vote.

Overall, Montpelier had one of the higher voter turnout rates in the state: 43% of registered voters cast ballots on Town Meeting Day.

Winooski: 11 noncitizen voters

Eleven noncitizens voted in Winooski for Town Meeting Day, out of 61 total noncitizen registrants.

Winooski is one of the most diverse municipalities in Vermont. Like Montpelier, Winooski has now had three Town Meeting Days with all legal resident voting, as it's called there.

Burlington: 62 noncitizen voters

Sixty-two noncitizens voted in Burlington for Town Meeting Day, out of 102 total noncitizen registrants.

"To see that more than 60 people took advantage of this possibility for the first time is both an indication that there is a desire for this, and a sense that, as we do this more in future local elections, I would hope that number would go up from there," said Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger.

This election was Burlington's first go-around with all legal resident voting, though formal conversations around changing the city's charter began back in 2015. The city's webpage on all legal resident voting says the program could impact "thousands of community members in Burlington."

Overall turnout nearly hit 47% — the highest it's been in a decade, due in large part to the city's mayoral race. Nearly 15,000 people voted.

Brattleboro: 20 under-18 voters

There are currently 47 youth voters registered, and 20 showed up to vote.

Overall turnout for Town Meeting Day in Brattleboro was 26%, with a total of 2,324 people voting out of 8,917 registered voters.

Vermont Secretary of State Sarah Copeland Hanzas, whose office oversees state and local elections, said she found these numbers "surprising," particularly in Brattleboro and Winooski. "I'm quite certain that there are more folks who would have been eligible," she said.

"I think it's just going to be a matter of a lot of people doing a little bit of work to try to encourage participation," she added. "My goal is to increase voter turnout across the board."

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.

Mikaela Lefrak is the host and senior producer of Vermont Edition. Her stories have aired nationally on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, Marketplace, The World and Here & Now. A seasoned local reporter, Mikaela has won two regional Edward R. Murrow awards and a Public Media Journalists Association award for her work.
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