Tinmouth Considers Return To Floor Vote

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(Host) According to the secretary of state, most Vermont towns use a combination of floor votes and Australian Ballot.   

And while it’s not unusual to hear about towns forgoing floor votes in favor of Australian ballots – it’s almost unheard of to hear about towns going the other way.   

But as VPR’s Nina Keck reports, that’s exactly what voters in Tinmouth will decide today.

(Keck)  Tinmouth Town Clerk Gail Fallar says in 2006 a petition to switch from the more traditional floor vote to Australian ballot won by a very narrow margin.

(Fallar) "So we gave it a chance – and we thought some people are starting to forget what Town Meeting was – and we really liked Town Meeting and it was a really close vote so let’s see if we can find a compromise."

(Keck) She says voters in Tinmouth will decide separately whether to discontinue the use of Australian ballot for budgets, officers and public questions for both the town and the school.

(Fallar)  "I have my fingers crossed that they’ll come up with a combination."

(Keck) The issue stirred up a lot of emotion at an informational meeting last night. Here’s Tinmouth resident Nelson Jaquay.

(Jaquay) "I think the most important thing about our voting is that we know what we’re voting about.  And I think what happens when we do it from the floor is we have a chance to influence to change from the floor – amend this, amend that and really kick something around and I’m tired of people complaining that they can’t make it. 

(Keck) But Angela Buffum says a pure floor vote does have its drawbacks.

(Buffum) "You know with just doing strictly town meeting with everything – we’re disregarding the military oversees they’re unable to do any town voting. Elderly who are not able to leave their homes they’re not going to be able to vote – there’s people who would be not able to give their input even if they wanted to."

(Keck)  Deb Thompson says much is made about how much more convenient Australian ballots are for townspeople.  But she says town meeting is about participatory democracy.

(Thompson) "And the founders didn’t come up with this format because it was convenient."

(Keck) For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck in Tinmouth.

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