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. 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.
At Town Meeting last March, residents approved Articles to vote the municipal budget and any funding items in addition to the budget by Australian Ballot. On November 16, 2020, the Selectboard unanimously agreed to extend Australian Ballot voting to non-monetary Articles for Town Meeting 2021. There will be an informational hearing with regard to the budget and Articles, but no action can be taken to amend items. It is informational only. The annual Town Report to be distributed in January will feature the Remote Public Informational Hearing Agenda with details to access the hearing, an Informational Handout for the Remote Public Hearing, and the Town Meeting Warning featuring Articles to be voted by Australian Ballot.