The Mountain Times

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Killington adopts the Australian Ballot for Town Meeting elections

This is the first year that Killington voters will not participate in a traditional Town Meeting where votes are cast from the floor, instead opting for the Australian Ballot.

Killington residents voted for this change at a Special Town Meeting on May 9, 2011. The Australian Ballot requires voters to simply mark "yes" or "no" next to each article. Voters can vote on election day, Tuesday, March 6, 2012 at the Killington Elementary School from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. or via absentee ballots accepted up until the Monday before elections (March 5).

Ballots for Town Meeting, Presidential Primary and the WUHS District #4 Budget votes are available at the Town Clerk's office or by calling 422-3243 or by email.

Town Meeting Day across Vermont is always the first Tuesday in March. Each town can opt to vote either by "floor meeting" or by "Australian Ballot" or by using a combination of both voting methods.

Prior to this year, all important decisions were discussed and voted upon via floor meeting. At a floor meeting, citizens speak up seeking to clarify or amend items to be voted upon, or to persuade those present on whether or not to vote for a particular measure. "If the budget is voted down, officials understand the reasons the residents rejected it," said Lucrecia Wonsor, Killington town clerk.

Floor meetings can last a few hours or they can go all day depending on how many articles are on the warning and how much discussion there is over the issues raised by the articles prior to voting.

By contrast, Australian Ballot voting takes only a few minutes. The warning is set a month prior and cannot be amended. Voters mark a secret ballot which is counted when the polls close. This is how we cast our ballots at the general election in November.

Since residents do not need to be physically present to vote, the Australian Ballot is commonly thought to increase voter participation, and many hope that it will as attendance at Killington Town Meetings had been declining.

However, some are doubtful that the change to Australian Ballot will increase voter turnout.

"In reality, people don't take their right to vote seriously," said Lucrecia Wonsor, Killington town clerk. "While this method is more convenient for people, unfortunately, I don't expect it will increase voter participation significantly," she said.

One concern that town officials share is that voters will not have the opportunity to ask questions about the articles to clarify their understanding of what is at stake. "An informational meeting will be held on the Monday before election day for residents to ask questions and gain a better understanding of why and how the articles came to appear on the ballot," said Seth Webb, Killington interim town manager. "This is a very important meeting and we hope to see a great turnout."

The informational meeting to discuss articles on the Town Meeting Warning will be held at the Killington Elementary School Gym on Schoolhouse Road, March 5, at 7 p.m.

Note: The Killington School District Meeting will take place on March 6, at 9 a.m. at the Killington Elementary School Gym on Schoolhouse Road. Voting on all articles on the School District Meeting Warning will continue be decided from the floor.

Tagged: Town of Killington, The Austrailian Ballot