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Thanks Will. This has been our practice since I took office 5 years ago. Unfortunately, we have had way too many re-votes, so we’ve had lots of practice!

 

Thanks again.

 

Carol D

 

From: Vermont Municipal Government Discussion Network [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Senning, Will
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 2:36 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: School budget revote

 

Hi Carol,

 

  This is the same question that Cassandra in Bennington had asked earlier this morning so this response should be able to answer both of you.  This is a grey area in the law that is not directly addressed in the statutes: whether or not, for a vote to reconsider or rescind an article voted on at annual meeting, the clerk should automatically send absentee ballots for the reconsideration or rescission to all of the same voters who had requested an absentee ballot for the annual meeting. 

 

  Our office has addressed this question in the past in our “Opinions Newsletter”.  I will copy the language from our March 2007 newsletter here:

 

16. Absentee ballots should be sent when there are votes to reconsider.  Although the law does not speak directly to requesting absentee ballots for reconsideration of an article by Australian ballot, we suggest that fairness dictates that the town clerk send absentee ballots for the reconsideration to all voters who had requested absentee ballots for town meeting.  A reconsideration is really an extension of that town meeting, and we believe that absent voters should continue to participate.

 

  As you can see, we are careful to note that there is no statute directing the clerks one way or another about this question.  This advice from our newsletter is the best advice we can provide, and has been the consistent advice from this office for many years.  Please let me know if this raises any questions or if there are particular circumstances for which we may be able to provide further advice.

 

  Regards,

 

Will

 

 

 

William Senning

Elections Administrator

Office of the Secretary of State

128 State Street

Montpelier, VT 05633-1101

Phone: (802) 828-0175

FAX: (802) 828-5171


From: Vermont Municipal Government Discussion Network [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Carol Dawes
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:49 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: School budget revote

 

Thanks Will.  The only legal question left unanswered is with regards to sending out absentee ballots to all those who requested them at the original election.  I ran this by Kathy Scheele several years ago and was told those original requesters are entitled to receive the re-vote ballot as the re-vote is a continuation of the original election.  Is there anything in statute to support that?

 

Thanks again.

 

Carol D

 

Carolyn S. Dawes, CVT

Barre City Clerk/Treasurer

6 North Main St.

PO Box 418

Barre, VT   05641

(802) 476-0242 phone

(802) 476-0264 fax

www.barrecity.org

 

 

 

From: Vermont Municipal Government Discussion Network [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Senning, Will
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 12:22 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: School budget revote

 

Roberta,

 

  The basic answer to the question you are raising is that you have to simply do your best in this situation to have the ballots prepared and sent to voters who request an absentee ballot as soon as possible – as far in advance of the vote as you can.  Due to the statutorily shortened time frame for votes on a budget after it has been rejected, it is impossible to comply with the standard absentee ballot requirements (that they be prepared no less than 20 days before the election and sent to the voter upon request.)

 

  There is support in the statutes for this approach.  16 V.S.A. 711e governs the process for union school districts that vote their budget by Australian ballot.  Subsection (a) makes it clear that union school district budget votes by Australian ballot should follow the procedures set out in 17 V.S.A. 2680.  Both of these statutes state that “[i]f the proposed budget is rejected . . . the date of the public informational meeting shall be at least five days following the public notice. [and] The date of the vote shall be at least seven days following the public notice.”  So it is clear from both of these statutes that there is a reduced warning time for a vote on a budget after it has been rejected – 7 days instead of the standard 30.  The reason for this is that the legislature saw a need for municipal budgets to be passed as soon as possible, and waiting thirty days to have a budget on the books was too long.

 

  Subsection (e) of 16 V.S.A. 711e states that “[u]nless clearly inconsistent, the provisions of 17 V.S.A. chapter 55 [“Local Elections”] shall apply to actions taken under this section.”  This means that, unless it is clearly inconsistent, the standard local election laws apply to these union school district budget votes.  Here, the provision of the election laws (Chap. 55) that requires ballots to be prepared no less than 20 days before the election is clearly inconsistent with the provision allowing for a meeting to be warned for no less than 7 days.  Since it is clearly inconsistent, and the absentee rules in Title 17 cannot possibly be applied, you are left to comply as closely as you possibly can with those laws.  In this case that means, as I stated at the beginning, you simply have to do your best to have the ballots prepared and available for absentee and early voters as soon as possible.

 

  I have reviewed your question and my response with the Agency of Education and they agree with this interpretation.    

 

  Please always feel free to contact me directly with your questions.

 

Regards,

 

Will

 

 

William Senning

Elections Administrator

Office of the Secretary of State

128 State Street

Montpelier, VT 05633-1101

Phone: (802) 828-0175

FAX: (802) 828-5171


From: Vermont Municipal Government Discussion Network [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of Roberta Dana
Sent: Monday, March 11, 2013 7:39 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: School budget revote

 

On Town meeting day, our union district school budget was not passed (Australian ballot).

The school board is planning on making final decisions on a new budget at a school board meeting to be held on March 14th.

They will need to print ballots and deliver them to the three town clerks in the district. 

They are planning on having the school budget revote on March 27th which is less than two weeks from their final budget decision meeting meaning that in my estimation, there will not be enough time allowed for the clerks to accept requests for absentee ballots, mail out absentee ballots and then for the registered voters to get their ballots returned to the town office by the end of voting day.  Also, we do have a situation where a registered voter is leaving the country on vacation more than likely before the ballots are ready meaning that this voter will NOT get a chance to vote on this issue.

Is this just a "tough luck" voter or is this a legal issue?

IMHO, the vote is being rushed and there could very well be more voters out there that will not be able to vote due to the constricted timing!

Any opinions are welcome!

 

 

 

Roberta Dana
Groton Town Treasurer
& Collector of Current Taxes
1476 Scott Hwy
Groton, VT 05046
802-584-3131
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