Town Meeting Day three weeks away

02/13/08 7:04AM By Patti Daniels

(Host) Town Meeting Day is three weeks from Tuesday - when voters will elect various officials, and debate town and school budgets.

But turnout in towns that hold traditional floor meetings is typically a small percentage of a town's voter checklist. The average was 17 percent in 2005.

Secretary of State Deb Markowitz is supporting a bill that would encourage more participation, by making it easier for voters to take time from work to go to Town Meeting.  Markowitz equates it to jury duty.

(Markowitz) "Jury duty we see as a civic obligation and our employers have got to give somebody the day off for jury duty...An employee doesn't have to be paid for that day, but they can't be penalized for taking that day. And I believe that Town Meeting fits that description."

(Host) Recent years have seen many towns take up Town Meeting resolutions that are national and global in scope - genetically modified seeds, Iraq war resolutions. Markowitz agrees that there seems to be less focus on national issues in the town warnings this year.

(Markowitz) "There are years when we have a lot, there are a lot of activists working on issues, and they are years when we have less. I would guess that it's in part because we're having a presidential election.  So we're having a national debate about a lot of issues relating to the direction of the country, but we'll be able to express our feelings about during the primary."

(Host) Vermont's presidential primary and Town Meeting Day is on Tuesday, March 4th. The last day to register to vote is Wednesday, February 27th.

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