Montpelier City Clerk John Odum announced today that his office is launching an online voter guide in advance of the March 7 Annual City Meeting. The guide (which can be found on the Clerk’s website and can also be reached directly by the URL montpeliervoterguide.org) will afford city residents both a means to review candidates and ballot articles to be voted on, as well as to offer commentaries for public review in the weeks leading up to the Town Meeting Day Australian ballot election.
Inspired by similar printed voter guides in other states, the website invites candidates for city office to submit a picture and a statement for posting. It also lists the ballot articles as finalized at the January 26 City Council meetings and provides a venue for readers to offer commentaries in either support or opposition to each proposal (commentaries will not be accepted relating to the candidates themselves, at least for this year). City Clerk John Odum, who spent many years in online media, stresses that this is not going to be anything resembling a blog or a free-for-all zone.
“Commentaries must be submitted via email to me directly for posting, and there are specific restrictions. First, writers must provide their names and they must be registered Montpelier voters. In addition, commentaries cannot be insulting or abusive, and must advocate ‘pro’ or ‘con’ directly with the ballot question, as opposed to being a response to someone else’s commentary. There will not be an opportunity for any kind of back-and-forth, or tit-for-tat debates like you see in online comment sections.”
The Clerk’s office plans to promote the service through social media, including Front Porch Forum. Candidates will be added only after they have formally qualified for the ballot, and materials will only be available if they are submitted by the candidates themselves. The deadline in Montpelier for candidates to file petitions with the City Clerk’s office is February 5th. As this is a Sunday when offices are closed, candidates may use the drop box to the left of the rear door to City Hall.