Charter Change Ballot Items Explained

If you’re like us, you have found yourself in the voting booth on Election Day being asked to decide yea or nay on a legalistically worded ballot question and discover you have no idea what it’s about. Well here are the two charter change proposals Montpelier voters will be asked to decide on November 6 and what they would actually do.

The bold text is the wording you will see on the ballot and below that is the actual charter change language that is proposed. Article III is whether to allow non-U.S. citizens who live in Montpelier to vote on municipal matters, and Article 4 would give the city council the authority to ban the use of certain non-reusable plastics in the city. Each charter change, if passed by voters, must be approved the state legislature.

ARTICLE III Shall the city amend the city charter by adding Subchapter 15 —Supplemental Voting Registry to Section II allowing non-citizen legal residents to vote on Montpelier city ballot items?:

Charter change language:

Subchapter 15 Supplemental Voting Registry

§ 5–1501 Eligibility of Non-Citizen Voters

In addition to 17 V.S.A. § 2121, any person may register to vote in Montpelier City elections who, on election day:

(a) is a legal resident of the United States;

(b) is a resident of the city of Montpelier as defined in 17 V.S.A. § 2122(b);

(c) has taken the voter’s oath; and

(d) is 18 years of age or more.

§ 5–1502 Supplemental Voter Registry; City Clerk Duties to Maintain

Any non-citizen voter shall be placed on a separate, supplemental voter registry held by the City Clerk.  This supplemental voter registry shall be treated and maintained in the same manner as a voter checklist under 17 V.S.A. §§ 2141–et seq. The City Clerk shall develop all necessary forms and procedures for implementation of this subchapter.

§ 5–1503 City Election Ballot

In any election involving: (1) a federal, state, county, special district, or school district office or question; and (2) a city question or city office; the City Clerk shall prepare and provide to any non-citizen voter a ballot that contains only the city questions and candidates.

§ 5–1504 Definitions

(a) “Legal resident of the United States” means any non-citizen who resides in the United States on a permanent or indefinite basis in compliance with federal immigration laws.

(b) “Non-citizen voter” means any voter that registers and qualifies to vote in city elections under § 5–1501 but is not a citizen of the United States.  A non-citizen voter shall not be eligible to vote on any state or federal candidate or question by virtue of registration under § 5–1501.

(c) “Supplemental Voter Registry” means a voter checklist populated by voters who qualify under §5–1501 but are not citizens of the United States. Such checklist shall be held separate from any other voter checklist held or maintained by the City.

ARTICLE IV Shall the city amend section 5-301 the city charter to allow the city to regulate issues and activities within the city that relate to community and environmental sustainability, as agreed to by the City Council on October 3rd?

Charter change language adds item (9) to Council powers:

§ 5–301. Powers and duties of City Council

(9) Regulate, license, or prohibit, within the boundaries of the City, point of sale distribution of non-reusable plastic bags, non-reusable plastic straws and similar plastic products that are not reusable, and to define what constitutes reusable in this context.

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