I. Town’s role in Vermont Politics
A. Origin of Vermont Towns
B. Real Voter’s Paradox: Americans vote even though they can’t make a
1. Most important determining factor in voter turnout is Rain.
“republicans always pray for rain
2. your vote is 1/n (n=number of other votes)
In town meeting, this makes a significantly greater impact than
in a presidential election.
Number and size of small towns
C. Home Rule Legislation
1. Constitutional/Statutory protection of county protection of towns
D. Each town had a legislator in a Unicameral house.
1. Reapportionment in the 1960’s undoes this
II. Rampant Misuse of the term “Town Meeting”
A. Now more commonly corrected by term “Town Hall” February 28 Class Notes
I. Information you should collect at public meetings you attend in
A. When the Meeting Begins and Ends
B. Once 15 minutes go by
1. Total # people present
2. Total # women present
3. Total number seats available
4. Total number empty seats
5. Total number town officers who participate verbally
6. Total number officers who participate
C. General weather conditions
D. Description of people who speak and the # of article they speak on. (grid)
II. Participation: The Presidency vs. Town Meeting
1. Turnout= 50%-60%
2. Once every 4 years
3. Takes 30 minutes
4. No psychic threats
5. Little physical hardship
6. Doesn’t significantly interrupt the day 7. Doesn’t cost anything to the citizen
8. lot of money spent urging citizens to participate
B. Town Meeting
1. Turnout= 10%-20%
2. Once a year
3. Takes 3 Hours (Minimum Average)
4. Potential for psychic discomfort
5. A lot of physical hardship—hard chairs packed close together
6. Takes an evening and often a day
7. Often costs a day’s pay
III. Nature of Town Meeting
A. Town meeting is not a public hearing.
B. Town meeting is the floor session of the local legislature of a town.
C. The legislature is the town itself.
D. Thus, the town meeting is not representative democracy
1. The state government would like you to think it is the selectmen
representing you, but this is simply untrue.
E. Thus in Vermont's town meeting democracy, there is not a separation of
powers. Parties & Elections, ctd.
I. The Emergence of a Two Party System
A. Phil Hoff= 1 democrat elected in state of VT- Governor (1962)
1. ** NOT THE BREAKTHROUGH FOR THE VDP**
2. Not a catholic. (this was essential)
3. Narrow Margin
5. Off Year Election (not presidential)
This saved him
6. Considered as a Vice President Candidate
Biggest problem is VT home state