Montpelier Weighs Changes To Its Petition Policy

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(Host) Voters in Montpelier on Town Meeting Day next month are going to decide on a change to the city’s charter.

It would increase the signature requirement for legally binding petitions from 5 percent of registered voters to 10 percent.

Montpelier’s City Manager Bill Frasier says City Council members have asked to raise the bar for filing petitions, because Montpelier has seen an overwhelming increase in them.

(Frasier) "The feeling was that we do get a lot for funding, and that given local concerns about the tax rate and other public spending they wanted to make sure there was a higher threshold of people that had signed onto these things before they went onto the ballot."

(Host) State law says petitions must contain signatures of at least 5 percent of the voters, and must be received by the Select Board or City Council at least 40 days prior to Town Meeting.

Jim Condos is Vermont’s Secretary of State. He’s also a Montpelier resident, and he says more and more towns are changing their petition requirements.

(Condos) "They want to make sure that your ballot doesn’t get overwhelmed by one petition after another. In the position that Montpelier is in, there’s some 40 ballot questions. That’s a lot for a voter to go through. But in many cases some of the voters like it and some don’t. It really is up to each town to make the decision on what they need to do."

(Host)  Condos says since Montpelier is proposing a charter change, voters will have to approve raising the signature requirement before it goes to the Legislature for its approval.

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