Australian Ballot Allows for More Voices to be Heard

To the editor,

Australian ballot voting was adopted in Vermont in 1892 — so nothing new.  In 2008, only 61 towns out of 246 conducted all of their business by floor vote. That means 76% of towns use a combination of Australian ballot voting and traditional town meeting for deciding things such as who the local officials will be, town budgets, ordinance/bylaw changes etc. 100% of towns conduct town meetings.

The issue before voters in Greensboro is whether elected officials and changes to town ordinances should be voted on by Australian ballot or continue to be decided by floor voting. Clearly these are very important local matters.

Town Meeting Day is not convenient for everyone. Most voters are not government employees who have the day off. Some cannot physically make it to the meeting. Many voters are intimidated by those loudest in the room and would rather say nothing than stand up in front of a room full of people and present an opposing point of view.

Australian ballot voting, which is used in all US federal, state and most local elections, was “designed to eliminate bias and to prevent anyone from linking voter to ballot.” Australian ballot voting allows for those voters who elect to participate to vote in private for each official or issue in a timeframe that is suitable and without fear of public push-back.

Back to 2008, a study done by the State of Vermont showed that there is a dramatic increase in voter turnout when towns allow for a combination of traditional town meeting and Australian ballot voting (including absentee ballots). The results were 78.1% participation vs 21.1% when only floor voting was allowed. Isn’t greater participation desired?

Those who argue town meeting would become irrelevant are mistaken. Much discussion and voting will continue to take place during that forum. Furthermore, there is ample time ahead of voting day for candidates on the ballot to campaign, as well as suggested bylaw changes to be discussed.

Greensboro voters do care and want to be able to have their voices count. Vote to have more voices heard. Vote “yes” to article #3 and article #4.

Mary Parker
Greensboro