FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
News from the Vermont Democratic Party
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
Phil Scott Vetoes More Legislation Than Any Other Vermont Governor in History
Montpelier and Winooski Charter Changes to Expand Voting Rights Declined by Governor
MONTPELIER, VT — Governor Phil Scott has broken Vermont’s veto record and has now signed 23 vetoes, more than any governor in Vermont history.
Last night, Governor Scott vetoed H.177 and H.277, two bills that would have approved charter amendments in Montpelier and Winooski to allow non-citizen residents to vote in their local elections. These charter changes passed handily in their respective municipalities by Australian ballot, receiving 71% approval in Winooski and 65% approval in Montpelier.
Scott’s vetoes discount the voices of residents in those communities who overwhelmingly approved those measures in recent elections.
He cited “inconsistency in election policy, as well as separate and unequal classes of residents potentially eligible to vote on local issues” as the concerns that informed his veto decisions. He then asked the Legislature to revisit the topic and develop a statewide policy or uniform process for municipalities wishing to do so to grant the voting right in local elections "to all legal residents."
In a statement Wednesday morning, Speaker of the House Jill Krowinski said:
“Vermont has a long history of local control and Vermonters value the right to make decisions for their individual communities. One of Vermont’s core values is our belief in the right across our 14 counties, in all of our cities, towns and villages, for Vermonters to have a voice in making the choices that best fit their communities. The voters of Montpelier and Winooski deliberated and made the decision to expand voting to members of their communities that did not fit the current voter access requirements. The legislature did their due diligence, recognizing and respecting those decisions, by debating and approving both of these charter changes, which expand access to voting only in local elections.
“It is important for us to pass legislation that touches all corners of our state, but it is also important for us to recognize the unique needs of our individual communities and their right to shape the future of local elections as the majority of their voters see fit.”
The legislature is returning on June 23 to June 24. According to the Speaker, “This is something that we feel strongly must be addressed to recognize and honor the voices of the citizens of Montpelier and Winooski.”
Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint said in a statement, “"According to the Vermont Constitution, the legislature grants authority to towns for what they can and cannot do. As I've said before this session, voting is one of the most sacred rights and responsibilities we have. When we make voting more accessible, democracy better reflects the will of the people. I would welcome a more comprehensive discussion on non-citizen voting, but I don't think residents of Winooski and Montpelier should have to wait for that discussion. They've made their voices heard on this issue and we should let them lead the way."
When the charter changes were initially passed in the House and the Senate, they were criticized by right-wing news outlets including Fox News.
Vermont Democratic Party Chair Bruce Olsson said, “Phil Scott is saying to Vermonters: ‘I know better than you do; I know what your communities need better than you do.’”
Looks like Vermont’s Republican Governor is riding the national Republican wave of limiting voter participation.
Vermont Democratic Party