ReflectionsonDemocracy

Wendy McCullough

has been Town Clerk of Tunbridge, Vermont since 2000.
As of the 2000 census the town population was 1,309.
Tunbridge had an 80% voter turnout in the 2008 presidential election.

What are your town meetings like?

We have school meeting on Monday night, town meetings Tuesday, everything is done from the floor, all voting is on the floor. No Austrailian ballot for anything, and we hope to keep it that way. I think the main reason is, if you’re really interested you should be there to vote. Not go to the meeting and come to the polls the next day. Because you can’t discuss with Australian ballot, you’re very limited on what you can discuss before the vote.

What are the lessons that local government can pass on to the state and federal governments?

Vermont state government needs to work as a whole as we do in our local government and communities; when implementing changes and passing new bills at the state level, they need to think, through the whole process to the actual taxpayer’s wallet, as we do in our budget process and at our town meetings.

Many, many times changes have been implemented and new bills passed at the state level without enough budgeting to assure proper procedures and staffing to carry out the intent, therefore the burden once again falls on us the taxpayers, more taxes need to be raised to fund a project that we as taxpayers thought was funded when the original change was made and the bill was passed.

When you have a floor vote during town meeting how do you know that the person raising their hand to vote is a registered voter?

Each year at town meeting I hand out a colored index card. So when they raise their hand to vote, they have something in their hand saying they were checked off the checklist. We have such a small community, fortunately, that if someone raises their hand, you know that they’re a registered voter or they live here. If they are not on the checklist, it’s pretty easy for me to pick them out.