According the Vermont Secretary of State, town meeting is a tradition dating back to before there was a Vermont. The first town meeting was held in Bennington in 1762, 15 years before Vermont was created--and 20 years before Waitsfield was chartered.
Like most other communities in Vermont, Waitsfield's town meeting--or annual meeting--is always held on the first Tuesday of March. It is at this meeting that we elect local officials, approve a budget for the coming year, and conduct other local business. Although only registered voters of the town are allowed to cast their votes, all citizens are welcomed to attend. The town meeting warning tells us when and where town meeting will be held, and it lists all the items that are going to be discussed and voted on at the meeting.
Waitsfield's meeting includes both the traditional "floor meeting" and voting by Australian ballot. During the floor meeting, voters speak directly for themselves and may ask questions, make comments, seek to clarify or amend items to be voted, or to try to persuade those present on whether or not to vote for a particular measure. This discourse is managed by a Town Moderator, who is elected at the beginning of the meeting every year. Minutes of the meeting are kept by the Town Clerk. The Australian ballot is a secret ballot where voters can show up at the polling place during the alotted time--in our case between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m.--and mark their vote on a printed ballot, which is tallied after the polls have closed. (According to the Sectretary of State's office, Australian ballot voting was adopted in Vermont in 1892 and was the system of voting that was being used at that time in Australia.)
The Town accomodates same day voter registration at Town Meeting, Tuesday, March 5th 2024.