By approving teen voting charter changes, lawmakers usurp state constitution

VERNON — The Vermont Constitution lays out our state's governmental structure and also our rights as inhabitants. Therefore, it is understood to be the supreme foundational law of the state of Vermont.

The aim and overall purpose of the Vermont Constitution is communicated in Article 7. It was written for the common benefit of all the people, for equal consideration, equal freedom and equal justice. It is expressly not for the advantage or favoritism of a person or set of persons.

Vermonters' expectations that the state constitution will be respected, adhered to, and preserved is justified by the oath of allegiance that state elected officials take as they assume their various offices: to “be true and faithful to the State of Vermont and that you will not, directly or indirectly, do any act or thing injurious to the Constitution or Government thereof.”

Vermonters should expect that the lawful process laid out to amend the state constitution will be followed by their elected representatives. That process rightfully involves the people of Vermont as having the last say in any proposed changes through a statewide vote.

Some of our present Vermont lawmakers have proposed and voted on two bills that seek to change the Vermont Constitution. Rather than following the lawful process to amend it, they are flagrantly usurping the people of Vermont - those they are elected to represent.

Requirements necessary to qualify as a voter in Vermont are laid out in the Vermont Constitution. One requirement is to be 18 years of age and another is to be a United States citizen.

Vermont lawmakers have proposed bills that would allow the voting age to change to 16 years old in Brattleboro and also allow for non-citizens to vote in Montpelier.

Why are state lawmakers ignoring the voter qualifications that are clearly written in the Vermont Constitution? Why are they ignoring the amendment process and leaving out the people of Vermont? Why are Vermont lawmakers trying to pass laws giving advantage and favoritism to certain groups of people in Vermont?

We have asked these lawmakers these questions, and we have not received answers.

If we can't depend on those we elect to keep their oaths and protect our constitution and government, how is ours a government for the people, by the people? Have Vermont lawmakers become the law? Has our state government become a government of the lawmakers by the lawmakers?

Who will protect we, the people, from the unlawful acts of our own state lawmakers?

What is the peoples' recourse for these violations of public trust?

As laid out in Article 6, it is our citizen function as the people of Vermont to hold our elected officials accountable to the law.

Please contact Vermont elected officials and lawmakers and give your input on this important matter. The Windham County area lawmakers who have proposed and agreed by vote to such changes are: Rep. Emilie Kornheiser (Windham 2-1); Rep. Emily Long (Windham-5); Rep. Tristan Toleno (Windham 2-3); Rep. Mollie Burke (Windham 2-2); Brattleboro Rep. Sara Coffey (Windham-1); Rep. Michael Mrowicki (Windham-4); Rep. Carolyn Partridge (Windham-3).

Many other Vermont lawmakers also agreed on these changes through two proposed bills: H.177 and H.361. To see the legislative history, including the roll call vote list, visit bit.ly/613-montpelier-charter and bit.ly/613-brattleboro-charter.

Subscribe to the newsletter for weekly updates