Vermont voters approved a constitutional amendment Tuesday that makes clear that slavery and indentured servitude are prohibited in the state.
Former Vermont State Lawmaker Debbie Ingram, who helped craft the proposal, said it was a big step forward in state history.
“I was elated last night when I watched the election returns,” Ingram said. “It’s a testament of Vermonters being really decent people.”
Vermont was one of four states that approved ballot measures to change their state constitutions to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude as punishment for crime.
In Vermont, the amendment removes language that allowed indentured servitude by consent and adds that “slavery and indentured servitude in any form are prohibited.”
“This could have an impact in terms of practices that they have like payment of prison labor,” Ingram says. “It could have an impact on human trafficking laws or elsewhere.”
Public opposition to the measure was nearly nonexistent, but more than 18,000 Vermonters voted it. Ingram said that was fewer than supporters expected.
“it is disturbing to see so many people vote against but quite frankly, I thought we were going to see even more people,” Ingram says.
Alabama, Oregon, and Tennessee passed similar constitutional amendments. Louisiana voters, however, rejected a ballot measure to remove language that permits slavery as punishment for criminal convictions.