MONTPELIER – On Thursday, the Vermont Senate passed H.48, a bill that will allow towns to move the date of their Town Meeting Day election. The bill also allows towns to send voters ballots by mail to avoid crowded polling locations on March 2.

The bill does not, however, make it mandatory for towns to mail ballots to registered voters. That was a cause for concern among some lawmakers, including Sen. Corey Parent (R-Franklin).

Parent wondered why municipalities won’t be required to send ballots by mail, considering that the pandemic will likely be worse in March than it was during the November election.

“I’m disappointed that we didn’t address this last June or last September,” Sen. Parent said. “The way we’re doing it now, I don’t think it puts the health of Vermonters first.”

In response, Sen. Jeanne White (D-Windham) said the optional method has widespread support and made the most sense for Town Meeting Day.

“Some towns are very small with few voters, and would like to run their Town Meetings exactly like they have in the past,” Sen. White said. “We decided one-size-fits-all does not fit for Vermont towns.

Despite Sen. Parent’s concerns, he voted for the bill. It passed unanimously in the Senate, and will now move to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott for final approval.