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The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 17: Elections

Chapter 034A: PERIODIC REAPPORTIONMENT

  • § 1901. Purpose

    The supreme court of the United States has ruled that the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution requires all state legislative bodies to be apportioned in such manner as to achieve substantially equal weighting of the votes of all voters in the choice of legislators. To comply with such requirement it will be necessary to reapportion the house of representatives at periodic intervals, so that changes may be recognized in legislative apportionment. It is the purpose of this chapter to achieve such reapportionment in an orderly and impartial manner. (Added 1965, No. 97, § 1.)

  • § 1902. Definitions

    As used in this chapter:

    (1) "Apportionment standard for the house of representatives" means the number obtained by dividing the total population in the state by the number of members of the house of representatives of the general assembly.

    (2) "Apportionment standard for the senate" means the number obtained by dividing the total population in the state by the number of members of the senate.

    (3) "Board" means the legislative apportionment board.

    (4) "Population" means the most recent census taken under the authority of Congress or a special census ordered to be taken by the legislature. (1965, No. 97, § 2; amended 1981, No. 30, § 2, eff. April 16, 1981, and shall apply to the 1981-82 reapportionment; 1991, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. Feb. 13, 1992.)

  • § 1903. Periodic reapportionment; standards

    (a) The house of representatives and the senate shall be reapportioned and redistricted on the basis of population during the biennial session after the taking of each decennial census of the United States, or after a census taken for the purpose of such reapportionment under the authority of this state.

    (b) The standard for creating districts for the election of representatives to the general assembly shall be to form representative districts with minimum percentages of deviation from the apportionment standard for the house of representatives. The standard for creating districts for the election of senators on a county basis to the general assembly shall be to form senatorial districts with minimum percentages of deviation from the apportionment standard for the senate. The representative and senatorial districts shall be formed consistent with the following policies insofar as practicable:

    (1) preservation of existing political subdivision lines;

    (2) recognition and maintenance of patterns of geography, social interaction, trade, political ties, and common interests;

    (3) use of compact and contiguous territory. (Added 1965, No. 97, § 3; amended 1973, No. 210 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. April 3, 1974; 1981, No. 30, §§ 3, 7, eff. April 16, 1981, and shall apply to the 1981-82 reapportionment; 1991, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. Feb. 13, 1992.)

  • § 1904. Legislative apportionment board

    (a) There is hereby created the legislative apportionment board, consisting of: a special master designated by the chief justice of the supreme court; one resident of the state of Vermont for five years immediately preceding the appointment, appointed by the governor from each political party that has had more than three members serve as members of the general assembly, who are not all from the same county, for at least three of the five biennial legislative sessions since the taking of the previous decennial census of the United States; and one resident of the state of Vermont for the five years immediately preceding the appointment, elected by the state committee of each of those political parties, a quorum of each committee being present and voting. No member of the board shall serve as a member or employee of the general assembly, or of either house thereof. The special master so designated shall be chair of the board, and shall call such meetings as may be necessary for the accomplishment of the duties of the board hereafter set forth. The secretary of state of Vermont shall be secretary of the board, but shall have no vote. For the purpose of determining representation of a political party under this section, if a candidate for election to the general assembly accepted a nomination from more than one political party, that candidate's party affiliation shall be only that political party to which he or she filed a petition for nomination.

    (b) Members of the board shall first be selected on or before July 1, 1990, and thereafter members shall be selected decennially before July 1 and shall serve until their successors are selected. The appointing or electing authority shall fill vacancies.

    (c) For administrative purposes, the board shall be part of the office of the secretary of state, and funds for the board's operation shall be appropriated for the secretary of state, provided, however, that expenditures of such appropriation shall be directed by the board.

    (d) Members of the board not receiving a salary from the state shall receive per diem compensation and expenses as provided in 32 V.S.A. § 1010.

    (e) The board may employ or contract for such expert assistants or services, or both, as may be necessary to carry out its duties. (Added 1965, No. 97, § 4; amended 1989, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 6a, 6b; 1991, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. Feb. 13, 1992; 2009, No. 18, § 1.)

  • § 1905. House apportionment-Tentative proposal

    On or before July 1 of the year following each decennial census under the authority of Congress, the board shall prepare a tentative proposal for the reapportionment of the house of representatives. Whenever, in the tentative proposal, it appears that one town or city should be divided into two or more initial districts, or that part of one town or city should be combined with part or all of another town or city to form an initial district, the board shall immediately notify the board of civil authority of each town and city thus affected. The boards of civil authority may, on or before August 1, recommend to the legislative apportionment board the manner in which initial district lines within those towns and cities should be drawn, always having regard for the standards of apportionment set forth in section 1903 of this title. Upon request of any board of civil authority, the legislative apportionment board shall designate one of its members, or a person designated in section 1908 of this title, to call and preside without vote over a joint meeting of two or more boards of civil authority for the purpose of making joint recommendations. (1965, No. 97, § 5; amended 1973, No. 210 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. April 3, 1974; 1981, No. 30, § 4, eff. April 16, 1981, and shall apply to the 1981-82 reapportionment; 1989, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 6c; 1991, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. Feb. 13, 1992; 1999, No. 68 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2001, No. 36, § 1.)

  • § 1906. Initial districts; final proposal; final plan

    Upon receiving recommendations made under section 1905 of this title, the board shall consider the same, and shall, not later than August 15, prepare a final proposal for dividing the state into initial districts for the election of 150 representatives. The chair of the board shall, on or before August 15, transmit such proposal to the clerk of the house, and the proposal shall then be referred to the appropriate committee. The general assembly shall then accept the proposal and enact it into law or substitute another plan for reapportionment; provided, however, that

    (1) The plan for initial districts finally approved shall be in conformity with the provisions of this chapter; and

    (2) Be duly enacted during the said biennial legislative session. (1965, No. 97, § 6; amended 1973, No. 210 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. April 3, 1974; 1981, No. 129 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. March 23, 1982; 1989, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 6d; 1991 No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. Feb. 13, 1992; 1999, No. 68 (Adj. Sess.), § 2; 2001, No. 36, § 2.)

  • § 1906a. Final division into representative districts

    (a) Each initial district listed in section 1893 of this title which is entitled to one representative shall constitute a representative district and may elect one representative at elections for representatives until the next reapportionment.

    (b) Each initial district listed in section 1893 of this title which is entitled to elect two representatives shall constitute a representative district and may elect two representatives at elections for representatives until the next reapportionment, unless such district is divided into two single-member representative districts as provided in section 1906b of this title, in which case the resulting single-member representative districts shall each be entitled to elect one representative at elections for representatives until the next reapportionment.

    (c) Each initial district listed in section 1893 of this title which is entitled to elect three or more representatives shall be further divided into single- or two-member representative districts or a combination of single- and two-member representative districts, as provided in section 1906c of this title, each of which shall be entitled to elect the appropriate number of representatives at elections for representatives until the next reapportionment.

    (d) A copy of the final plan for initial districts, and approved plans for dividing multi-member districts into representative districts, shall be filed with the secretary of state and shall be available for public inspection. In addition, a copy of the plan for dividing a multi-member initial district into representative districts shall be filed with the town clerk of each town in the district so divided. (Added 1991, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. Feb. 13, 1992.)

  • § 1906b. Division of two-member representative districts

    (a) An initial district entitled to two representatives under section 1893 of this title may be divided into single-member representative districts as provided in this section.

    (b) As soon as practical after enactment of a final plan for initial districts under section 1906 of this title, the boards of civil authority of the town or towns which constitute 25 percent or more of the population of the initial district may call a meeting of the boards of civil authority of the town or towns of the initial district for the purpose of preparing a proposal for division of the district. Each board shall have one vote, provided that the proposal shall not provide for a representative district line to be drawn through a town if the board of civil authority of that town objects.

    (c) In making a proposal under this section, the boards of civil authority shall consider

    (1) preservation of existing political subdivision lines;

    (2) recognition and maintenance of patterns of geography, social interaction, trade, political ties, and common interests;

    (3) use of compact and contiguous territory;

    (4) incumbencies.

    (d) In no initial district divided under this section shall the percentage of deviation result in a representative district which extends the limits of the overall range of the percentage of deviation in the initial district plan for reapportionment enacted by the general assembly under section 1906 of this title.

    (e) On or before April 1 of the year of the general election next after enactment of the final plan under section 1906 of this title, the boards of civil authority of the town or towns within each initial district proposing division under this section shall present a proposal for division to the clerk of the house, and the proposal shall be referred to the appropriate committee. If the boards of civil authority desire to divide the initial district but are unable to obtain a majority vote on a proposed division, they may notify the clerk of the house on or before April 1 of their failure to agree on a proposal and request that the general assembly divide the initial district, and the general assembly may divide the initial district into single-member representative districts.

    (f) Representative districts proposed under this section shall become effective when approved by the general assembly before adjournment sine die. The general assembly shall approve representative districts proposed by the boards of civil authority if they are consistent with the standards set forth in this section. (Added 1991, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. Feb. 13, 1992.)

  • § 1906c. Division of districts having three or more representatives

    (a) An initial district entitled to three or more representatives under section 1893 of this title shall be divided into single- and two-member representative districts as provided in this section.

    (b) As soon as practical after enactment of a final plan for initial districts under section 1906 of this title, the boards of civil authority of the town or towns within an initial district having three or more representatives shall meet and prepare a proposal for division of the district. Each board shall have one vote, provided that the proposal shall not provide for a representative district line to be drawn through a town if the board of civil authority of that town objects.

    (c) In making a proposal under this section, the boards of civil authority shall consider

    (1) preservation of existing political subdivision lines;

    (2) recognition and maintenance of patterns of geography, social interaction, trade, political ties, and common interests;

    (3) use of compact and contiguous territory;

    (4) incumbencies.

    (d) In no initial district divided under this section shall the percentage of deviation result in a representative district which extends the limits of the overall range of the percentage of deviation in the initial district plan for reapportionment enacted by the general assembly under section 1906 of this title.

    (e) On or before April 1 of the year of the general election next after enactment of the final plan under section 1906 of this title, the boards of civil authority of the town or towns within each initial district subject to this section shall present a proposal for division to the clerk of the house, and the proposal shall be referred to the appropriate committee. If the boards of civil authority are unable to obtain a majority vote on a proposed division, they shall notify the clerk of the house, on or before April 1, of their failure to agree on a proposal, and the general assembly shall divide the initial district into representative districts.

    (f) Representative districts proposed under this section shall become effective when approved by the general assembly before adjournment sine die. The general assembly shall approve representative districts proposed by the boards of civil authority if they are consistent with the standards set forth in this section. (Added 1991, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 11, eff. Feb. 13, 1992.)

  • § 1907. Senate apportionment

    On or before July 1 of each year following the taking of a decennial census under the authority of congress, the board shall prepare a proposal for reapportionment of the senate, apportioning the 30 senatorial seats among the counties or combinations of counties, in such manner as to achieve substantial equality in the choice of members as guaranteed by the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The chair of the board shall transmit such proposal to the secretary of the senate and it shall be referred to the appropriate committee. The general assembly shall then accept the proposal and enact it into law or substitute another plan for reapportionment of the senate. (Added 1965, No. 97, § 7; amended 1989, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 6e; 1991, No. 217 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. May 22, 1992; 1999, No. 68 (Adj. Sess.), § 3; 2001, No. 36, § 3.)

  • § 1908. Powers of board

    The legislative apportionment board shall have the following powers:

    (1) To call for, and receive, the assistance of any state, county, or municipal official or employee in obtaining information regarding the population in any county, town, city, village, ward, precinct, or water, fire, or school district;

    (2) To hold public hearings in any town or city for the purpose of obtaining information relevant to reapportionment of the general assembly;

    (3) To delegate, under regulations adopted by it, any of the foregoing powers to one or more of its members, or to investigators or hearing examiners in its employ. (Added 1965, No. 97, § 8; amended 1981, No. 30, § 5, eff. April 16, 1981, and shall apply to the 1981-82 reapportionment.)

  • § 1909. Review

    (a) Within 30 days of the effective date of any apportionment bill enacted pursuant to section 1906b, 1906c, or 1907 of this title, any five or more freemen of the state aggrieved by the plan or act may petition the supreme court of Vermont for review of same.

    (b) The sole grounds of review to be considered by the supreme court shall be that the apportionment plan, or any part of it, is unconstitutional or violates section 1903 of this title.

    (c) The supreme court may consolidate two or more appeals, as the interests of justice may require, with due regard for expediting decision in all appeals.

    (d) The supreme court may designate one or more justices, one or more superior judges, or one or more masters, to take testimony and make findings of fact in any appeal or consolidated appeals under this section.

    (e) In the event the supreme court allows any appeal upon one or both grounds set forth in subsection (b) of this section, it shall forward its opinion and decision to the general assembly which shall forthwith revise and correct the apportionment law in light of the supreme court's decision, to conform to the requirements of law. The supreme court shall retain jurisdiction until the general assembly has produced a plan conforming to all constitutional and statutory requirements, which plan shall thereupon become law.

    (f) The review provided in this section shall be the original and exclusive review of legislative apportionment in the courts of this state. (Added 1965, No. 97, § 9; amended 1991, No. 116 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. Feb. 13, 1992.)

  • §§ 1910, 1911. Repealed. 1973, No. 210 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. April 3, 1974.