What Do Our Elected Officials Do?

The League of Women Voters has prepared an outline of primary duties of our elected officials. We hope this will help you as you head to the polls.

Federal Offices: US Senator, Representative to Congress

State Offices: Governor, Lieutenant Governor, State Treasurer, Secretary of State, Auditor of Accounts, Attorney General, State Senator, State Representative, Probate Judge, Assistant Judge, State's Attorney, Sheriff, High Bailiff

Duties of Elected Officials: Federal Offices

U.S. Senator

U.S. Senator is an elected member of Congress and serves a six year term. Each state elects two U.S. Senators. She/he must be at least 30 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and must inhabit the state she/he wants to represent at the time of election. U.S. Senators write and vote on laws, working part of the year in Washington, D.C. and part of the year in their home state.

Representative to Congress

U.S. Representative to Congress is elected to a two year term and the number of Representatives per state is in proportion to the population. Vermont has one U.S. Representative to Congress. The Representative must be at least 25 years old, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and inhabit the state they represent at the time of election. The chief duties of a U.S. Representative are to introduce bills and resolutions, offer amendments, serve on committees, and vote to pass laws in Congress.

Duties of Elected Officials: State Offices

Governor

The Governor is elected to use executive power to execute the laws of the State, may call special sessions of the Legislature, may recommend legislation and can sign and veto bills. The Governor also appoints the Secretaries of the Administrative Agencies, and chairpersons of various boards and commissions. She/he is obliged to report annually on the State of the State of Vermont. She/he also prepares a State budget and grants pardons and paroles. The Governor is Commander-in-Chief of the State's military and serves as member of many boards and commissions. She/he has many ceremonial, business, and social appointments.

Lieutenant Governor

The Lieutenant Governor is the second ranking officer of the Executive branch. She/he is President of the Senate, provides the tie-breaking vote if needed, and when the Governor is absent from the State, performs his/her duties. In the event of the death of the Governor, the Lt. Governor will execute the office of Governor for the balance of the two year term.

State Treasurer

The State Treasurer is the State's banker and chief investment officer, accounting for the receipt and disbursement of public funds, short and long-term debt management, investment of state funds, administration of three retirement systems and pension funds, collecting and returning unclaimed financial property to rightful owners, improving the financial literacy of Vermonters, and advising state policymakers on various fiscal and policy issues.

Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is charged with the custody and preservation of the State archives, and is chief recording officer. She/he oversees registration of partnerships and business names, State election laws, lobbyist disclosure laws, trademark laws, and other record- keeping functions. She/he administers the Office of Professional Regulation and oversees licensing, certification, registration, and disciplinary matters for over 40 professions. The Secretary of State is an important resource for Town and City Clerks.=

Auditor of Accounts

The Auditor of Accounts, elected biennially, conducts financial audits and performance reviews of every State department, institution, and agency.

Attorney General

The Attorney General, chief law enforcement officer in the state, is responsible for enforcing all of Vermont's laws. She/he also acts as legal counsel to all State agencies and the Legislature and may represent the state in all civil and criminal matters in which the state is a party or has an interest. Additionally, the Attorney General advises the elective and appointive state officers on questions of law relating to their official duties and can present opinions on legal matters.

State Senator

State Senators provide representation to their constituents by serving on committees, introducing and voting on laws, and serving other special functions such as electing members to the Vermont Supreme Court. The Senate has 12 standing committees; each Senator is assigned to work on two or three committees. State Senators are elected to two year terms. Each Senator represents at least 20,300 citizens in a district.

State Representative

State Representatives serve a two year term. She/he must be a resident of Vermont for at least two years immediately prior to election, the second year of which must be in the legislative district from which she/he is seeking election. Each Representative is assigned to one standing committee (there are 15) through which bills and resolutions are drafted and voted upon. All revenue bills originate in the House of Representatives.

Probate Judge

Probate judges, elected to four-year terms, handle probate of wills, settlement of estates, adoptions, guardianships, name changes, and uniform gifts to minors. She/he are not required to be lawyers.

Assistant Judge

The Assistant Judge is a vital component of the court. She/he sits as finders of fact in Civil and Family Court, alongside of the presiding Superior Court judge, hence the name, ‘Side Judge.” Once fully trained and certified, she/he may serve as Acting Judge in Small Claims court and preside over uncontested divorces and traffic court. With help of the County Clerk, she/he oversee the County Courthouse budget, allocates county money to the Sheriff's Department, maintains related buildings and grounds, and handles County Courthouse administration. She/he is responsible for commissioning all Notaries Public in their respective counties. The role of Assistant Judge was established by the Vermont Constitution at the birth of the fourteenth state and continues to be an important link between the courts and communities in Vermont today.

State’s Attorney

The State’s Attorney represents Vermont in legal proceedings, serving as chief law enforcement officer of his or her county, circuit, or district. Duties, mandated by law, include charging and prosecuting crimes through informations or grand jury indictments. This involves conducting discovery, plea bargaining, and trial. She/he works closely with the State Attorney General.

Sheriff

Sheriffs are charged with preservation of peace and also serve legal documents. They are officers of the County Court transporting inmates to and from prison or jail to Court. Every county in Vermont has a Sheriff’s Department. Towns without police departments often contract with the Sheriff’s Department for law enforcement. Most sheriffs are certified law enforcement officers. They have a four-year term.

High Bailiff

The Bailiff's job is to provide protection for the court, especially the judge, jury, plaintiff and defendant. She/he will enforce the policies of the court and carry out orders of the judge, and provide physical restraint if needed. She/he will escort the jury when they move from place to place, swear in witnesses and keep peace in the courtroom.