Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz presented the 2010 Democracy Awards to seven Vermont citizens and organizations at a ceremony at the Vermont Statehouse on December 21.‘These awards honor people who have promoted the tenets of democracy in Vermont. Each of this year’s recipients is a shining example of leadership in the democratic process,’ says Markowitz.The National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award will be presented to Frank Bryan, University of Vermont professor and author; the Burlington Free Press; and John Cushing, Milton Town Clerk/Treasurer.Receiving the Vermont Secretary of State’s Enduring Democracy Award are student interns Ellie Beckett, Katie Levasseur, and Courtney Mattison who helped usher through Proposition 5; and Susan Clark, Middlesex town moderator and author.The Medallion Award was established by the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS) in 2001 to honor individuals, groups, or organizations with a record of promoting the goals of NASS in one or more of the following areas: improving elections, with special emphasis on voter education and increasing voter participation; civic education, including the teaching, promotion, and study of this subject; and service to state government–specifically, as it relates to improving democracy in the state.The Vermont Secretary of State Enduring Democracy Award honors individuals and organizations that have shown an outstanding commitment to promoting democracy in the Vermont.Frank Bryan, University of Vermont ‘ Frank Bryan is considered an expert on Vermont politics, in particular Vermont’s town meeting tradition. He has authored several books and publications, including the 2005 ‘All Those in Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community.’ Over the years he has been a vocal champion of Vermont local government and the town meeting tradition. In 2007 his testimony was instrumental in passing Act 124, making town meeting a holiday in Vermont.Burlington Free Press – The newspaper is being honored for its extraordinary, bipartisan, in-depth coverage of Vermont’s election. In addition to its regular election coverage, the Burlington Free Press posed questions to the candidates and published candidate responses on its front page and on its opinion page almost daily for months leading up to the election. In addition, the newspaper hosted multiple live web debates and sponsored a political blog that kept Vermonters informed and engaged in the election process.John Cushing ‘ John Cushing has served as the Milton town clerk/treasurer for over 40 years! He is recognized as a leader among his peers and served as the president of the Vermont Municipal Clerks and Treasurers Association and on the secretary of state’s town clerk advisory committee. Over the years he has been instrumental in getting key legislation passed relating to the administration of elections in Vermont.Ellie Beckett, Katie Levasseur, and Courtney Mattison – While interning in the Vermont State House, these three students proposed a constitutional amendment that would permit 17-year-olds who will be 18 by the time of the general election to vote in the primary election. They put this forward to Senator Jeanette White and testified on the merits of the amendment (which became known as Proposition 5) before several legislative committees. The amendment passed out of two legislatures and Proposition 5 was approved by the citizens of Vermont in the 2010 general election.Susan Clark ‘ Susan Clark is being recognized for her commitment to enhancing Vermont’s local democracy. Not only did she coauthor of “All Those In Favor: Rediscovering the Secrets of Town Meeting and Community,” but she has been an ardent advocate of town meeting. Through her efforts we now permit towns to adopt a representative town meeting and individuals have the right to take town meeting day off from work. Not only has she contributed to enhancing democracy for the state of Vermont as a whole but she has contributed greatly to her own town, spearheading efforts to energize citizen participation and serving as the town moderator.Visit www.sec.state.vt.us(link is external) for more information about programs offered by the Secretary of State’s Office.