With just three weeks to go before polls open for the primary election, tens of thousands of Vermonters have already begun the process of early voting.
According to Eric Covey, chief of staff for the Vermont Secretary of State’s office, nearly 41,000 ballots had been requested across Vermont as of Monday afternoon. About 11,600 have already been returned.
The most recent statewide primary in 2020 saw 169,932 total votes cast. In 2018, the most recent year that did not include a presidential election, 107,637 Vermonters voted in the primary.
Covey said many Vermonters appreciate the opportunity to cast their ballots by mail or by dropping them at their town clerks’ office in the weeks leading up to the Aug. 9 primary.
“As we have worked to continue to expand access to voting, including early voting for Vermont voters, we hear excitement from Vermonters,” Covey said.
Early voting officially began June 24 and continues until Aug. 8, the day before the primary. (Completed early ballots can also be dropped off in person during voting hours on Aug. 9, but they must be brought to a polling place rather than to a town clerk’s office.)
While early ballots have been widely available to Vermont voters since the 1990s, voting by mail took on greater significance in the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic, when bringing masses of voters and polling staff together at the polls posed unprecedented health and safety risks.
In the 2020 primary, 123,301 votes — about 73% of the total — were cast using mail-in ballots. In 2018, the last pre-pandemic primary, 17,128 people voted by mail.
Lawmakers last year made universal mail-in voting a permanent feature of Vermont’s general elections — but not for primaries or local contests.
Unlike in the November general election, Vermonters need to request a mail-in ballot for the upcoming August primary. Voters can do so online through the Secretary of State's website, by mail, or in-person at their town clerk’s office.
VTDigger’s 2022 Election Guide includes a comprehensive guide to voter registration, early voting and in-person voting.
NEW: The page now includes a printable PDF flyer with essential information for voters, as well as printable voter guides in 13 additional languages.
Missing out on the latest scoop? Sign up for Final Reading for a rundown on the day's news in the Legislature.