Mail-in ballots heading to Vermonters this week

Election workers sort through mail-in and absentee ballots at the polling place at Montpelier City Hall during the 2020 election. File photo by Glenn Russell/VTDigger

Roughly 440,000 mail-in ballots are being sent to voters this week, according to Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos.

Mail-in ballots provide an “additional option” for voting which has “been used successfully in states around the country — red and blue states,” Condos said.

All active registered voters will automatically receive a ballot by mail for this year’s general election.

This is the first election in which universal mail-in voting is a permanent feature of Vermont voting. 

The practice of sending mail-in ballots to all active registered voters was first allowed in Vermont in 2020 to help reduce the spread of Covid-19. Gov. Phil Scott subsequently signed a universal mail-in voting law for general elections, Act 60, in June 2021

Vermont has about 500,000 registered voters, including 440,000 “active” registered voters, according to Condos. Inactive voters have been challenged by a municipality’s Board of Civil Authority, according to state statute.

Due to the new mail-in voting law, Vermont is now ranked as the third easiest place to vote in the country, according to the 2022 edition of the Cost of Voting Index, compiled by a trio of researchers for the Election Law Journal. In 2020, Vermont ranked 23rd.

Voters should expect to receive their ballots for the Nov. 8 general election no later than Oct. 10, Condos said. If voters don’t receive their ballots, they should contact their town or city clerk.

Residents who have not yet registered to vote can still do so and expect to receive a mailed ballot. 

“If they (voters) get down to the last 10 days before the election, you should probably make arrangements to go into your town clerk's office to get a ballot, if you want an early vote, or show up at the polls on Election Day,” Condos said.

Vermont has same-day voter registration.

Condos said that he doesn’t expect any delays in sending mail-in ballots because staff at the United States Postal Service have assured him that election mail will be treated as high priority.

“Your vote is your voice, and it's important that everybody has an opportunity to cast the ballot. It's your constitutional right. And we anticipate that we will have a strong election in November,” Condos said.

Clarification: An earlier version of this story was unclear on the types of voters who would receive mail-in ballots.

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Juliet Schulman-Hall

About Juliet

Juliet Schulman-Hall recently graduated from Smith College, majoring in English, minoring in sociology and concentrating in poetry. Most recently, she has worked for MassLive covering abortion and the environment, among other topics. Prior to that, she worked for Ms. Magazine and has done freelance work for PBS's Next Avenue and Arkansas Nonprofit News Network.

Email: jschulman-hall@vtdigger.org

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