According to a new poll released Tuesday, Vermont voters are overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the practice of mailing a ballot to every voter, a policy that was put in place by state leaders on a temporary basis last year.
The poll, conducted by the independent firm Lincoln Park Strategies on behalf of the nonprofit organizations RepresentUs and the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, found that 68 percent of Vermont voters want to keep vote by mail, while just 29 percent oppose it.
Vermont experienced record voter turnout in 2020 after each active registered voter was mailed a ballot at home. Approximately 75 percent of voters returned their ballots by mail or by depositing them in a local drop box.
Tens of thousands of Vermonters filled out their ballot from home for the first time in 2020 to keep themselves and others safe. The program worked so well that nearly 45,000 more Vermonters voted in the middle of a pandemic than had ever voted before. And now that they’ve seen how safe and convenient it is to have their ballot mailed to them, they ’re not interested in going back to a system that makes it more difficult to vote.
Legislators are apparently getting that message as well. The Senate’s Government Operations Committee voted 4-1 on Tuesday in favor of a bill to make universally mailed ballots a permanent feature of Vermont’s general elections. The bill (S.15) also allows voters to fix or “cure” a ballot if it has been deemed defective. A common defect is when a voter fails to sign the inner security envelope when returning a ballot.
The poll found 78 percent of voters favor allowing small mistakes to be cured so that otherwise-valid ballots can be counted. This curing provision was not available to voters last year when nearly 1,500 ballots were not counted due to defect.
“These data indicate very strong public support in Vermont for making permanent the system of voting utilized in last year’s general election, along with at least one key improvement,” said Stefan Hankin, President of Lincoln Park Strategies. “There is no question that a large majority of Vermont voters would like to continue to receive their ballots through the mail, and they believe that all voters should be given an opportunity to fix or ‘cure’ small mistakes so the ballots can be counted.”
Republican lawmakers across the country have proposed a wave of new restrictions on voting in recent weeks. But these anti-democratic reforms have little traction in Vermont. The poll found that 92 percent of Vermont voters believe that it is important to make voting as easy as possible.
Vermonters are largely united in the belief that we should make voting easier, not more difficult. We applaud Chairwoman Jeanette White (D-Windham) and the members of her Senate Government Operations committee who voted today to advance legislation that will make voting from home easier for all Vermonters.
The Lincoln Park Strategies survey of 500 Vermont voters who voted in 2020 was conducted Feb. 16 to 18, and has a margin of error of +/- 4.8% at the 95% confidence level.