The Vermont Senate voted 21-7 today in favor of S.348, granting full authority to the Secretary of State to determine whether to mail all registered voters a ballot for this year’s General Election in November. This legislation will make it possible to move forward with a universal vote-by-mail system in Vermont to make voting safe and secure amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier legislation passed in March granted joint authority to the Governor and Secretary of State, however, Gov. Scott made clear that he preferred not to be part of the process. Further, Gov. Scott was unwilling to approve a plan to move forward with vote-by-mail until after the August primary. Secretary of State Condos made clear that waiting until August to make the decision was untenable and would therefore fail to offer the greatest protections for voters and poll workers.
S.348 must win final approval in the Senate before being considered in the House of Representatives.
“Today’s vote in favor of safe and secure voting should have been unanimous. This bill will clear the way for tens of thousands more Vermonters to vote safely from home than have ever done so before. It will not only protect those voters, but it will minimize the risk for our volunteer poll workers and other elections officials too,” said VPIRG Executive Director Paul Burns. “Today, twenty-one senators supported a bill that will make voting easier and safer in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century. Each one deserves our thanks and praise.Meanwhile our president continues to sow doubt and fear about voting-by-mail, even though he votes remotely himself. It is a shame that this tactic of spreading false fears over fraud has found any traction at all in Vermont. Thankfully, it wasn’t enough to stop this good bill.”