No one should have to choose between staying safe and exercising their right to vote.
But we’re heading toward an election in the middle of a pandemic. Early voting for Vermont’s August primary begins in late June. And there is no way of knowing what the COVID-19 threat will be for the rest of 2020.
It’s critical that we act now to protect the safety of voters and poll workers, and the security of the election itself.
VPIRG and our allies therefore strongly support the following measures:
1. Mailing every voter a ballot
Thousands of voters in Vermont have been casting their absentee ballots from home for years without difficulty. So, the idea of voting from home is not new here. But now, in order to keep voters safe, we need to maximize the process. Every eligible voter in Vermont should automatically receive a ballot before upcoming elections so they can vote-by-mail.
2. Making safe, in-person voting available
While we should do all that we can to encourage Vermonters to vote-by-mail, it’s important that options remain available for safe, in-person voting as well. This is particularly important for people with disabilities, younger voters, people of color, those who may have unstable housing, and new Americans.
3. Expanding voter education and outreach
Our goal should be to maximize successful voter participation while making all voters and election workers feel safe. Since voting by mail will be a new experience for at least 70 percent of Vermont voters, it’s critically important for state officials to work collaboratively on public education and outreach efforts with partners on the ground in communities around the state.
Thanks to a law passed in the early days of the COVID-19 crisis, Vermont’s Secretary of State and Governor have the power to enact a vote-by-mail system this year without additional legislation. Vermont’s Secretary of State has already outlined a plan to mail every Vermont voter a ballot this November and we are optimistic that, with a pressure from numerous prominent Vermont businesses and organizations, as well as the general public, the Governor will approve those plans.
Once that decision is announced, the hard work begins. To ensure that no Vermonter gets left behind in the transition to a vote-by-mail system, we are committed to leading a massive public education and outreach campaign.
Are you ready to be part of the movement?
Vote-By-Mail Myths, Busted:
Despite what you may have heard from the president, claims of fraud associated with voting by mail are rare.
Five states have already successfully adopted vote-by-mail systems that have proven effective. In fact, states with some of the highest voter participation, especially in typically low-turnout primary contests, tend to be vote-by-mail states.
In addition, there is plenty of analysis shows that no political party is exclusively benefited by vote-by-mail. This despite the fact that President Trump admitted on Fox News his fear that “if you ever agreed to it [mail-in voting] you’d never have a Republican elected in this country again.” It’s just not true.
But it is clear who would benefit from a vote-by-mail system in this pandemic: Vermont voters and poll workers.
Make Sure You’re Ready to Vote in 2020:
No matter what decision is made about how elections will be administered in Vermont in 2020, it is critical that your voter registration and mailing address are up to date.
The My Voter Page on the Vermont Secretary of State website can be used to:
- Check your voter registration status
- Update your voter registration
- Request absentee ballots
- Check on your absentee ballot status
- Find your polling place location, view a sample ballot, look up who your elected officials are, and more!
News & Updates
No voter in Vermont should have to choose between staying safe and exercising their right to vote this year. But there is no question that during this pandemic, in-person voting can be dangerous for voters and poll workers alike. This is especially true for the November general election, when voter participation rates are expected to be ...Read More
Last week VPIRG and a coalition of allies sent the following letter to Governor Phil Scott and Secretary of State Jim Condos calling on them to immediately institute a vote-by-mail system in Vermont. The letter was accompanied by a petition signed by just over 1,180 Vermonters in support of this policy. This comes at a critical ...Read More
The Vermont Senate voted today to adopt a number of temporary emergency reforms to facilitate the functions of government and democracy during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include changes to Vermont’s open meetings law and to elections, which could include a vote by mail process. The legislation (H.681) was negotiated during a series of teleconference meetings conducted ...Read More