Vermont to Send Ballots to All Voters, Governor Wants Policy Expanded

June 8, 2021 by Dan McCue
Vermont state House. (Wikipedia Commons)

MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont Gov. Phil Scott signed into law Monday a bill  making universally mailed ballots a permanent feature of the state’s general election. 

But Scott went a step further, calling on the General Assembly to extend the policy when it returns in January to all elections held in the state, no matter how local.

“I”m signing this bill because I believe making sure voting is easy and accessible, and increasing voter participation, is important,” Scott said.

“Having said that, we should not limit this expansion of access to general elections alone, which already have the highest voter turnout,” he said.

“For greater consistency and to expand access further, I am asking the General Assembly to extend the provisions of this bill to primary elections, local elections and school budget votes,” he said.

The bill Scott signed, S15, also allows voters to fix or “cure” a ballot if it has been deemed defective. 

State Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint said the impetus behind the bill was simple: “When we make voting more accessible, more people vote. When we make voting more accessible, democracy better reflects the will of the people. 

“Voting is one of the most sacred rights and responsibilities that we have,” she said. “From same day registration to early voting, our state has a strong track record of making it easier for people to vote. 

“I’m proud that this legislature is contributing to that legacy by making mail-in voting the rule for general elections from now on. We have to do all we can to ensure that all eligible voters can easily cast their votes and have equal participation in the work of our state and our nation.” 

House Speaker Jill Krowinski noted the passage of the bill and its being signed into law is a counter to the prevailing trend across the U.S. where state legislatures are curtailing voter access with more restrictive election laws. 

“The passage of our bill sends a clear signal that we believe our democracy is stronger when we make it more accessible,” she said.

Krowinski cited the Brennan Center for Justice, which has said as many as 361 bills with restrictive voting provisions have been introduced in 47 states. 

“The 2020 general election resulted in a 74% participation rate (from 68% in 2016), as well as a dramatic spike in early-voting to 75% (from 30% in 2016) and this bill creates the opportunity for strong voter turnout for years to come,” she said.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos struck a similar tone.

“While state legislatures across the country are using conspiracy theories and outright lies as justification for restricting the Constitutional rights of their citizens, Vermont is poised to become one of the most voter friendly states in the country with the passage of S.15,” he said.

“We should be proud of our brave state. While others are working to make it harder to vote, in Vermont we are working to remove barriers to the ballot box for all eligible voters, while strengthening the security and integrity of the voting process,” Condos continued.

“I want to thank the legislative leaders who worked hard on this critical legislation. … I also want to recognize Vermont’s hard working town and city clerks, who keep the front door open to democracy for Vermonters. Their input shaped this legislation, and their hard work ensures that Vermont elections are secure, accurate and accessible.”

“I firmly believe that our democracy is stronger when we all vote. Your vote is your voice, and S.15 will make using that voice even more accessible for all Vermonters,” Condos added.

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