Absentee ballots show higher voter turnout

Michael Bielawski/TNR

Vermont is the only state out of the eight that mail ballots to all active voters that starts taking ballots 45 days before the election. The biggest concern for town officials is keeping up with the number of ballots coming in as 442,000 ballots were mailed out statewide.

By Ciara McEnenany | Community News Service

BARRE — Town officials across Washington County are anticipating higher voter turnout than previous elections this year — a trend attributed to wider use of mail-in absentee ballots.

Barre Town Clerk Tina Lunt said out of the more than 6,230 absentee ballots sent out for the General Election in November, just over 1,500 had come back to town officials as of Oct. 19. That’s at a higher rate than during the summer primaries, Lunt said.

“To compare, if you look at the primary, where they didn’t mail everybody’s ballots — you had to request them — only 1,023 came back,” she said. “So, you can tell that the voter turnout is already much higher.”

John Odum

John Odum, Montpelier city clerk

Montpelier City Clerk John Odum said he believes polling sites will see less foot traffic than in past elections.

“We have received 1,200 absentee ballots already,” Odum said. “So we might have a close to 4,000-person election this year. People in Montpelier generally appreciate the voting process.”

The apparent upward trend has been pegged to the increased usage of absentee ballots sent out by mail to all active Vermont voters.

“I think you have a strong majority of people in Vermont that embrace, and the numbers prove, vote by mail and early voting,” Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos said. “Vermont is considered one of the most voter-friendly states in the country.”

Vermont is the only state out of the eight that mail ballots to all active voters that starts taking ballots 45 days before the election. The biggest concern for town officials is keeping up with the number of ballots coming in as 442,000 ballots were mailed out statewide.

“We’re still learning the ropes in terms of how much traffic to expect, how to staff forward and how to manage our workflow,” Odum said. “It is still a work in progress.”

In East Montpelier, 25% of absentee ballots already have been received, Town Clerk Rosie Laquerre said. She said she’s seeing the mail-in system as an opportunity for residents to vote more easily.

“We have, as a town, had a higher voter turnout that way,” Laquerre said. “It’s also easier for those who are shut out, don’t have access or have mobility issues, to vote.”

Condos said he believes getting residents to vote is essential and early voting by mail has given Vermonters a better chance to do so.

“Vermont has a different approach, and we felt that it was important since it is a constitutional right to cast a ballot,” Condos said. “It’s key that we remove any and all obstructions to make it easier for people to be able to vote while we still protect the integrity of that election.”

The Community News Service is part of the Reporting and Documentary Storytelling Program at the University of Vermont.

Images courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR and John Odum
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6 thoughts on “Absentee ballots show higher voter turnout

  1. Remember: It is not who votes – it is who counts the votes. The Vermont selection ballot and process is merely a formality and an illusion to believe there is actually a choice.

  2. These publisher clearing house style ballots are being promoted by Vermont’s
    very own secretary of state, like this, is the best thing since sliced bread…… sure !!

    The only way to vote is in person with an ID or a ” requested ballot” every other
    process is just an avenue for fraud….. yes I said the ” F ” word, and if you don’t
    think people wouldn’t falsify a signature on a ballot envelope. I have a bridge for
    sale !!

    Wake up people, they’ll do anything to stay in power, and look what you got in 2020
    how’s that working for ya ……………………………….

  3. Of course the turnout is high..
    They are setting the table right now… for all the usual tricks.

    It’s getting to the point of looking like North Korea where they tell us that 100% of the people voted for Kim.. because he’s so loved- right? uh huh.
    We’re headed there..

  4. According to the Vermont Secretary of State – “The voter must sign the certificate on the outside of the envelope for the ballot to be valid.”

    This is, yet again, another false premise. Signing ‘the certificate on the outside of the envelope’ doesn’t validate anything except that someone (i.e., anyone) placed a signature on the envelope.

    When I asked my Town Clerk if I could come in to verify the signature listed with my voter registration file, to make sure I signed my mail-in ballot correctly, I was told the Town Clerk doesn’t have any signatures on file.

    Secretary of State Condos, and many election officials for that matter, are misrepresenting the ‘validity’ of our voting process. It’s not a matter of trusting that poll workers do the right thing. They can’t, even if they wanted to do so.

    • Next you’ll be asking who mailed out all the ballots, by state law it supposed to be the town clerks…..but I believe it was done by an out of state firm.

      This is a multiple year scam…..they know who didn’t return previously, just fill in the blank.

      Of course 2000 mules couldn’t possibly happen in Vermont…..

    • Vermont Town Clerks are not allowed to have any ID, signature, date of birth, etc., residence info on file in their offices.

      All they are allowed to have is affidavits that ask you various question to get registered as a voter

      THER IS NO SECRET BALLOT IN VERMONT

      If you put your name, and sign, and date the ballot envelope, anyone who opens the envelope can look at your ballot and quickly classify you as Dem, rep, Prog or independent and send that info to Condos, and his elves, who know what to do.

      442,000 ballots were mailed out?
      Were registered voter lists padded? You bet!!

      Vermont has only 625,000 inhabitants, including illegals, legal non citizens, etc.
      There are more than 100,000 less than 18 years old
      That is a hugely greater number than for the 2020 Presidential Election

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