Election law glitch needs fixing, Scott says

By Guy Page

Vermont’s new, universal vote-by-mail law contains a technical flaw “leaving the authority of the Secretary of State ambiguous as it relates to ballot returns,” Gov. Phil Scott said in a July 2 letter to the Legislature made public that same day.

In the letter, Gov. Phil Scott announced he will allow S.348, the universal vote-by-mail general election bill, to pass into law without his signature. He urged the Legislature to fix the problem when it reconvenes August 25.

Guy Page

Specifically, Scott said the bill contains a “cross-reference to a section of the bill that does not exist, leaving the authority of the Secretary of State ambiguous as it relates to ballot returns.” Furthermore the House Government Operations Committee [chaired by Rep. Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford] failed to fix the problem when warned by the Legislative Council, Gov. Scott said.

Vermont Daily has reached out to the Secretary of State’s Office for comment. Today is a state holiday so an immediate response is not expected. But it will be printed when received.

Scott’s letter reads as follows:

Today, S. 348, an act relating to temporary elections procedures in the year 2020 will go into law without my signature due to a technical flaw. There appears to be a cross-reference to a section of the bill that does not exist, leaving the authority of the Secretary of State ambiguous as it relates to ballot returns.

It is my understanding that Legislative Council explained this mistake to the House Government Operations Committee and recommended clean–up, but there was a decision made to enact this legislation rather than taking the time to rectify. This is particularly concerning in light of the concerns expressed by many regarding the return process for ballots mailed to all Vermonters.

I have said publicly if the General Assembly decided to remove me from this proces, I would not stand in the way. For these reasons, I am letting S.348 become law without my signature and I hope the General Assembly will correct the bill’s flaws and ensure full and adequate oversight of the mail–in ballot program it has created upon return in August.

In related news, John des Groseilliers, of Hardwick, reported receiving a ballot addressed to a complete stranger at his post office box.

“I just returned from the Post Office with our request for early absentee voter ballot,” the U.S. Army veteran, civic leader, and and longtime funeral home director said. “Interestingly along with my wife Rosalie and mine was someone else with the same exact address as ours. Am I concerned? Most certainly.”

Receiving a mailed ballot meant for someone else does raise questions, such as what is the recipient supposed to do with it. Also, how will the town clerk and secretary of state know how many of the mailed ballots are dead letters?

Questions like these have been raised by town clerks ever universal vote-by-mail was set forth as a safer alternative during a pandemic.

‘Liberty and justice for all’ mural update

Gubernatorial candidate John Klar’s application to paint “Liberty and Justice for All” on State Street in Montpelier, next to the Black Lives Matter street mural, is scheduled to be discussed at the July 8 Montpelier City Council meeting. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and can be viewed on Zoom.

An application to paint the mural was submitted June 29, and denied for lack of time to process in time for the desired July 3 painting date. Klar, who had hoped to have the mural ready by July 4 and a scheduled 10-noon GOP rally on the State House lawn, promptly resubmitted the application for the next scheduled council meeting, July 8.

The BLM mural request was approved unanimously at a Friday, June 12 special meeting of the City Council. Volunteers painted the lengthy street mural the next day. “It’s a quick turnaround here, but with any organizing campaign, you’ve got to feed off the momentum,” City Councilor Conor Casey said during the special meeting.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Flickr/Robert Stinnett

10 thoughts on “Election law glitch needs fixing, Scott says

  1. Gov. Scott decided to walk from S348. I can’t imagine mail in voting without a law against ballot harvesting. Of course the Dems deep-sixed that earlier. Without that protection as a minimum, the Governor should have vetoed the A.348. Thank you Gov. Scott says the Dems.

  2. Again this just shows that Governor Scott is a ” follower ” not a leader,
    pretty pathetic.

    We elected a man into the highest office in the state to lead the state
    from its debt, over taxation, weak employment even before the Wuhan
    virus struck, what does the Governor do ” cowers ” to the progressive
    democrats agenda

    What does VT have, a Governor with no “cojones ” !!

  3. This would almost be entertaining if the issue at hand wasn’t so serious !

    Phil Scott should have vetoed the legislation if only to force the General Assembly to fix the error that makes the intended “vote by mail” scheme inoperable. The is much more than “a reference to a nonexistent subsection” that makes S.348 and the underlying Act 92 inoperable. Had Scott vetoed the bill, he would have put them on notice to amend the legislation to fix the error OR override the fatally flawed bill and let the whole hot mess wind up in court !

    • Why has no one mentioned that the “mailing” of ballots for the Nov. Gen Election is being outsourced to an out of state company? Since when are our Town Clerks unable to handle an election? They are elected, some appointed, OATH Sworn to follow protocols by statute and have historically handled all elections? S.348 clearly states that the mailing of ballots will be done by Town Clerks! Sec of State states that is just a “suggestion!” Wow – what’s wrong with this picture among all the other concerns mentioned here? Nothing excuses this deviation from historic protocol by statute – NOTHING!

  4. Benedict Scott a complete and utter disgrace…time in office – epic fail.

    Simply unfit for office of any kind…now know why Republican support was so lukewarm prior to run for gov.

    A beaming egomaniacal dummy who should be shcanned and returned to playing with his trucks as its pretty clear he doesn’t know what he’s doing…wondering if afflicted with early dementia…the man is not up to the job and frighteningly incapable.

  5. Hey, Gov, if you found a significant flaw in S 348 which the legislators refused to correct, why oh why did you not do your duty and VETO it???? If it gets over ridden, so be it, you did your job.

  6. Governor Scott: quote “I have said publicly if the General Assembly decided to remove me from this proces, I would not stand in the way. For these reasons, I am letting S.348 become law without my signature and I hope the General Assembly will correct the bill’s flaws and ensure full and adequate oversight of the mail–in ballot program it has created upon return in August.”

    Governor, do you know how insane that sounds? The Democrats chose not to do it when warned. What makes you think your “hope” will change anything? You could have gained respect but vetoing the scheme that will cost you and so many other Republicans votes due to voter fraud. Even if over-ridden, it would show you are really about something.

    You did the same thing with the marijuana bill you signed. You said one of your primary goals was to protect the “most vulnerable” but then, in disregard of that, signed that dangerous bill that will injure the minds of our youth, because you said publicly you would sign it.

    Are you not aware of how stupid that sounds and how weak that makes you out to be? A real leader would be willing to do what is right over what he said publicly when realizing it is the wrong way to go.

    Too late again, governor! What a disappointment you are! You have allowed a bill that undermines the integrity of our voting system to become law when all along you knew it was flawed. Really, governor, what are you thinking?

    • The Dem/Progs are delighted to have a flawed law.
      More wiggle room.
      Why is Scott acting like an easy go lucky PATSIE?

      Scott thinks CONDOS is the expert.

      Condos will mail blank ballots to all registered voters, including those in nursing homes.
      The old people likely will be visited by nurses to help fill out the ballots

      On this side are all the evil Trump people.
      On that side are the nice Dem/Progs who make sure our nursing home gets the subsidies we deserve.

      The nurses sort the ballots.

      As pre-arranged, a VPIRG person shows up to pick up the ballots.

      Any Trump ballots likely will be misplaced, the others are mailed to Town Clerks.

      By the time all this, and much more, comes to the surface, the “elections” will be over and done with.


      Sending out postcards to all registered voters, as suggested by some Town Clerks and Sen. Benning, is a great idea.
      The cards would advise/remind voters to REQUEST a regular absentee ballot, in case they are afraid to vote in NOVEMBER, MORE THAN FIVE MONTHS, (JUNE, JULY, AUGUST, SEPTEMBER, OCTOBER), IN THE FUTURE!!!

      All Town Clerks already are highly familiar with the absentee ballot process.
      There would be: No learning curve; No excuses; No fuss; No muss.

      INDISCRIMINATE mail-in voting has been on the Dem/Prog agenda for years.
      Here comes along a golden opportunity to get it: THE OVERBLOWN VIRUS SCARE

      NOTE: TSA and all airlines require a photo ID before they check you in, and before they are allow on board.
      Voting is far more important than taking an airline trip.

      Requiring recent photo IDs, etc., is not voter suppression. It is called PRUDENCE.
      The PAPER TRAIL is not just the ballot, but also the copies of valid/up-to-date documents on file at Town Clerk’s offices, such as:

      1) A photo ID, and
      2) A copy of Citizen Papers (which likely has an old photograph), and
      3) A copy of a Birth Certificate.

      IF IN-PERSON VOTING, RECENT PHOTO ID, AND PROOF OF RESIDENCE (such as a property/school tax bill/driver’s license/Post Office address), MUST BE PRESENTED BEFORE VOTING

  7. I’ll be interested to see if there is a “quick turnaround” for Mr. Klar’s request….

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