H. Brooke Paige: Why Vermont should not implement an all-mail voting system

Editor’s note: This commentary is by H. Brooke Paige, of Washington. He is a candidate for secretary of state and attorney general.

In March, the Vermont Legislature was concerned with the dangers of the evolving coronavirus that experts said could sweep the state infecting tens of thousands of Vermonters and killing hundreds.

As a result of their concerns, the Legislature took several emergency actions to mitigate the spread of the virus, including the passage of Act 92 on March 30 which stated “It is the intent of the general assembly that, if the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic continues its expected spread in the state of Vermont, the citizens of Vermont should be able to protect their health, safety, and welfare while also continuing to exercise their right to participate in elections in order to maintain our democratic institutions. Accordingly, this act sets forth temporary election provisions in response to COVID-19.”

Act 92 stated that Vermont’s Secretary of State Jim Condos, “is authorized, in consultation and agreement with the governor, to order or permit, as applicable, appropriate elections procedures for the purpose of protecting the health, safety, and welfare of voters, elections workers, and candidates in carrying out elections, including the following: 1) requiring mail balloting by requiring town clerks to send ballots by mail to all registered voters; 2) creating early or mail ballot collection stations; 3) permitting municipal clerks to process and begin counting ballots in a 30-day window preceding the day of an election; 4) permitting drive-up, car window collection of ballots by election officials; 5) extending the time for municipal clerks to process and count ballots, and 6) extending voting hours on the day of an election.”

The legislation further states: “For any temporary elections’ procedure, the Secretary of State orders or permits under this section, the Secretary shall adopt any necessary corresponding procedures that ensure the public can monitor polling places and the counting of votes.”

Vermont’s Legislature included two safeguards in Act 92 when they gave Secretary Condos virtually unfettered control over the 2020 election process; it requires the following: 1) “consultation and agreement with the governor” over changes made to the election process and 2) if the Coronavirus continued to spread, the secretary would implement “mail balloting by requiring town clerks to send ballots by mail to all registered voters” vote by mail (VBM) mass-mailing consistent with existing election law – 17 V.S.A. § 2479, § 2531 and § 2532. Existing Vermont election laws and Act 92 assigns the responsibility for distributing early and absentee ballots to the town (and city) clerks since they are the officials most competent to identify those who are qualified to vote in their town and protect the voting process from mistake and fraud.

By June, Secretary of State Condos had become impatient with the governor, who desired to learn whether the expanded promotion of Vermont’s current early and absentee voting, as well as in-person voting in the primary election using enhanced protections, including masks, use, social distancing and frequent disinfection of environmental surfaces – would be sufficient to protect the community without interfering with voting. The secretary complained to the Legislature and they revised Act 92 through the passage of Act 135 which changed the governor’s role from “being consulted with and agreeing” to the election changes proposed to merely be consulted before changes were implemented – eliminating the governor’s responsibility to agree (or disagree) with the changes. By eliminating the previously required approval by the governor’s approval, the Legislature removed one of their two safeguards intended to protect the election process.

An important concern connected with the VBM mass-mailing of ballots is the increased opportunity for fraud relating to “vote harvesting” by partisan canvassers employed by political and advocacy groups to go door-to-door attempting to collect the ballots that have been sent out to every registered voter – often these canvassers offering to assist reluctant and unenthusiastic voters in filling out their ballots and whereby influencing the voter’s decision, a violation of 17 V.S.A. § 2017.

During the debate over Act 135, there was a substantial discussion over concerns about “vote harvesting” activities, if a Vote by Mail mass-mailing scheme were to be implemented. Concerns over “Vote Harvesting” were debated and voted on in an attempt to include language that would limit or prevent such activity.

The Legislature, dominated by Democrats and Progressives who believe “vote harvesting” improves their political fortunes, considered and rejected three amendments that would have restricted the collection of ballots by third parties: S.J. 682—684 (Vt. June 3, 2020) with H.J. 1160-61 (Vt. June 10, 2020) and H.J. 1181-84 (Vt. June 12, 2020). The secretary of state has not made any meaningful effort to mitigate the problem of “vote harvesting” on his own.

For years, Vermont’s voter checklists have been the subject of concern since they do not provide local election officials with meaningful information to confirm the identity of individuals who vote in the state’s elections. Vermont’s checklists do not contain information such as signature samples, voter’s date of birth, birthplace, mother’s maiden name, partial social security or driver’s license numbers – that would assist election officials to authenticate a voter’s identity. This becomes especially important when early and absentee ballots are returned by mail or are brought in to the town clerk by others such as vote harvesters.

Ideally, an effective voter ID system would eliminate this problem, however, Secretary of State Condos has vehemently opposed any attempt to create a voter ID plan for Vermont on the speculative and specious grounds that voter ID plans promote “voter suppression” with the implementation of the VBM mass-mailing scheme, the lack of voter ID becomes more problematic.

In recent weeks, Secretary Condos has announced that his office has hired an out-of-state mailing contractor to assemble, process, and send out the vote by mail mass-mail ballots to every voter whose name appears on the town checklists, except those who have had their registration challenged. This decision by Secretary Condos violates the explicit instructions from the Legislature in both Act 92 and 135 “requiring town clerks to send ballots by mail to all registered voters.” His unauthorized unilateral decision removes the second protection against mistake, error, and fraud contemplated by the Legislature.

The use of an outside contractor for mailing the early and absentee ballots from an out-of-state location increases the likelihood of ballots being lost or misdirected, having the incorrect ballots sent the voter (Vermont has over 275 different ballots unique to each district and town) as well as ballots being sent to deceased voters, forwarded to voters who have moved away or sending duplicate ballots to voters who have changed their names, through marriage or for other reasons, and both names remain on the voter checklist.

The current VBM mass-mailing scheme creates the “perfect storm” where the lack of security in the mass-mailing of ballots by other than the authorized local town clerks, the reliance on the troubled U.S. Postal System for delivery of ballots in both directions, the lack of a reliable way to authenticate the returned ballots and permitting “vote harvesters” to collect and return ballots all combine to create the worst possible conditions for errors, omission, and fraud that will overshadow the operation and results of the Election process.

Scott E. Gessler, the former the Colorado secretary of state who oversaw Colorado’s transition from in-person voting to a statewide vote-by-mail system testified in Vermont Federal District Court that “Vermont is not ready for an all-mail ballot system. It does not have signature verification to ensure election integrity, nor does it have curative procedures that would prevent inadvertent disenfranchisement resulting from voter mistakes. And Vermont does not have accurate mailing addresses for many voters.

Because of these problems, the state should not implement an all-mail voting system for the 2020 general election.

Image courtesy of Public domain

11 thoughts on “H. Brooke Paige: Why Vermont should not implement an all-mail voting system

  1. Great expose Mr. Paige – hopefully you get the job and VT can be done with this fraudster who serves only to to aid and abet the crimes of the Democrat Party. Anyone who needs to go on “Transparency Tours” is projecting – it’s the communist way – bs-ing the public by claiming to do what in actuality is exact opposite. VT is all about machine politics – Condos a mere apparatchik who serves the Marxists and disserves the good people of VT. SHAME

    • Mr. Paige faithfully lifts up and articulates a conservative standard where there is none – and upholds where there is one. VT is a better place with Mr. Paige behind the scenes work to hold offices to benefit the party and all of VT. But most of all keeping the conservative fire burning.
      — “When you can’t make them see the light, make them feel the heat.” ―Ronald Reagan

  2. Unfortunately, it makes little difference as to what system is used on election day as at the end of the day, the blues will far outnumber the reds.

  3. Its over people. The ballots will be in the mail next week. The court battle was lost and Condos gets his way. If someone wants to do some thing they may want to promote voting republican. The republican party has managed to once again fall short. They have less than a hundred on the ballots this election cycle. Which means that over 50 non republicans will get elected uncontested .Crying over spilled milk and RINOs on here day after day will not help this state. The novel that Brooke Page wrote and put on here is all true ,however the train has left the station. It is my hope that he and other concerned Vermonters will use their passion to help republicans get elected. Preach your message to the people in hopes of at least changing the super majority in Montpelier. We need to at least get back the 10 seats that we lost in 2018. Speak up for our party!

  4. H,Brooke Paige has a better grasp of why Vermont should not implement an all mail voting than The Sec. of State , Condos. I received three extra requests for absentee ballots. I also reported this to the Sec of States office and was told it was no big deal , just don’t send them in. I think it is terrible that over 6000 voters in Vermont lost their vote in the primary. I have no confidence that sending every registered voter a ballot will result in a fair election . There is too much opportunity for mistakes and voter fraud. Sec of State, Condos is wrong to force this on Vermont voters.

  5. My husband has been dead 16 yrs, and he got a ballot for the primary. Now I know for a fact he didn’t request one, he hasn’t register his truck or renewd his lic in 16 yrs.and I know for a FACT he’s now on the towns list. So tell me how in hell did he get on the list??? I even went to Montpelier to see Condo 3 times,. 2 times I know he was there but refused to meet with me. Told the person who was at a desk, that “if the coward dare to come put from under his desk I want to talk to him about how my dead husband got a ballot and I want to know why !!!
    This ballot idea is BS. There’s been people who have moved out of Vermont that also received ballots. Now tell me this isn’t clear fraud by the democRATS..TAKE BACK VERMONT NOW !!!

    • You don’t say!
      Condos a coward?
      Condos mailing ballots to DEAD people?
      Who have been DEAD for over 10 years?

      Condos does not give a damn, that is what I think.
      He only cares about doing services for the DemProg elites.

      They say universal mail-in.
      He klicken dem heels und sages Jawohl, and veto-proof majorities forever.
      They love him.
      Scott even calls him an expert.

      This is all about command and control, nothing else.
      If you can go out to stores to buy things, FOR MONTHS, you can go to a voting place to vote.

  6. Quoted from another of today’s articles: “well-established activist organizations appear ready to take to the streets if (in their opinion) the election is unfair” – It appears the Progressives are doing everything within their power to insure that the election will be unfair – patently and unquestionably unfair. Like ballot submission signature need not match voter registration signature. That, at minimum, ought to require confirmation by the voter. This promises, by Progressive design, to be one lunatic election. Lawyers are going to get rich off this one.

  7. Why Vermont should not implement an all-mail voting system, that’s easy
    because it can be manipulated and we all know that not everyone has high

    If you listen to Jim Condos the liberal puppet and we all know, he has his
    marching orders from the elite at the DNC, Condos states this boondoggle
    will go off with out a hitch, sure………..!!

    We need requested ballots for those that have an issue, be it a disability or
    serving our country overseas, just to mail out for every Tom, Dick & Harry
    sounds pretty sketchy, as it’s an unproven process, NO security or verification
    of the real person………….. So what could go wrong ??

    Idiots in charge, you voted these fools in, look what you got they don’t care about
    you, it’s all about beating Trump……. by hook or by crook !!

  8. last election i went north to south border to border 2 times and saw only trump signs not one hillary sign in the entire state
    hillary won…
    time to alter and abolish
    why vote in another lesser of evils its not going anywhere good letting government rob us blind and then use the money to do psychological war against us with ai writing the news and giving its opinion in every forum and silencing any other opinion

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