Lawmaker admits that ballot harvesting is legal in Vermont

During a debate over mail-in voting Wednesday, the chair of the House Committee on Government Operations said Vermont law does not prohibit ballot harvesting, a controversial practice in which third parties collect and submit ballots on behalf of others during an election.

House lawmakers gave initial approval of S.348, a bill that grants Secretary of State Jim Condos unilateral decision-making authority to have absentee ballots sent to all registered voters in the state for the November general election. The bill, which already passed the Senate, requires a signature from the governor to become law.

As seen in the House’s video session, Rep. Felisha Leffler, R-Enosburg, and Sarah Copeland-Hanzas, D-Bradford, discussed the legality of ballot harvesting.

“Are political entities such as 501(c)4s or PACs or other hyper-political agenda groups allowed to, under current statute, pick up ballots?” Leffler asked.

Copeland-Hanzas, who chairs the Gov Ops committee, said the practice is allowed by law.

state of Vermont

Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, D-Bradford, on Wednesday said Vermont law allows voted ballots to be submitted by any means.

“Current law says that absentee ballots may be returned by any means to the town clerk’s office before the close of business on the day preceding the election,” she said.

The Secretary of State’s Office, Copeland-Hanzas added, is preparing to issue a directive to outline the proper way of returning ballots in the upcoming election, especially as it relates to involvement by organizations, neighbors and candidates.

“They are considering just these issues around whether organizations … whether a pastor, or whether a candidate themselves can return a number of ballots together. Under current law that is technically legal.”

According to the plan advanced by Condos, absentee ballots will be mailed to all registered voters on the statewide checklist for the general election, regardless of a request. The goal is to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. The primary election in August will not similarly attempt to minimize spread of the virus, but will operate by the standard practice of having Vermonters request ballots if they wish to vote by mail.

Rep. Heidi Scheuermann, R-Stowe, said Condos’ plan of sending ballots to all active voters is “exceptionally problematic.”

“I understand that current law allows now for us as candidates to retrieve ballots and collect them,” she said. “ … [But] right now, under current law and current practice, we don’t know as candidates whether or not an individual has requested a ballot. With this new change, everybody will receive a ballot.”

She expressed discomfort over the ability of third parties to take advantage of the situation.

“[There may be] candidates who have influence over others, who know now that they have ballots and could go and collect those,” she said. “I think … that perception of conflict is there.”

Rep. Mark Higley, R-Lowell, also expressed doubts to House members about expanded mail-in voting.

“I believe there is a real concern around mailing out every registered voter in the state of Vermont a ballot,” he said.

Higley said some estimates project there could be as many as 160,000 unused ballots if the measure becomes law. “[Who] knows where they could end up?” he said.

Town clerks have had a mixed response to the proposal, and many have stated they are against it.

“There will be probably 50 percent of those mailed ballots in the trash where anyone can do whatever they want with them,” said Rosemary Morse, the town clerk for Berlin. “And if someone wants to commit voter fraud, they will find a way to use them.”

After debate, the full House voted 106-31 to approve S.348. Scott has signaled that he does not object to lawmakers writing him out of the decision-making process.

The governor does not have the support of top Republican leadership, however.

Both Senate Minority Leader Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, and state GOP chair Deb Billado have expressed why they think expanding mail-in voting could be a bad idea.

Across the nation there is opposition to mail-in ballot expansions, including a legal challenge by Republicans against a similar effort in California, and in Nevada. The president has threatened to withhold money from states that go forward with universal vote-by-mail elections.

Michael Bielawski is a reporter for True North. Send him news tips at bielawski82@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter @TrueNorthMikeB.

Image courtesy of state of Vermont

26 thoughts on “Lawmaker admits that ballot harvesting is legal in Vermont

    • Really uncomfortable when a number of life time legislators say Trust Me!
      Will be interesting to see the accounting of yea’s and nay’s!

  1. 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 all deserve.
    A shaky hand, with arthritis, “signs” the ballot
    The nurses sort the ballots.

    Multiply this in various settings and one would have one hell-of-an-election!
    The Founders Fathers, many of them slave owners, might turn in their graves

    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.

    Never, ever, waste a good crisis.

    • Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas, D-Bradford, a poor Democrat/Prog stronghold, on Wednesday, reluctantly admitted Vermont law allows voted ballots to be submitted by any means.

      That means VPIRG, et al., is LEGALLY empowered to harvest all the ballots it wants to tip the scales to its side.

      Which basically means VPIRG, et al., have a license to steal an election.

      Of course, CONDOS sees no problem, likely has not even thought of it, while he is endlessly spouting he will be “universally mailing BLANK ballots to every Tom, Dick, and Harry on a voter list” and spouting the hilarious/specious mantra: FULL SPEED A HEAD to meet the deadline FIVE MONTHS AWAY, just in case there MIGHT BE A VIRUS SOMEWHERE LURKING

      In any case, he claims, “THERE WOULD BE NO FRAUD, EVER. TRUST ME”

      This election will lead to all sorts of MANDATES to change our behavior to save the world, fight climate change, whatever it takes to pass GWSA, etc., to provide massive subsidies to the RE businesses of the members to Energy Action Network, EAN, and Vermont Energy Investment Corporation, VEIC.

      Remember, these are the same people/outfits that ran the energy programs of the past 20 years that INCREASED Vermont’s CO2, after spending about $3 to $4 BILLION over 20 years.

      Now they want more money to double down to keep the good times rolling.

  2. Au Contraire. Ah yes once again another crime starring the usual suspects…the big bad Republicans are at fault you see – uh huh. Failed to put out the dumpster fire at the State House bc the Democrat Party failed to agree on the proffered amendmen(s). And whats new – blame the victim much. How about a link Neil to back your claims? Just how did the Rebublicans, er, “we” let this happen.

    If you’re going to scream bloody murder at least have the courtesey to explain what happened. Kindly give a blow by blow of how you would have have the Rs handle this please – because Imma not buying any of it. And please hold the Mr. Mackay sloganeering ‘when we fight they win’ lecture m’kay lol

  3. Guy Page has done a lot of work to get the opinions of Town Clerks regarding mail-in voting.
    Remember, many of them are good Dem/Progs
    If their party elite wants mail-in, they likely would not talk against it.

    There are about 480,000 registered voters in Vermont, and in the 2016 presidential election year, which had a high turnout, just 67% of registered voters cast ballots.

    That means the Condos, FULL SPEED AHEAD, mail-in scheme, would lead to about 160,000 unclaimed or unwanted ballots.

    Many of them would be just floating around, for any unscrupulous, self-serving actors, such as Dem/Prog-handmaiden VPIRG, to collect, fill out, and mail in.

    If that is not bad enough, just read this.

    Condos would not know if a fraud would occur, and neither would the Town Clerks.

    Condos can say, with a blank face, “fraud is very rare”, because only the most egregious fraud cases end up in court.

    In Vermont’s case, we are talking about SYSTEMIC fraud, which exists, because the system database is flawed from the get-go.

    Condos and Town Clerks know, as documented by Guy Page:

    1) The Vermont voter lists are riddled with names of people who left Vermont, or have died, according to interviewed Town Clerks
    2) There likely are great deficiencies regarding up-to-date photo IDs, copies of birth certificates, and copies of citizen papers
    3) Much of that documentation likely does not even exist in the Town Clerk files

    Condos, a Dem/Prog party fixture, acts as if he does not know, or as if it is not a problem.
    That my friends is a fraud, right there, because CONDOS DOES KNOW!

    Condos wants to INDISCRIMINATELY MASS mail ballots to EVERYONE on the voter lists, whether they want it or not, whether they want to vote to not, whether they belong on a list or not, whether they are properly documented or not.
    That my friends is a fraud, right there, because CONDOS IS A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP, EAGER TO PLEASE HIS HANDLERS

    Condos knows about these corrupted lists and the document deficiencies, as do the Town Clerks.

    He calls his mail-in scheme “universal”, as if calling it “universal” makes it A-OK; sort of like “universal” health care. It has a nice “ring” to it.

    All this is a highly deceptive/fraudulent charade. Few are asking the hard questions. Those who do, get drowned out.

    When will sane, REAL Vermonters finally sound off about this travesty and malfeasance?
    When will the RESPONSIBLE Vermont Media, defenders of the faith, wake up and show a conscience?

    SENDING OUT POSTCARDS

    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

    IF ABSENTEE VOTING, RETURNED BALLOT MUST BE SIGNED IN THE PRESENCE OF A PUBLIC NOTARY, AND NOTARIZED, TO ENSURE ITS VALIDITY

  4. Ballot harvesting is a gold mine for the Dem/Lib/Progs. They send their crew out into the market place, call on inocent unsuspecting voters to “assist” them in filling in the blank squares. Can’t help but wonder how many of these contain a vote for a Republican candidate. Then there are the ballots collected which are blank giving these folks another load of gold. The mail in concept is a license to commit fraud legally. Only in Montpelier. Time for a CHANGE!!!!!

    • Mike,
      There may be various forms of “dumpster diving” by unsavory groups, such as VPIRG, after mailing of the BLANK ballots.

      The diving would be in districts that would lean towards Republican, but by “legally” filling in the BLANK ballots, and sending them in, the scales would be tipped in favor of Dem/Progs.

      ONLY IN VERMONT?
      GLASNOST AND PERESTROIKA LONG OVERDUE?

      Condos and his “UNIVERSAL” mailing of ballots, acts like a DENNIS THE MENACE in a China shop.

      He likely has not thought through of what might happen, nor does he care, because he never mentions it.

      For him it is FULL SPEED AHEAD, to please his handlers.

  5. Hello, I am collecting ballots in this neighborhood and returning them to the town clerks office. I’m doing this to save YOU time and gas. The republican ballots go in this bag and the democrat ballots go in this bag. Trust me, they’ll all get there.

    • Al,
      You forgot to include the “legal”, but unethical, collectors/harvesters would be offering to help FILL OUT THE BALLOTS as well, especially in the nursing homes, etc.

  6. The Rinos are completely involved with this and vital for getting this passed!

    Why can I say this? “Republicans” responsible,for this? Because once again we, WE republicans did not offer an answer that stopped this non-sense. Right or wrong people are terrified of cOvid, they want to be safe at election time.

    WHAT DID WE OFFER????.?.?.

    While saying it was election fraud is correct, it gave us only two choices. Once again we have helped the NWO pimps win again, because we are too stupid and play into their framed conversation once again and we are owned. We republicans are completely to blame for allowing this to happen.

    All we had to do was frame the conversation, sure, we’ll double the number of voting booths, have a special section and time for elderly, sanitize after every vote, have sanitizer, etc etc.
    That
    But no……we totally fall for their game once again, Vt’s Republican rino’s and every other republican that didn’t offer a safe solution for the voters are complicit with orchestrating this election fraud. We are our own worst enemy, when are we going to stop taking the bait.

    When are we finally going to take control of the narrative, stop playing crappy defense and play offense so we can win for once, just once would be nice.

    • Breathtakingly astonished at the routine blaming of the reasonable and sensible Republicans how ever few or many there may be. Calling bs on all of it. A cirduitous route is taken to conceal truth bc you don’t want to call a spade a spade which is something that everyone with a brain knows – it’s a zero-sum game. None of your ideas are going to work bc Democrats are in the majority – hello.

      “WHAT DID WE OFFER????.?.?.”

      They – along w/rest of Dishonest Democrat Party are attempting to Nationalize elections and steal this one and all you have to offer is hand sanitizer and sections for elderly?

      So much easier to back down from the vitriolic Trump-deranged bullies by claiming they’re the real victims here.

      And just how does ‘framing conversation’ work in real time?

      Anyone terrified of Covid can ask for a ballot?

      What was the mysterious bait?

      “When are we finally going to take control of the narrative, stop playing crappy defense and play offense so we can win for once, just once would be nice.”

      In case you are truly unaware – tactically positioned playing offense against the Republicans which serves to run interference for your Democrat friends.

      • How’s our current plan working? They are running things like a DEMOCRACY, WE ARE A REPUBLIC. Saying majority wins would suggest we are a democracy too.

        When our country was literally closed for months, what would it hurt to offer sanitizer at a voting booth? Perhaps then we would be calling their bluff, because this was all about “safety” on why we had to do it.

        Vermont will be one of the first states to allow ballot harvesting, because we wouldn’t allow or provide sanitizer at the election polls…we I guess we won that one too. Phil Scott took the position of saying no too.

        I’m the bad guy, let me know how the current “correct” plan works out this year.

        We couldn’t do anything better, nothing, there is no need to change anything we are doing nothing don’t do ANYTHING different. We don’t need to message better. We don’t need to support each other better. We need to fight more, have more name calling! We are almost perfect. What the hell was I thinking?

        Of course we’re not going to get mail voting stuffed down our throats, of course we are going to take the majority in the Senate, in the House, and the Lt. Governor position too this year. My apologies, everything is absolutely perfect.

        Rinos and Pimps are the recipe for nirvana, Vermont is clearly political heaven. Another couple of years we’ll be Venezuela North, who’s fault will that be?

        If Joey played on a sports team and he got schooled, what’s the game plan for his next match up? Does he practice harder? Does study the game more? Does he look for their weakness? Does he eat better? Does he build better a team? Does he get a new trainer?

        Does he say he’s doing everything perfect and just go back for a rematch?

        • Oh, and mean while the other team has sent out millions of emails with millions more labeling those who don’t allow mail voting as people who have no regard for public safety. That’s exactly how they will win.

          And other states have mailing voting so we’re not doing anything unusual they will say.

          Sanitizer isn’t looking like a bad option to me, to each his own.

          • Phil Scott has a cOvid protocol for everybody and every thing on the planet, except for voting and protesting on his front lawn with 5,000 people, yes we have been played again.

            Time for us to control our own narrative and own destiny.

        • “How’s our current plan working? They are running things like a DEMOCRACY, WE ARE A REPUBLIC. Saying majority wins would suggest we are a democracy too.”
          – Continuing to blame Republican Party and other conservatives a false argument and defacto defense of Democrat party and other lefties. Majority ‘does’ win – its called an election sir – we don’t have a majority.

          – Doesn’t hurt to offer hand sanitizer but unless living under a rock – it’s everywhere and pretty sure it doesn’t need to be ‘offered’ but that’s not the issue here.

          “Vermont will be one of the first states to ‘allow’ ballot harvesting”
          – It’s been ‘allowed’ and already going on lol.
          – Straw-manning self by preemptively adopting ‘I’m the bad guy’ mantra to avoid the reality that there is no ‘correct’ way – accomplishes nothing?

          “We couldn’t do anything better, nothing, there is no need to change anything we are doing nothing don’t do ANYTHING different. We don’t need to message better. We don’t need to support each other better. We need to fight more, have more name calling! We are almost perfect. What the hell was I thinking?”
          – Howling at the moon much? look in the mirror sir – you call do names

          No on has said anything is perfect however there *is* a plan in place – Mr Klar has already taken the initiative to challenge Chairman Phil and there is a new slate of conservatives running on the Republican ticket.

          As far as uniting Democrat and Republican – how’s your GMP fusion experiment working out sir. Defense rests.

  7. Wow ! The democrats cannot be trusted when the voting process is running the way it should. Imagine what they will do with this so called ballot harvesting. It’s just like giving a fireman an award for bravery in battling a forest after finding out he started the fore. Sadly these folks cannot be trusted at all.

  8. Convenient.

    Think VPIRG knows how people vote from their address? Bet they do.

    More convenience, just pick up the ballots that support your cause.

    Don’t pick up a ballot that has any American flag, could be a republican.

  9. Thought the Dems were playing with a crooked deck, but I was wrong: they have ALL the cards, and we can only watch as they flush Vermont down the toilet.

  10. Governor Phil (Facilitator) Scott, unprincipled and hiding behind a manufactured crisis!

  11. Been going on for some time. I know of one legislator that took absentee ballots to nursing homes. Don’t know who to vote for? How about ME!

  12. Harvesting !! What a joke!! Go to a Nursing Home with a handful and make sure they vote Your way!! No wonder the Republicans are mad at this stupid idea!

  13. Why would anyone think that ” Mail-in ” voting would be a problem, especially
    when S.348, a bill that grants Secretary of State Jim Condos control !!

    And when you have ” Ballot Harvesting ” what could be dubious about all of
    this……… This scam will make Bernie Madoff proud.

    Wake up people, they don’t have your interest at heart, how do you win in the
    political arena, here’s two examples………

    By hook or by crook !!

  14. Once again Scott is showing his progressive allegiance and willing to sell out his party.. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a governor with courage?

  15. It surely should be against the law. That’s outright voter fraud which is what these liberals are all about..

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