Lawmakers express skepticism over vote-by-mail proposal in Vermont

As Vermont’s secretary of state and governor continue to discuss a proposal for expanded mail-in voting this election season, some lawmakers and citizens are worried that widespread use of a mail-in system could lead to voter fraud.

The proposal coming from the Secretary of State’s Office is to mail ballots to all registered Vermont voters for the November general election. During previous elections, mail-in ballots have been sent by request only.

The proposal is controversial because a mail-in system lacks the safeguards of in-person voting, and has been linked to ballot-harvesting scandals, including the 2018 congressional race in North Carolina that was overturned by that state’s election board.

U.S. Department of State

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott

At a media briefing last week, Republican Gov. Phil Scott expressed concerns about expanding vote-by-mail.

“At this point in time, I’m there and I have concerns,” he said.

Election watchers have documented a broad range of problems related to voting by mail. According to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, more than 6 million mail-in ballots went missing in the 2016 election.

“According to the commission’s 2016 report, for example, more mail ballots were misdirected and unaccounted for than the margin of votes between Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump,” the Heritage Foundation reported. “She had 2.9 million more votes, yet 6.5 million ballots were misdirected or unaccounted for by the states. In other words, for every vote that Hillary won over the eventual president nationally, more than twice as many mail ballots disappeared or went to the wrong addresses.”

State Rep. Marianna Gamache, R-Swanton, in a recent post on Facebook shared doubts about the need for widespread mail-in voting: “We stand in line at Target, Walmart, Lowes, etc. We can stand in line in November. Say no to mail-in voting. Make this go viral.”

Rep. James Harrison, R-Chittenden, and Sen. Brian Collamore, R-Rutland, also expressed skepticism about expanding vote-by-mail options.

On Tuesday, Harrison told True North that with normal absentee ballot use, the user issues the request to the town clerk for a ballot and there is a clear expectation of whom the ballot comes back from. In contrast, mailing a ballot to every name on the state checklist means many ballots could be lost, disqualified or even stolen.

“When you do all mail-in balloting for everyone, you do not know who’s gonna get back to you,” Harrison said. ” … You don’t necessarily have the ability to compare all the signatures.”

He added it’s not best to make a big policy decision now since the status of the coronavirus is changing daily and there’s little certainty of how things will look in the fall.

One concerned citizen tweeted to Condos that mail-in elections are a bad idea because the voter checklist is “not accurate.”

Moreover, in a recent poll of registered voters in Vermont, more than half said election officials can’t verify who is filling out absentee ballots.

Condos nevertheless favors sending ballots to all registered voters as a way to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Compounding the complications for a vote-by-mail system, the United States Postal Service is facing extreme financial hardships and may run out of funds as soon as this summer. Condos has worried about the impact this could have on the election, saying, “I can’t understate how disastrous this could be to our democracy.”

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

Images courtesy of Flickr/Robert Stinnett and U.S. Department of State
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6 thoughts on “Lawmakers express skepticism over vote-by-mail proposal in Vermont

  1. Folks should be concerned about the mail in vote issue. There are far too many instances of ballot harvesting and fraudulent ballots with counterfeit signatures. I go back to voter ID. Long overdue.

  2. Dem/Progs never let a good crisis go to waste.
    They want the virus-scare to last to November ELECTION DAY.
    Play it to the hill, with the hand-maiden Media helping out.
    Get rid of Trump
    Get rid of Scott.
    Get rid of anybody standing in the way of more socialism, more state control and more state power

    Mail-in voting is part of the Dem/Prog national platform, says Pelosi from Caliphonya.

    Condos, Head of Elections, has been traveling all over the state, making scare-mongering speeches, and agitating for mail-in ballots;
    “We have got to do this, and that, and do it NOW.”

    Holcombe, Zuckerman, VPIRG, and assorted Dem/Progs, chiming in for mail-in as well.
    In fact, not a single Dem/Prog legislator dares state an opposite view, for fear of being ostracized by the party elite.
    All HAVE to chime in, to make it appear there is an unstoppable ground-swell for mail-in, and later, more socialism

    Dem/Progs, profess to be oh-so concerned about your health and safety.
    Hidden agenda: They are even more concerned to get more votes for more veto power and control
    Condos has had a free rein NOT to use common sense.

    Here is some real-world common sense:

    If people have been going to grocery stores ALL OVER THE STATE (even in Burlington), in MARCH, APRIL and MAY, they can physically show up to IDENTIFY THEMSELVES, and then vote in NOVEMBER.

    That TRADITIONAL approach would lead to MINIMAL FRAUD AND MAXIMAL TRUST.

    If China could build TWO 1000-bed hospitals in 2 weeks, Condos should have plenty of time to set up infrastructures and print ballots for a PARTIAL MAIL-IN vote in NOVEMBER, IF NECESSARY.

    If the virus episode has not subsided by November, FREE MASKS SHOULD BE AVAILABLE AT THE POLLING STATIONS.

    Only authorized/official people should hand them out.

    Condos should stop the fake handwringing and prevaricating and the scare-mongering.
    There is no way Vermonters would agree to mass-mailing of ballots to every Tom, Dick, and Harry.
    Vermonters do not give a hoot that mail-in voting is practiced elsewhere.
    Vermonters LOVE to go to the voting booths.

  3. Condos is a idiot. Voting should be in person and show a ID. When I vote I always show my drivers Lic. the woman says you don’t need to show a ID we know who you are. I looked at her and said well I don’t know you!! My husband name was still on the list after he was dead for 5 yrs. I made sure his name was taken off. Voting in person with a picture ID is the correct way. Voter fraud is too easy yes even here in Vt.

  4. Please don’t change voting practices! Voter fraud will be out of control. Stand up for fairness and integrity please!

  5. Voting by mail, now what could possibly go wrong with this scenario,
    I assume there would be no voter fraud !!

    Yeah, if liberals are thinking this is a good idea, then we know we will
    have issues even the dead will get to vote as long as they are on a
    voter list….

    • Not a thing goes wrong for the Left, especially if the dead arise and cast their votes for the DEMOcrats, to the Left it’s all about the voter fraud they plan to get away with.

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