Lawmakers push for electronic ballots for elections, limited for the sick and overseas for now

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THE NEW VOTING BOOTH?: Vermont lawmakers are looking to allow citizens — in limited scenarios — to submit their ballots electronically over the internet. Advocates says such activity would not constitute “online voting.”

A bill that passed in the House of Representatives early this month and sits in the Senate Committee on Government Operations would allow submission of electronic ballots over an online portal as a method to further expand voter access.

The proposed online voting found in H.429 would be limited in scope. However, Sen. Ruth Hardy, D-Addison, the chair of the committee, said lawmakers are hearing from constituents about the bill.

“I will say to everyone in the room and listening, I know this bill has gotten a lot of attention and we’re going to hear from many other people, we’re not going to pass it right now,” she said during a committee hearing last week. “Don’t worry, I’ve already heard from a lot of people who want to comment.”

Electronic ballots and electronic signatures

The bill’s text says electronic ballots would be distributed “by means of a secure online portal developed and maintained by the Secretary of State, directly to the clerk before the close of business on the last day the clerk’s office is open prior to the election.” It adds that ballots will be verified “with electronic signature on the certificate required pursuant to section 2542 of this title prior to submitting the ballot to the clerk.”

Tim Devlin, legal counsel for the Office of Legislative Counsel, told committee members that the electronic ballots would be “for voters who are ill, injured, or have other disability.”

Rep. Michael McCarthy, D-St. Albans, worked on the bill in the House Government Operations and Military Affairs Committee in the first part of the legislative session. He downplayed the concern that sending ballots electronically constitutes online voting, and emphasized that this will only be allowed for those who are either overseas or in other specific situations.

“I want to be very clear for folks in the public that this is not the same as online voting; this section of the bill that’s about electronic balloting,” he said. “I think that’s probably the section of the bill that had the most consensus on it in our committee. … So basically there are many people who can’t get their ballots back in time.”

The ‘sore loser’ rule

McCarthy also talked about other provisions in the bill, including what has been dubbed “the sore loser rule,” which is a provision to “prohibit losing primary candidates from running in the general election.” The bill states that “in no event shall a candidate who loses a major party primary be nominated to appear on the general election ballot.”

He suggested this practice of running multiple times in one election twists the process and creates unfair scenarios.

“I just think from a point of basic fairness, the idea that you run and say, ‘Well, I want to be this party’s nominee’ for the party and then you lose, you shouldn’t get kind of another bite of the apple,” McCarthy said.

Other provisions

Another provision in the bill includes that political parties must not take more than $100,000 in contributions from any candidates. Yet another sets a minimum requirement of votes that write-in candidates must receive to advance from a primary election. The language proposes that write-in candidates must receive at least “10 percent of the votes cast by a party plus one additional vote; or the same number of votes as the number of signatures required for his or her the candidate’s office on a primary petition.”

Election integrity in question

Vermont’s elections have become controversial due to the use of universal mail-in ballots. Nationally, confidence in election integrity has been slipping.

In May of 2022, Rasmussen conducted a poll to learn Americans’ views on election integrity. The poll found “that 55% of likely U.S. voters believe cheating likely affected the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, including 39% who think it’s Very Likely,” the report states. “Thirty-nine percent (39%) don’t think cheating affected the 2020 election, including 28% who say it’s Not At All Likely.”

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

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12 thoughts on “Lawmakers push for electronic ballots for elections, limited for the sick and overseas for now

  1. Seriously?

    I thought we already had the most “secure” elections?

    It needs to be more “secure”. Aka corrupt?

  2. Remember it is not who votes, it is who or “what” counts the votes. Ensuring the selection process remains intact is all that matters now. Anytime I hear anyone utter “your vote counts,” the Truth is only if it is marked according to the Masters, if not, the Masters will correct it accordingly.

  3. The sick, overseas.

    Being in Canada and Mexico, etc., does not qualify?

    Who in hades determines that.

    In Michigan, before mail-in ballots became Pelosi’s newest woke thing to win elections, almost no one was too sick to vote, but after mail-in, Michigan became a sicko state, with about 80,000 too sick to vote.

  4. Sounds like another way for more voting shenanigans, what could go wrong with this
    boondoggle…………. yeah !!

  5. From my perspective, I can’t help but assume that this really has to do with the reduction of cars, which is a United Nations Sustainability Goal. The powers that be have clearly stated that the number of cars in use will be greatly reduced to non-existent by 2030. If people can’t drive to the polling station to vote then they will need to vote electronically. These people reverse engineere all outcomes to make them sustainable. Although, they are never transparent about the ultimate end goal.

  6. Makes perfect sense. Everybody knows that voting on line is not the same as online voting. Duh!

  7. This topic of electronic voting needs to be exhaustively discussed in the community. Other than voting for office holders, this may be the mechanism to connect legislators with their constituents so they know when we’ve got a consensus on matters for possible legislation. Imagine if we had daily convenient electronic contact with Montpelier. Maybe we could convert them back into representatives of the constituents. They could see what we want…immediately. This default to RULING us just isn’t working out. They seem to be in an alternate reality most of the time.

  8. Brilliant! I am so impressed with our legislators and their critical thinking. Not only do they KNOW that putting a ballot in the mail is utterly secure, but they also know that voting via Internet is even more secure. This will synch up very nicely with the move to let non-residents vote. Now the Martians can vote for their favorite Vermont lackey.

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