More town clerks sound alarm on expanded vote-by-mail

More town clerks are expressing concerns about a proposal to mail ballots to every registered active voter on the state’s checklist.

The General Assembly passed a bill earlier this month that would take the governor out of the decision to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters, clearing the way for a universal vote-by-mail system this fall.

Secretary of State Jim Condos devised the plan allegedly to help minimize the spread of the coronavirus for the general election, even though the August primary election will be conducted in person.

On Wednesday, Gov. Phil Scott said he expects to sign the bill if it reads “as planned.”

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VOTE BY MAIL UNDER SCRUTINY: While many town clerks endorse the idea of expanding vote-by-mail, many do not, for a variety of security-related reasons.

But some town clerks say a universal vote-by-mail system in Vermont is a bad idea. Will Senning, director of elections and campaign finance for the Vermont’s Secretary of State’s Office, told the Senate Committee on Government Operations in May that town clerks have had mixed feelings about switching to a universal vote-by-mail system.

Dawn Dwyer, town clerk for Lyndon, told True North in a recent interview that while she sees the need to be cautious about the virus, there’s no way to know who votes in a mail-in election.

“[You can’t know] unless they are lifetime town voters [and] you’ve worked the polls for 20 years and you recognize their handwriting,” she said.

Under the current system in Vermont, when a voter requests a ballot, the person will often visit the town clerk’s office and provide a signature that can be compared to the one on the returned ballot later.

However, when a ballot is requested by phone or online — or simply mailed out to every registered voter from the Secretary of State’s Office — no signature is captured for comparison.

Dwyer said Lyndon has had problems with absentee mail-in ballots in the past.

“There were issues a few years back where political parties were requesting absentee ballots for individuals, so we were sending them out when we received the requests. But we did have some voters who said ‘I did not request it,’ and those are staunch voters who want to come in and vote in public,” she said.

She added that people are allowed to request ballots for others, but that a third party must state who they are and what their relationship is with the voter.

In a vote-by-mail system, each vote cast is placed in a certificate envelope. The voter, under pains and penalties of perjury, signs that the vote is legitimate and not coerced. When that certificate envelope containing the ballot is received by the town clerk, the vote is recorded.

For the August primary, which will not have ballots sent out automatically, the secretary of state is planning to send out postcards to inform voters that they may request a mail-in ballot if they wish to vote by mail.

George Blakeslee, the town clerk for Guildhall, said he’s OK with postcards informing voters about how to request and fill out absentee ballots. However, he’s not in favor of sending ballots out to everyone if there’s no request.

“We’ve had cases up here where people who own second homes somehow get on the checklist, and we find out that they’ve voted in two states, and they’ve been prosecuted and had jail time,” he said.

Asked what happens if a ballot falls into the wrong hands and gets voted fraudulently, Blakeslee replied, “They are gonna sign it, and you have all the authority and law if you can demonstrate that that’s a forgery. Then you’ve got yourself a case against the person.”

He added that his town has seen cases of mail-in ballot abuse.

Lynette Deatte, town clerk for the Town of Jay, also has concerns about expanding mail-in voting.

“I just think it’s too open, there’s too much room for error,” she said. “I get everybody else’s mail in my mailbox and other people have gotten mine in theirs. I just think it’s too hard to know if it’s coming back from the right person.”

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

Image courtesy of Public domain

9 thoughts on “More town clerks sound alarm on expanded vote-by-mail

  1. The analogy of our current political drama to a mutating Ataxic Neurodegenerative Satiety Deficiency Syndrome may be a past fiction morphing into fact. As in the now infamous Twilight Zone show, the Kanamit manual, entitled ‘To Serve Man’ – a primer on how humans can end famine, harness energy and eliminate the need for guns – is sent to the United Nations. Too late for many, the ‘To Serve Man’ manual is discovered to be a cookbook.

    What else can explain the destructiveness of the ideas promulgated by progressives? 🙂

  2. As a lifelong vermonter I have witnessed the slow invasion of our state by people promising to do something thing that’s helpful but then they bring more socialism in to destroy us.

    This process is never-ending and we are facing another election where the same thing is taking place.

    I know I have said it numerous times but I am really upset at the number of Republicans that are supporting a socialist for governor.

    This man doesn’t call himself a republican he calls himself an Agripublican.. the reason John Klar and his crew are doing that is because they do not support Republicans and they do not support our great President Donald Trump.

    I keep bringing attention to his own words that he supports Bernie Sanders and that he has voted for Obama twice and has voted for the clintons…

    Now someone please try to convince me based on this voting record and the fact that John klar does not support our great President Trump and has never voted for Trump that he should be running for governor as a Republican.

    What is more scary is it I saw him referred to as a Conservative Republican on a post on Facebook yesterday.

    His response is always have you read my writings.

    my response to John Klar is I don’t need to read your writings…

    I saw your voting record and you have voted for everything that is destroying the state of Vermont and the United States of America and now you want me to believe you are a Republican.

    Vermonters I’m begging you to wake up do your research and let’s stop socialism in the state of Vermont by researching the candidates that are available for governor and select one that is a Conservative that is a lifelong vermonter.

    There are other choices than John klar and Phil Scott.

    None of this is going to end until we elect true conservatives to office in the state of Vermont.

    Please let’s not prove that we are dumb vermonters by voting for John klar…he thinks like Bernie Sanders he will promise us all kinds of things and then screw us.

    Wake up Vermont time to do your homework.

  3. Mike,
    I find these revelations by Town Clerks beyond belief, far worse than I could have imagined.

    Worse still, CONDOS likely has known about these revelations for years, but he (wisely for him) kept his mouth shut, because he wants/has to serve his handlers to keep his cushy job.

    It is utterly shameful for pro-mail-in legislators to even utter “mail-in is safe, simple and fraud-free”, and “full speed ahead”, and “let Condos handle it”.


    If you make a simple purchase with a credit card, there has to be VERIFICATION TO AVOID FRAUD

    If you make an airline trip, there has to be a photo-ID, before they even give you a boarding pass to GET ON A PLANE.

    It is off-the-charts irresponsible to downgrade the civil right of VOTING by INDISCRIMINATELY sending EVERY Tom, DIck and Harry, who happen to be on a voter list, a LIVE BALLOT, THAT:


    I know, politics is a dirty, mean business.

    But there just HAVE to be levels below which no one should go without becoming an unethical criminal.

    Calling Trump all sorts of names, and then engaging in the same shenanigans, definitely is not virtuous, especially because the Dem/Progs look to have the Legislature IN THE BAG this coming November.

    Why are Dem/Progs OVERREACHING? Just for the hell of it?

    BTW, the same crap is being pulled with the disaster called GLOBAL WARMING “SOLUTIONS” ACT.

    • This article shows what happened in New Jersey regarding mail-in.



      New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal filed voter fraud charges Thursday against two Paterson city officials who allegedly engaged in a mail-in ballot scheme in connection to a special election in May.

      Grewal levelled the charges against Paterson City Councilman Michael Jackson, Councilman-Elect Alex Mendez, and two other men after the Postal Inspection Service warned Grewal’s office that hundreds of mail-in ballots were found in a Paterson mailbox, InsiderNJ reported Thursday.

      The attorney general’s Office of Public Integrity & Accountability (OPIA) began a probe after the Postal Inspection Service issued the warning.

      Paterson authorities decided to conduct the May 12 special election through mail-in ballots due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reportedly killed more than 124,000 people in the U.S.

      Only 13,557 of the 16,747 vote-by-mail ballots in Paterson were counted, a local NBC affiliate in New York reported in May.

      More than 800 ballots in Paterson were invalidated for appearing in mailboxes tethered together. One mailbox reportedly had hundreds of ballots tied together.

      The board of elections disqualified another 2,300 ballots after concluding that the SIGNATURES DID NOT MATCH VOTING RECORDS

      CONDOS see nothing wrong, full speed ahead, I am in charge, trust me, It cannot happen in Vermont

  4. “The General Assembly passed a bill earlier this month that would take the governor out of the decision to send mail-in ballots to all registered voters, clearing the way for a universal vote-by-mail system this fall.”

    This sounds a lot like consolidating power, why would they want to take the Governor out of the picture?

  5. A true Vermonter would recognize what this revelation is.

    For Vermont, for a Vermont Town Clerk, to speak out publicly for or against anything is cataclysmic. They are experts at keeping the peace as it’s part of self preservation and good diplomacy.

    We could easily have the safest, fastest voting process in the nation, if we had a leader that chose to support that.

    Instead we have somebody that aside from not even defending safe and fair elections has no issue with New World Order pimps taking over the entire process and weeding him out.

    When you give all your power to another who do you work for? When you don’t even defend the most basic, basic sworn duties of your office, who’s orders are you taking?

    Vermont has been over run. The lines of division have been misguided and wrong over the years. Cleaver people, a willing press have made things difficult to determine, what the hell is going on in our state. But everyone, everyone knows something is amiss.

    Naturally, without coordination, Americans are coming to the fore front this election. A reformation has started in Vermont, a very peaceful one that offers hope.

    The division is clear, becoming clearer by the day, our President has not defined it properly yet, but Vermont has a chance to lead the nation here, because we are at the tip of the spear.

    The real division is between American Loving Democrats, Independants and Kind Hearted Conservatives vs. New World Order Pimps, Rinos, Socialists, Progressives, Communists, Marxists, but I repeat myself…..several times.

    Cynthia Browning, John Rodgers, John Klar and his merry band of kind hearted conservatives represent the very best that Vermont has to offer. They need our support, money and attention. Like a young seedling they are vulnerable, very much so. They can not grow to be a strong oak tree or a towering White Pine standing tall above the rest with out our support at these stages.

    While we’re are supporting these young seedlings, we might do very well to get rid of, shade, stop fertilizing or just pull them from the roots if we have to others that want to do harm.

    The only thing more dramatic than town clerks speaking out publicly would be for them to put political signs in their front yards. Should that happen, prepare for ice skating on Lake Champlain this August.

  6. They say we should worry about Russia meddling in our elections Nah, we have
    Democrats in charge………….. now that’s scary !!

    Wake up people, by hook or by crook Democrats playbook.

  7. Let me ask a NUMB question. When if ever will the majority in Montpelier leave their ivory tower and PAY ATTENTION to the folks who have to implement their blue sky ideas????? They just might learn something.

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