This commentary is by Paul Dame, chair of the Vermont GOP.
Hundreds of thousands of Vermonters have recently received their own November General Election ballot delivered to the comfort of their own home. But some, including myself, have received more than just their own ballots. Despite living in my current single-family home for more than four years, I received a ballot for someone else that I don’t know, nor was it the person I bought the house from.
This highlights one of the problems with the all mail-in voting scheme that Democrats rushed through the legislature. And while Republicans actually benefited from this in 2020 by picking up four seats in the House and one in the Senate, it still leaves a lot of room for improvement.
The reason I got an excess ballot at my home address is because virtually everyone who knows anything about Vermont elections knows that, generally speaking, our voter rolls are terribly outdated and unmaintained. There are certainly some towns out there who do an excellent job keeping their list updated and accurate. It can become a point of pride, especially because when we have an accurate voter list it boosts our voter participation rate.
But like any database, the voter list does not maintain itself. Town clerks and the secretary of state can’t spend all of their “free time” scouring the internet and death records or change of address forms in order to accurately update the voter checklist — they need the help of honest citizens who want to clean up this relatively sloppy process. As I’ve said before, ballots are not being mailed to people; they are being mailed to addresses, and the people may or may not be there.
Remember, every voter on the checklist who doesn’t actually live at the registered address is an additional postage cost for the state. And with postage rates rising just as fast as everything else, that is getting compounded over time and across thousands of potentially bad ballots.
So rather than merely complaining about the process, the VTGOP is going to take a small step in improving our efforts to make our elections more efficient and more safe. Last week we launched a new page on our website titled “Excess Ballot Reporting”
If you have received an excess ballot, you can report it on our website. Just leave us the information from the ballot, specifically whose name was on the ballot, what address it was sent to, and any other relevant information you may have. You can also include your own contact info so we can follow up with any questions. You can use this if you are like me, and received a stranger’s ballot in your mailbox, or if you are like a listener I spoke with on my last radio appearance you may have received duplicate of your own ballot. WCAX also covered the launch here on their website, and since we started last week we’ve been recording an average of one new Excess Ballot report nearly every eight hours.
Since our town clerks are incredibly busy, and there isn’t anything they can do about the list before Election Day, the state party will be waiting until after the election, and forwarding all of these reports to the town clerk or appropriate election authority in order for them to begin the challenge process outlined in state law. While we can forward the information, only the local election authority can properly purge the voter rolls.
While I know of no known cases of someone casting a vote with an excess ballot, we can all do out part to reduce the number of excess ballots being circulated through the mail in the next election by filing a report or contacting your own town clerk yourself. It will also save the state money for unnecessary postage every other year and reduce the number of voters who get concerned when someone else’s ballot arrives unexpectedly.