A post-election audit of the 2020 general election for seven randomly selected communities in Vermont will take place Wednesday in Montpelier.
Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos said the audit is to begin at 9 a.m. at the Pavilion Building on State Street, and he touted the importance of the work.
“Post-election audits are a best practice that, as per Vermont law, we conduct after every General Election, to verify the accuracy of election results and provide Vermonters with further confidence in the integrity of the election process,” Condos said.
The precincts chosen include Pownal, Randolph, Brandon, Topsham, Warren, Worcester, and South Burlington’s Chittenden 7-4 district. Six of these communities used electronic tabulators, and Topsham counts votes by hand.
Every ballot in each of the communities will be audited, including every race on each of those ballots. Ballots have been locked away in vaults at town offices, sealed into special ballot bags.
The audit will be streamed live on ORCA Media’s YouTube channel.
Mail-in ballots from now on in Vermont?
Meanwhile, state lawmakers are looking to pass S.15, which would make the new COVID-lockdown standards for conducting elections permanent. In Vermont, that means live ballots would continue to be mailed out to every Vermonter on the voter checklist, whether requested or not.
Nationally, public confidence in federal elections is at a historic low. Just one-quarter of all Republicans trust the results of the 2020 presidential election. Expanded mail-in voting played a role in lowering confidence in elections among many Americans.
Rep. Samantha Lefebvre, R-Orange, is one of two Republicans in the House Government Operations Committee working on S. 15.
“[This is about] having a ballot sent to everyone’s mailbox without requesting that ballot, and then not then not knowing who’s actually going to end up getting it, and not being able to confirm who gets it back.”
She said if the state is going to have universal mail-in voting, it should be done with safeguards in place to prevent fraud.
“If were are going to have our voting changed then at least we should put into safeguards what other states have put in,” she said.
Vermont is “on path to having least secure mail-in voting process in the country.” While ballot harvesting by candidates or their staff is prohibited by S. 15, no other safeguards exist to protect against fraud.
Not for New Hampshire
Next door in New Hampshire, Democrat Secretary of State Bill Gardner has been speaking out for keeping the federal government from interfering with state election processes. Gardner has been working in elections since 1976.
He is adamantly against most of his party’s major election agenda items — including mass mail-in voting and no-voter-ID laws. Gardner is also against HR.1, which is a proposed federal takeover of elections.
According to Gardner, when election laws are tightened, voter turnout increases, as does the confidence in the legitimacy of the election.
“I am deeply troubled and concerned about the direction some in Congress would take the states in terms of the conduct of elections,” Gardner told the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee earlier this month. “This will damage voter confidence, diminish the importance of Election Day itself, and ultimately result in lower voter turnout.”
This notion is the opposite of what Condos proposes in his commentaries.
In a recent Wall Street Journal piece by Kimberley Strassel, Gardner says there’s a constitutional requirement for many of the election safeguards in place for New Hampshire. For example, New Hampshire residents must show up to vote in person unless they are physically disabled or out of town. That means no mail-in voting. Also, the New Hampshire Constitution requires that the final vote tally for each candidate be publicly declared at each polling place the night of the election after the polls close.
New Hampshire also doesn’t allow early voting, due to the fact that early voting can cause vote counting to stretch for days.”