Roper: Vermont to have no ballot security measures if S.15 passes

By Rob Roper

Vermont is on the cusp of having the least secure election system in the nation. The bill that passed the Vermont Senate 27-3 (S.15) is now under consideration in the House. It would make permanent the temporary, COVID-emergency provisions adopted for the 2020 general election, including the policy of mailing “live” ballots to all voters who are active on the voter checklist, regardless of whether or not the voter requests an absentee ballot.

Proponents argue that they are trying to “create a balance” between making it easy to vote and maintaining ballot security. That’s the rhetoric, but the truth is that should S.15 become law, Vermont would have no effective security mechanisms to verify the validity of an absentee ballot, and the objective is to have everyone vote absentee (though that is not required). There is no balance, nor any attempt to create any.

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

Proponents argue that five states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Utah and Hawaii) conduct elections by mail with no problems. Maybe, but it is also true that those states employ rigorous ballot security measures for mail in votes, including mandatory voter ID provisions such as signature matching (the signature on the ballot return envelope must match one on file with election officials), or the requirement that the absentee ballot be returned with a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a social security number. There needs to be some sort of verifiable information that allows election officials to have a high degree of confidence that the vote being counted was actually cast by the person to whom the vote is being attributed. Vermont would have no such security measurs.

States that conduct voting by mail also ban large scale “ballot harvesting”, the controversial practice of candidates, parties or special interest groups systematically collecting and returning absentee ballots. In Colorado, the gold standard in mail in voting, for example, it is illegal for anyone to collect and turn in more than ten ballots. In Vermont, large scale ballot harvesting is legal. Though a provision in S.15 prohibits candidates and their paid staffers from engaging in ballot harvesting, it is a largely meaningless. Most state house and senate candidates don’t have paid staff. However, unions, activist organizations, political parties, and lobbyists do, and they would be free to ballot harvest to their hearts’ – and budgets’ – content.

The National Conference of State Legislatures keeps track of voting laws in all fifty states and notes the pros and cons regarding voter access vs. ballot security for each, such as all-mail voting, voter ID requirements, ballot harvesting, early voting, “same day” registration, and automatic voter registration. If S.15 becomes law, Vermont would be the only state in the union to adopt all of the access policies – mostly in their most extreme iterations — and none of the security provisions. In other words, we would have no balance at all between access and security, and the least secure voting system in the country.

In fact, if one were designing a voting system specifically for people who wanted to cheat in an election, it would be hard to come up with a better system than Vermont’s. We will mail live ballots to all active voters, putting between 100,000 and 200,000 unclaimed or unwanted ballots into circulation. Special interest groups would be free to systematically harvest those ballots, and with Vermont’s 45 days of early voting, would have the maximum time available to organize and execute this activity. Automatic voter registration maximizes the number of potential unwanted/unclaimed ballots to target by registering people who are disinterested in voting. Because Vermont has no verifiable ID requirements for validating absentee ballots or identifying fraudulently cast ballots, bad actors could be extremely confident that they would not be caught committing fraud. And, with 30 days of early processing of absentee ballots, even if fraudulent votes were flagged because the real voter showed up at the polls, there is no way to remove the bad votes from the final count.

Election officials at the state and local levels admit, when pressed, that they have no way to verify who actually filled out an absentee ballot. When asked how he would be able to catch someone fraudulently casting someone else’s unclaimed/unwanted ballot, Montpelier City Clerk John Odum said, “No, we can’t necessarily stop them.” This in unacceptable.

For citizens to have confidence that election results are accurate and fair, election officials have to have the tools to verify that the votes cast and counted are actually the votes of the people to whom the votes are being attributed and ensure “one person one vote.” If S.15 becomes law, this will not be the case.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Stowe.

Image courtesy of Public domain
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6 thoughts on “Roper: Vermont to have no ballot security measures if S.15 passes

  1. What Vermont Leftists don’t seem to understand is that election chaos and anarchy are two edged swords.

  2. Republicans need to be made a small insignificant 3rd party since they act that way. No verification. No vote.

  3. We need offense… our State of Vermont.

    What is the VT GOP putting up for fair, easy accessible and trust worthy elections.

    Can’t win a ball game on all defense, can’t win an election on defense,

    Can’t pass any bills if you only say the others are bad.

    We know their game plan, they are entirely predictable and certainly “organized”. Show their weakness by making them reject a bill that protects election integrity.

    Get the people, the citizens of Vermont working for us.

    Finders fee….
    $500 for every false ballot mailed out. Second find $1500. Third $5,000.
    $10,000 for every violation of voter fraud.

    Suddenly you’ll find people making all sorts of reports and the list getting fixed pretty fast.

    There are so many things we could be doing.

    • For a start – just publish the voter checklist as soon after the election as possible, showing who voted and who didn’t. No one needs to know how a person voted – only that they did so or didn’t do so. And it doesn’t require any additional work because Town Clerks and poll workers check of voters off when they cast a ballot by mail, absentee or in-person as it is. Again, just publish the list for all to see.

  4. This sounds like the abortion law, The Vermont Legislature passed. No regulations and no safeguards. It would be criminal to pass this bill with no safeguards. I have no confidence that this will guarantee safe and honest elections. I know that the Secretary of State ,Jim Condos, does not want voter suppression but doesn’t he want Vermont elections to be secure? Don’t the Vermont Legislators want fair and honest elections? It cannot be secure if there are hundred of thousands unused ballots circulating around the State. I received three extra ballots.

  5. So let’s understand, an emergency provision was put in back in 2020, due to the onslaught
    from the CCP-COVID virus, so why is it being made permanent now ??

    And again the brain trust in Montpelier believe that mailing “live” ballots, to all voters who
    are active on the voter checklist, hey Condos when was the last time these voter files were
    updated ??, that’s what I thought…..pathetic.

    Vermont is on the cusp of having the ” least” secure election system in the nation, Vermonter’s
    look at who we have in charge of the state, and what condition the state is in and now they want
    to take your vote and open pandora’s box with the ” Publisher’s Clearing House ” style election
    process and what do you do with your PCH mail. Yup, that’s the plan ballots will be everywhere

    Wake up people, they don’t care it’s all about an agenda, your rights and vote really don’t matter
    they have a plan.

    Go to the polls, with ID, or request an “absentee” ballot anything else is a scam………..

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