Senate approves changes to bill for online and ranked choice voting and more

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ALL ONLINE: Elections may soon be conducted using online electronic ballots for those who are overseas or disabled, according to a bill that recently passed the Vermont Senate.

On Friday the Vermont Senate approved changes to a bill dealing with election laws, including online voting among other provisions.

During the morning session, Sen. Ruth Hardy, D-Addison, introduced the bill, H.429, to the Senate floor. Senators passed the latest amendments to the bill with a 17-13 vote.

“H. 429 is a miscellaneous elections bill — it includes a lot of provisions that will make our elections fairer, more transparent, and more efficient to administer, and will provide some important access to voting for some very specific voters who have a hard time voting in Vermont,” Hardy said.

Online Voting

Hardy noted that senators had been hearing from constituents about a provision of the bill called   “secure limited electronic ballot return.” She said it applies to a “narrowly defined group of Vermont voters,” namely voters who are overseas and people who have disabilities.

“I know that many of us have heard a lot on this issue,” she said. “Most of them are people who are in our military, people who have been deployed overseas.”

Hardy mentioned blind people as a sector of society that could benefit from such voting.

She added that 31 other U.S. states are already doing electronic ballot returns, and said Elections Director Will Senning and former Secretary of State Jim Condos are strong supporters of online electronic ballot returns.

Hardy said a group called Free Speech for People was against the online voting, and also noted that written testimony from cybersecurity experts was mixed.

Ranked choice voting for presidential primary elections

The bill also would allow voters in local communities to have ranked-choice voting.

With ranked-choice voting, if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, candidates with the fewest votes drop out of count and those votes get redistributed and re-tallied to a voter’s second-choice candidate, to see if someone then wins a majority of votes. The system has been criticized as convoluted and potentially undermining voter intent.

In testimony earlier this year, Senning told lawmakers that when ranked-choice voting is implemented, both paper and electronic formats must be physically gathered and transported from clerks’ offices to to a central location in the state.

The Sore Loser provision

Another aspect of the bill pertains to candidates who lose primaries but attempt to run in the general election under a different party affiliation.

“In no event shall a candidate who loses a major party primary be nominated to appear on the general election ballot pursuant to this subchapter by a committee of any party other than the party for which the candidate appeared on the primary ballot,” the bill language states.

Hardy said 36 other states have such laws implemented already. However, opponents expressed that the provision could limit the number of candidate choices Vermonters get in the general election.

Candidate financial disclosures

The bill includes a financial disclosure provision that imposes penalties if a candidate for office doesn’t file a financial disclosure.

“We are required under current law to file a financial disclosure provision, that financial disclosure provision,” Hardy said. “If a candidate fails to file it, there are no sort of penalties involved right now.”

H.429 will expand this requirement for those running for county offices, which would include sheriffs, state attorneys, assistant judges, probate judges, and high bailiffs. Penalties could be $10 per day, with a limit of $1,000.

Write-in candidates

Concerning write-in candidates for county, state, and federal elections — not local elections — this part of the bill would “say unless you registered as a write-in candidate 10 days prior to the election, the clerks don’t have to individually count,” Hardy said.

It also makes some changes regarding what write-in candidates must achieve in the primaries in order to advance.

“It also increases the threshold for a write-in candidate to win a primary to be greater than 10% of the votes cast or the number of signatures required to run,” she said.

Political donations

Another part permits candidates in statewide elections to donate up to $20,000 to a political party. She said that current law permits up to $10,000 from any single source.

Friday’s Senate session can be viewed online here.

A one-sided bill?

Sen. Irene Wrenner, D-Chittenden-North, suggested the bill has lacked bipartisan support thus far.

“Speaking of the House, this bill only passed with single-party support with many Democrats voting against it, and others only supporting it after a significant amount of pressure from Democratic leadership,” she said.

“In other states, we see parties with supermajorities or parties who have control over both chambers and the governor’s office able to pass election laws without bipartisan support, I would hate for us to do that now.”

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

Images courtesy of Pubilc domain and Public domain

17 thoughts on “Senate approves changes to bill for online and ranked choice voting and more

  1. The online voting will allow for the best party hackers to call the election. Finally the progressive are producing a level playing field.

  2. OMG rank choice in vt? holy moly this is nothing short of election tampering…….
    SAY NO loudly Vermont
    and ONLINE VOTING…….unreal this even considered; more opportunity for corruption which we have so much of now……….

    • Yup. Ranked Choice voting will happen in VT. With that, the the Dems & Progressives own VT – and there will be no turning back. They will also bring out online voting, slowly..under the ruse of overseas military, or others out of the country…but, just like a dog crawls slowly up onto the couch…online voting will come to all, eventually.

      Their “spider web” is near complete…they control every aspect soon of VT….they control all education, K – College….Unions control all teachers, State and Municipal workers….they control most all VT Media…they control all the untold numbers of “non profits”….enviro-Eco lobby firms…and then the vicious LAWFARE Eco-Warriors. All of this is funded by a handful of the richest in VT….all of them basking in white liberal guilt & massive inherited $$$$….the Shelburne Farms WOKE- Climate Mafia…..the Lintillac Foundation, Rockefeller and Vanderbilt descendants.

      Stay in VT going forward, is at your own financial risk. They hate you…class envy, class warfare. Any Republican notions or votes are soon enough meaningless…

  3. The bill status says the last action was a vote to read a third time, which passed. What is the status now? Senate Journal for that date comes up “page not found.” It comes as no surprise the ogliarchs and despots are doubling down to lock up control and power with election rigging. Since March of 2020, they have snuck more unconstituional election lawfare through than anytime in modern history. The Durham report is out. Election interference proven along side the Horowitz report on the Federal level. The State is as guilty as the Feds. Conspiracy theory no more. If we only had a justice system. Oh well, carry on.

  4. What could possibly go wrong?
    All this talk about ballot machines NOT being connected to the internet to ensure against hacking and now let’s just all vote ONLINE. Because we all know how safe and secure being online is right?
    I thought our last election was the most secure “ever”. This is a confession that it wasn’t, and since 2020 many of the integrity issues have been addressed and resolved making it harder to cheat. So they change the game and now all those new fail-safes won’t amount to a hill of beans.

  5. Sarah Palin was screwed by ranked voting in Alaska.
    It is just another avenue for cheating
    It is not allowed in Europe

    In Turkey, the election counting was done in one day as is common in almost all European countries, that follow the KISS principle.

    Everyone has a photo ID identity card with a zip code, which determines where to vote IN PERSON

  6. Rank is just what what it say’s, voting that stinks. Now instead of pure leftist commies we’ll get mediocre leftist commies or more precisely stupider leftist commies. It will become so confusing people will just give up voting in my estimation. Another solution to a problem that never existed but is the darling of the leftist commies nationwide.. more agenda we don’t need.

  7. Why would a super majority need to change the voting laws?

    What would be the reason they felt it necessary to change, when they have won?

    Isn’t Turkey using this system now? Is Turkey the leader of free, open and fair elections?

    Do you think they feel sorry for the VTGOP? That they want to give them a chance to win?

    Why if we just had the most open, fair and secure election in that the entire state of Vermont has ever, EVER experienced…….would they need to immediately make such a drastic and monumental change?

    Why hasn’t this been the major topic of political debate, in the news, from the Governor, from the VTGOP and from the Vermont Dems?????

    Who benefits? Who wants it? Why? Where does this occur outside the United States?

  8. “Hardy said 56 other states have such laws implemented already. ”
    I know all I need to know.

    • maybe they are talking about those “states” coming across our border…..

      they just need a few more votes….we’ll find them in those extra states…

      too funny……

      this would be a good spoof for the Babylon Bee…

  9. Wake up Vermont, progressives have the power in Montpelier, and they will do whatever
    to stay in power and these are just a few new concerns on how they plan on doing it !!!

    Wake up, people, the political cancer is spreading and your voice will not matter……..

  10. There are serious issues worldwide with postal service overseas and/or military members who may receive mail once a month depending on the post they are serving.

    Electronic Ballot return is very limited and there are currently 31 states that allow it for UOCAVA voters (Overseas & Military voters) and for some physically impaired.

    Of the 31 states – over half would be considered Red states (Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Indiana, Louisiana, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia).

    • “Online Voting” or Electronic Ballot return is not the issue. You seek to mask the true intent of this legislation- the campaign funds shift, write in ballots, “sore loser” provision and ranked choice voting.
      ALL of these clearly benefit the party in power, as evidenced by the current results in other states. Sliding in the comment about “red” states is a deception from the damage that these other policies have to elections.

  11. Close the book on “free and fair” elections. What condos, balint and krowinski started in 2020, hardy
    finished the final chapter last Friday.
    ms. hardy, of central NY origins (think Ithaca and Cornell University) has successfully established that brand of elitist politics into Vermont’s now corrupted system.
    I do wonder if the democrat party in Vermont will even realize what they did in the last few years- when in a few more years the progressive elitist party will push them from the super-majority they relish now.

  12. Now it is really “game over” for Vermont, if this voting bill get passed ever….because allowing online voting is just the start to make all online votes…. and “ranked choice” vote rules will make the Dem-Liberal-Progressives locked as winners…and the super majority likely expands further.

    The next major problem is when Phil Scott decides he is tired of being a “pablum puppet” for Dems – and they make sure that he wins, just so the Dems can say they strive for “balance”. But that is a ruse, a lie. They’ll do what they want to their puppet, by over riding his veto anytime they want. Phil Scott is 65 now (or 66?)…there is no other reason for him to stay on now, as Gov, unless he does it now solely for the ego, good salary & benefits. Otherwise he is just a “neutered, near powerless CEO, Eunuch now. GET READY for the “progressive-pony-tailed-out-of-state- rich- supposed-organic- farmer-trust-funder…. to take over…Then you can just flush VT down the toilet.

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