Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed S.15 making universal vote-by-mail permanent for Vermont’s elections going forward, and the reaction on social media has been swift and largely supportive, despite the bill’s lack of security safeguards.
Mail-in voting is a controversial election method that has been banned in some countries. And some U.S. states require an excuse to use it, as critics say the method is vulnerable to election fraud. On Monday, Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos on Twitter praised the insecure voting method on Twitter.
Issues like automatic voter registration, early voting and voting by mail aren't (or at least shouldn't be) subject to political games. These are policies everyone can get behind, regardless of politics. Fortunately for VT we don't play those games with the right to vote. #vtpoli
— Vermont Secretary of State’s Office (@VermontSOS) June 7, 2021
The governor not only embraced the expanded voting options for Vermont’s general elections, but said it would be used for smaller, local elections, such as primaries and for school budgets.
Scott’s actions are contrary to the direction of his party’s membership nationwide. A new poll by Quinnipiac University found that two-in-three Republicans nationwide do not believe that Biden’s election victory was legitimate. The same poll found just one in four say that Biden is the legitimate president.
Many responses to the bill’s signing are positive. Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint, D-Windham, posted that she only sees good out of sending active ballots to everyone on the lists, calling it a “win for democracy!”
I've said it before, I'll say it again—When we make voting more accessible, more people vote. When we make voting more accessible, democracy better reflects the will of the people. S.15 is a win for democracy! 🎊 #vtpoli #VotingRights https://t.co/NglJq2dGei
— Becca Balint (@BeccaBalintVT) June 7, 2021
Balint also shared that the NY Times reported on Vermont’s election changes.
— Becca Balint (@BeccaBalintVT) June 8, 2021
VPR’s Bob Kinzel tweeted that Vermont is moving away from restricting access to voting.
When some states are restricting access to voting, Vermont is going in the other direction. Gov Scott signs bill to make permanent the system used in November when all registered voters were mailed a ballot and 75% either mailed them back or brought them in to vote early #vtpoli
— Bob Kinzel (@VPRKinzel) June 7, 2021
Tim McQuiston, editor of Vermont Business Magazine, tweeted that the prior method of having to contact one’s town office to obtain a ballot may have been too restrictive.
— Tim McQuiston (@mcquiston) June 7, 2021
Frequent social media political commentator Dave Silberman, who also serves as high bailiff for Addison County, suggested that Scott only signed the bill to win political points.
Phil Scott will take credit once again for something he not only had almost nothing to do with, but actively tried to block early on before realizing a veto would be bad PR #vtpoli https://t.co/o66CTqHS3L
— Dave Silberman (@DaveSilberman) June 8, 2021
Critics of the measure have repeatedly warned that the bill, as written, lacks any security measures. In a recent commentary criticizing Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos, Rob Roper, president of the Ethan Allen Institute, noted that town clerks and even the director of elections testified there is no way to know who sends in votes by mail, and that votes cast fraudulently would “almost certainly be processed and counted.”
Rep. Samantha Lefebvre, R-Orange, is one of two Republicans in the House Government Operations Committee. Lefebvre said the state is going to be mailing all these ballots out 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.”
Elsewhere in the nation, an election audit of an Arizona county recently determined that 11 percent of mail-in ballots were determined defective. One recent incident, also reported from Arizona, involved ballots being allegedly stolen out of mailboxes and discarded under rocks at a farm.
Across state lines in New Hampshire, Democrat Secretary of State Bill Gardner, the longest-serving SOS in the nation’s history, told Washington lawmakers this year that expanding mail-in balloting would “damage voter confidence … [and] ultimately result in lower voter turnout.”