Why the pandemic didn’t stop in-person voting in Vermont

Published: Aug. 11, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Even though there was a big push for early voting, many people still made it out to the polls on Tuesday for in-person voting. Our Ike Bendavid found out why many Vermonters still chose to go to the voting booth during the pandemic.

A big issue drawing voters to the polls in South Burlington was the school budget. It’s a $52 million plan, pared down after voters rejected the first two proposals.

But voters we talked with statewide said they either don't trust mail-in voting or they came out to keep the tradition of in-person voting alive.

In South Burlington at the polls, the pandemic meant wearing masks and staying six feet apart from each other. But being able to vote in person helped some see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel.

"Makes you feel like everything is OK and will go back to normal," said Mathieu Bergeron of South Burlington.

“Voting in person because I believe in the state motto of freedom and unity. So if you have the opportunity to cast your ballot in person, definitely the best way to approach it,” said Corey Santorello of South Burlington.

In St. Albans, they say they received a record number of mail-in votes with over 1,000 requests

"It is nice to have a higher turnout," St. Albans City Clerk Curry Galloway said.

Which the city says will help with the general election in the fall.

“It’s a good trial run for November because I’m sure that turnout will be much higher,” Galloway said.

Some voters tell us they came out Tuesday because they don't trust mail-in voting. They say dropping your own ballot in the box is the way to go.

"I think it's more reliable," said Tom Walsh of St. Albans.

"I don't agree with the whole mail-in voting," said Lee Nichols of St. Albans.

In Middlebury, the town clerk says they received more early ballots for this primary than the total number of votes in the last primary. The town also says more people are showing up in person.

"The turnout for people coming through and walking in is more than I expected," Middlebury Town Clerk Ann Webster said.

To make the process more social distancing-friendly, Middlebury moved their polling location from the Town Hall to the rec center to space out booths.

"I think it's been very good," Webster said.

"Just kinda old school about it. I like going down and voting and feeling the pulse of the election," said Bryan Parks of Middlebury. "I just moved back from Maine a couple weeks ago. I'm happy I could catch this in time."

One thing that voters told us across the board-- they came out to vote because they feel it’s safe and their communities were following proper coronavirus protocols.

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