Vermont clerks gear up for history-making vote

Published: Sep. 24, 2020 at 5:42 PM EDT
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SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermonters should expect their election ballots in the mail soon, after the Secretary of State’s office Tuesday began sending the ballots in batches to all registered Vermont voters.

South Burlington City Clerk Donna Kinville was busy at City Hall Thursday getting other select ballots ready. “Election year has been like nothing I have ever experienced in my 20 years of being a city clerk,” she said.

Those ballots are for newly registered voters or those who have changed their address in South Burlington. For the first time ever, every registered voter in the state will receive a ballot in the mail.

If there are any issues, clerks like Kinville will step up all around the state to make sure every vote counts. “We then have to become detectives and we need to figure out where this ballot goes, have they already voted, have they voted in another town at a different address?” she said.

So how did we get here? Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos says the Legislature approved mail-in ballots because of the pandemic and to help keep Vermonters safe. “This is only a temporary fix,” he said.

Vermonters can get their vote counted by mailing back the ballot or dropping it off at their local town clerk, or by voting in-person on Election Day. “We are still going to maintain all 275 polls around the state,” Condos said.

He says that 440,000 ballots will be in the mail by next week. The printing of the envelopes and postcards happened in Vermont but the shipping and the mailing of the ballots happened through a New Hampshire company. Condos says it’s a family-owned and trusted company to handle getting the ballots into the hands of registered Vermonters. “They are really one of our most trusted vendors. Even the clerks trust them,” he said.

But will Vermonters make use of this added convenience? Voters we spoke with had mixed reactions on if they will mail in their ballot.

“I’m probably going to mail it in this year. We are doing everything else differently. Might as well do this as well,” said Jason Dooley of South Burlington.

“I think it’s going to work great. I don’t think there is going to be any issues with it. I don’t see any issue with going in-person and doing it myself, so I’m going to complete it that way,” said Ryan Magee of South Burlington.

“A lot of people are not being safe. I’m a high-risk individual and I don’t feel any reason to subject myself to any extra exposure,” said Larry Dunham of South Burlington.

“No, I will not be. I will actually be voting in person,” said Johnny Chen of South Burlington.

To see if your town’s ballots have been mailed, click here and follow the link to “Mailed Ballots by Town”

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