Vt. election officials highlight new ‘ballot curing’ process

Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 5:13 PM EDT
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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s primary election is one month away and so far some 33,000 early and absentee ballots have been requested by voters, and about 4,000 have been signed, sealed, and delivered to be counted on Election Day. During the last primary, thousands of ballots were not counted because of mistakes made by voters, but officials say there’s now a process to fix mistakes.

When voters request a ballot through the state or their town clerk, they receive in the mail -- one for each major party.

“Right now, what you’re doing is you’re helping the parties determine who their candidates are, so you can only vote on one party ballot during the primary,” explained Barre City Clerk Carol Dawes.

As part of that closed primary system, voters fill out only one ballot but return all three through the mail or in person at the polls on Election Day.

Last election cycle, Dawes says nearly 10% of mailed-in ballots were defective or had voter errors. “Because of the confusion about the three ballots and which one goes in which envelope and which ones have to be returned,” she said. Failing to sign the envelope is also a problem.

Statewide, some 6,000 ballots of the 174,000 cast were defective and were not counted. Vermont lawmakers this year created a fix, a process called ballot curing. Now, if there is an issue with a ballot, the town clerk is supposed to send the voter a postcard with a box checked explaining what needs to be fixed.

“The voter has an opportunity to sign, ‘Yes, I want my ballot counted. Yes, I want it fixed, this is my attestation.’ They sign and return the postcard, then they’re able to cure their ballot,” Dawes said.

Voters can also cure their ballot digitally through the Vermont secretary of state’s website.

Dawes says anyone with questions is encouraged to reach out to their local town clerk. Early voting ballots need to arrive at town clerks’ offices by August 9th at 7 pm. Officials recommend mailing ballots at least a week ahead of time to make sure they meet the deadline.

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