How to return early ballots now that it’s too late to mail them

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 4:42 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Primary day in Vermont is just around the corner and election officials are reminding folks who got early ballots to make sure they get them in on time.

More than 50,000 voters requested early ballots and more than half have been returned already.

It’s too late to mail them back, so what should you do if you still have your ballot at home?

“It’s really about just providing options and choices for Vermonters to be able to cast their ballots,” said Jim Condos, D-Vt. Secretary of State.

With Vermont’s primary election next Tuesday, Condos says voters who obtained early ballots have three options to make sure their votes get counted: turn it in directly on Election Day, bring it to your local town clerk’s office or use a state-provided dropbox.

But when it comes to using the mail, you’re out of luck.

“If you haven’t already mailed your ballot back, it’s really too late to do that,” Condos said.

Tracy Borst is the president of the Vermont Municipal Clerks’ & Treasurers’ Association. She says some towns throughout the state have noticed slower than usual postal service.

“We can tell that it’s taking longer for the ballots to come through the mail whether that’s going out or coming back. Once we got to this week, we just encouraged voters to drop them in the dropbox as opposed to putting them in the mail or coming in to get them rather than us sending them out to them,” Borst said.

Condos says his office hasn’t received reports of delayed election mail so far. He says his office has been reassured that election mail already submitted will be given priority.

“We actually worked with the postal service on the design of our election envelopes to ensure that they were highly visible and easily discerned to be election-related mail, and they provide higher priority for that,” Condos explained.

According to data from the secretary of state’s office, so far more than 50% of ballots issued have been returned, but some haven’t been filled out correctly.

“You’re given all party ballots, so you’re given a Democratic, a Republican and a Progressive ballot. You may only vote one. That voted ballot goes in the voted ballot envelope-- fill in the blank, sign, date and seal it. The unvoted ballots go in the unvoted ballot envelope and all of those must come back,” Borst said.

That process has to be followed even if you bring your completed ballot to your local polling place on Tuesday.

Condos says, so far, roughly 560 ballots have been deemed defective. But thanks to a new process of curing ballots, 360 voters have been able to fix the mistakes and resubmit them.

He says if your ballot is not received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, it will not count.

Primary day is Tuesday, Aug. 9.

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