Vt. GOP launches excess ballot reporting website

Published: Oct. 14, 2022 at 5:39 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - It’s election season and Vermont registered voters should either have their ballots in hand or have returned them to their town clerk. But just like in 2020, some households may have received more ballots than voters. Calvin Cutler has the details on a new GOP effort to help cull local voter checklists.

It’s Vermont’s second general election featuring universal mail-in ballots. And just like 2020, some households are receiving ballots addressed to tenants or homeowners who have moved out. That includes the home of Vermont GOP chair Paul Dame, who received a ballot belonging to a former homeowner he never heard of.

“It’s been four years since this person lived here,” Dame said.

That extra ballot came because the former resident was still on the town’s voter checklist. Removing someone from the list is tricky and must follow certain state and federal law requirements. Voters can become “challenged” if they miss multiple elections. Local town clerks will then follow up.

In 2020, Essex voter Ray Tomlinson also received two ballots. This time around he received only one after the voter behind that extra ballot was removed from the voter rolls. “I feel a lot better about the situation,” Tomlinson said..

In an effort to gather more stories like Tomlinson’s, the Vermont GOP is launching an online tool to report duplicate or excess ballots. The survey has gathered 10 reports so far from towns including Northfield, Wallingford, Burlington, and Putney.

“The voter checklist maintenance is really an ongoing process,” said Vt. Secretary of State Jim Condos, D-Vt. He suspects the new GOP list is politically motivated and cautions that any effort to make it easier to remove people from the voter rolls needs to be done carefully. “Voting is a constitutional right, so the removal of someone behind the checklist needs to have evidence behind it.”

GOP election skeptics, including former President Trump, have taken aim at universal mail-in ballot systems. arguing they can lead to election fraud, something there is no evidence to support. Dame says the new website is simply a tool to streamline election expenses. “I don’t think that there’s anything nefarious or ill-intended by this. It’s a big project and it takes a focus to want to fix it,” he said.

According to Condos, voters that receive extra ballots should contact their town or city clerk.