Vt. changes election laws amid coronavirus outbreak

MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) Changes are coming to Vermont's elections, to keep voters safe during the coronavirus outbreak.

Officials say candidates are no longer required to get signatures to run for office.

"Eliminating the requirement for candidates to collect signatures for petitions is necessary in this time when we are sheltering at home, avoiding gatherings, and avoiding unnecessary contact with other people," Elections Director Will Senning said in a statement.

All candidates wishing to appear on the ballot will still be required to file financial disclosure statements and consent of candidate forms.

Local towns can also change from floor meetings to Australian ballot, without the required full vote of the town. The way people vote during the 2020 election may change, too. Measures could include mailing ballots to every registered voter, extending deadlines to receive mail-in votes, creating secure ballot return stations and moving polling locations.

"We hope to not have to make any changes to Vermont's election procedures, but that would be a very optimistic outlook," Vt. Secretary of State Jim Condos said in a statement. "We have no idea what this health emergency will look like in one month, 5 months, or 8, and so we need to be planning now to make sure that voters can still vote, and that our democracy can still thrive during crisis."