More than 100,000 Vermonters have already voted in this year’s general election.
According to Secretary of State Jim Condos, town and city clerks had received 103,395 mail-in ballots by Wednesday evening.
Condos is also reminding voters who want to vote by mail to send their ballots by Monday, Oct. 31 in order to ensure they will be received on time. If they haven’t mailed their ballots by that date, Condos said, voters should drop them off at their town clerk’s office by Nov. 7 or bring them to their polling place on Nov. 8.
This year’s advance voting tally is lagging behind 2020, when the state had received 175,061 ballots about two weeks before Election Day. But Condos said he “really doubt(s)” that advance voting rates will match the last cycle because it was a presidential election year and early in the Covid-19 pandemic.
This is the first year in which universal mail-in voting is a permanent feature of Vermont elections.
The practice of sending mail-in ballots to all active registered voters was first allowed in Vermont in 2020 to help reduce the spread of Covid. Gov. Phil Scott subsequently signed a universal mail-in voting law for general elections, Act 60, in June 2021.
In 2018, during the entire midterm election, only 72,230 early votes were cast. In 2016, the prior presidential election year, 95,203 total early votes were cast.
This is also the first year that the state has instituted ballot “curing,” a process that allows a voter who might have made a mistake in filling out their ballot to correct the issue and, if fixed correctly, have their ballot counted.
In 2020, voters submitted 1,335 defective ballots, Condos said, and none were cured because there was no process in place. So far this year, town clerks have tagged 334 defective ballots, and 183 have been cured.
“That’s pretty significant,” Condos said. More than half of defective ballots have been cured, and he expects the rate of cured ballots to improve.
Condos added that ballots were redesigned this year to make the ballot instructions more “readable and user friendly,” which he hopes will bring down the overall rate of defective ballots.
Condos said that town clerks send a postcard with options to cure a ballot to voters with defective ballots.
Vermont has about 500,000 registered voters, including more than 440,000 “active” registered voters, according to Condos. Inactive voters have been challenged by a municipality’s Board of Civil Authority, according to state statute.
Following passage of the mail-in voting law, Vermont ranks as the third easiest state to vote in the country, according to the 2022 edition of the Cost of Voting Index, compiled by a trio of researchers for the Election Law Journal. In 2020, Vermont ranked 23rd.
For Vermonters who decide not to vote by mail, in-person ballots can be cast on Nov. 8 at voters’ designated polling places.
Vermont has same-day voter registration. All U.S. citizens who will be 18 or older on Nov. 8, 2022, are eligible to register to vote.
For more information about how to vote in Vermont’s 2022 general election, see VTDigger’s Election Guide.
Read the story on VTDigger here: Vermont has already received over 100,000 mail-in ballots for general election.