At his Friday news conference, Gov. Phil Scott revealed that he wants Vermont lawmakers to allow universal mail-in voting for Town Meeting Day this coming March…and possibly for all future elections in the Green Mountain State.
Referring to the coronavirus pandemic, the governor said, “I believe this crisis is going to be with us at least for the next three to four months, well into March, and I would say that we should prepare for some sort of mail-in ballot procedure for Town Meeting.”
However, COVID-19 wasn’t the only issue on the governor’s mind. He was also thinking of Vermont’s record-breaking general election turnout and hoping that it can carry over to local elections on March 2.
“We’ve had very low voter turnout for Town Meeting and this may be a way to bolster that,” Gov. Scott said. “If we had this much participation in this general election, possibly this could work for Town Meeting Day and some of the municipal votes and school votes as well. We advocated for that; (the legislature) didn’t take us up on that during the last session, but we’ll come forward with another try early in January.”
This past April, Secretary of State Jim Condos proposed mailing a November ballot to every Vermont registered voter as a coronavirus precaution. The governor didn’t want a decision about that to be made until after the August primary, which Condos said didn’t allow for enough lead time.
Lawmakers broke the stalemate in June, passing a bill that gave Condos the authority to move ahead with universal mail-in voting while allowing every polling place to remain open for those who wished to vote in person. Scott allowed the measure to become law without his signature.
“We’ll reflect on what happened in this general election and, if we can, move forward and try it on Town Meeting Day,” the governor said.
Scott also referred to the prospect of universal mail-in voting in all future elections as an “interesting question” which his administration will consider. However, he believes Town Meeting Day needs to be at the heart of the matter for now.
“That will tell us a lot as to whether we can pursue this further, but so far, so good,” he said.
Local 22 & Local 44 News also asked the Secretary of State’s office Friday afternoon if Condos was available for comment. As of this writing, no one had replied.