Polls opened at 7 a.m. in Vermont, but before they did, tens of thousands of the state’s registered voters had already cast their ballots, thanks to the state’s universal mail-in voting.

Late last week, Secretary of State Jim Condos said nearly 151,000 ballots had been returned to clerk’s offices’ in Vermont. By Election Day morning, that number had grown to more than 171,581 mailed ballots – just over as third of registered voters.

On Friday, Winooski City Clerk Jenny Willingham said 23% of the town’s registered voters had already mailed in their completed ballots. In Colchester, Town Clerk Julie Graeter said just over 4,000 ballots , or about half the ballots mailed out, had been returned via mail or the town drop box.

“We’re asking all voters to bring any absentee ballots to the polls,” she said. “We also have Chittenden Solid Waste District elections, so those ballots are requested only.”

Graeter said Vermont has same day voter registration, so residents not yet registered to vote can do so at the polls before filling out their ballot.

“Come on in to the polling location tomorrow, we’ll get you registered, we’ll get you a ballot,” she explained. “Anybody who wants to vote in person who has their ballot in their hand already, bring it with you, that’ll make things a lot easier.”

Condos said universal mail-in balloting has eliminated many barriers to voting, especially for those who have needed transportation to vote in the past.

“Your vote is your voice, exercise it,” Condos said. “We’ve done everything we can to make it more accessible for you, and at the same time protecting the integrity of our election process.”