Voters across Vermont have requested more than 10 times as many mail-in ballots as were requested at the same point in 2016, the last presidential election year, the state’s top election official said Monday.
Speaking ahead of the Aug. 11 primary election, Secretary of State Jim Condos’ office said that as of Monday afternoon just under 82,000 voters had requested early ballots compared with just under 8,000 in 2016, the last presidential election year.
In 2018, a non-presidential election year, at this point the number was 3,560, Condos said.
Vermonters have received postcards in the mail with several voting options provided. Voters can vote online, visit their local Town or City Clerk, or request an early-absentee ballot. Voters can return their ballots in-person, by mail or at the polls by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
Condos said vote-by-mail has a long tradition in Vermont, and thousands of people vote by mail in statewide elections, especially in presidential-election years.
“Including our citizens living oversees and out military service members serving our country abroad,” Condos said. “In fact, they’ve been doing this since the Civil War,” said Condos.
Condos said voter fraud is highly unlikely. ”Data from the non-partisan Brennan Center for Justice demonstrates that a voter is more likely to be struck by lightning than they are to commit mail-voting fraud,” said Condos.
In South Burlington, City Clerk Donna Kinville said it’s been challenging to keep up with the number of absentee ballot requests. She says she and her staff need to cross each returned ballot off their lists, alphabetize them and put them in order them by district.
“It’s been a huge undertaking,” she said.
“Right now we are just completely slammed with absentee ballot requests.”
Voting in person will continue, Condos said, and polling locations will make infection-prevention kits — hand sanitizer, wipes and face masks — available for workers and voters.
“We’re also issuing face shields to the polling locations as well,” said Condos.
Condos said locations will be equipped with these kits in time for the general election. He also stated votings may be conducted outdoors or as a drive-by.
To check the status of your ballot, go to http://mvp.vermont.gov as opposed to calling the office.