After experimenting with this concept in the primary, Vermont has pulled the trigger on full mail-in voting for November’s general election. Or at least partially done so, anyway. Vermont’s Secretary of State announced this week that all registered voters in the state will be receiving a ballot in the mail whether they’re interested in having one or not. We’re not talking about an application for a ballot like they’re doing in Texas. This is the actual ballot. But in an effort to make the system as “flexible” as possible, aspiring voters will be offered a number of different ways of getting their ballot submitted. The resulting confusion will likely be amusing to some, but could potentially lead to a lot of people not getting the chance to vote. And that doesn’t even touch on the potential voter fraud questions. (Associated Press)
Registered Vermont voters will automatically receive a ballot in mail for the November election and may return it by mail or drop it off at their town clerk’s office early, or bring it to the polls on Election Day, Secretary of State Jim Condos says.
Ballots will start to be mailed on Sept. 21 and any voter who does not receive one by Oct. 1 should contact their town clerk, Condos said this week.
“Voting by mail is simple, safe and secure,” he said in a written statement. “Our office has taken the proactive steps to mail a ballot to all active, registered voters so that we can preserve the voting rights of all eligible Vermonters during a pandemic, while protecting the public health by reducing high traffic in-person voting on Election Day.”
Where do we even begin with this? Vermont doesn’t have a history of doing all mail-in voting and aggressively keeping their voter rolls clean like Washington and Oregon. Typically, more than 85% of the state’s residents use in-person, machine voting. When they went to mail-in voting for the primary this year, hundreds of ballots were rejected for errors. The number of people who never received them or didn’t figure out how to properly return them is unknown. So what will happen when the process is massively scaled up to presidential election levels six weeks from now?
Also, assuming their voter rolls are as dismally out of date as many other states that are new to this game, what happens to the people who don’t receive theirs in the mail? Condos claims that they should contact their town clerk if they don’t receive their ballot by October 1st. But what about all of the people who don’t see this announcement? The best they’ll be able to hope for is a provisional ballot at their polling place. (Canceling out the health benefits of not having to go there to vote.)
Also, Vermont voters are being told they don’t have to mail the ballots. They can fill them out and bring them down to their polling place to drop them off in person. But all of these pre-mailed ballots will have to be verified before they are counted, including checking to make sure that the signatures match. Will they be doing that in real-time at the polling places all across the state? How much experience do those volunteers operating the polling places have in such matters? One can only imagine the lines building up as people wait for some blue-haired volunteer with Coke-bottle glasses to finish peering at each signature.
Finally, there’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room that nobody wants to talk about. Condos is telling all Vermonters that “voting by mail is simple, safe and secure.” Apparently he never read the How-To Guide for mail-in voting fraud that the New York Post published last month. Not only has it been done for decades, but people have gone to jail over it, later admitting how they got away with it on a massive scale for years. This is an entirely new system for Vermont so it’s unlikely they have anyone who would even know what to look for if they wanted to prevent ballot harvesting, copying or any of the other schemes that have been employed.
But the die has been cast and it’s clearly too late now. Buckle up, Vermonters. You’ve lived to see interesting times in terms of voting in a presidential election.