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.
There is an increased emphasis on voting by mail this year to help make the process safer during the COVID-19 pandemic. Condos said that for people who want to vote in person, state officials are working to ensure it is as safe as possible.
“The whole goal is to help provide more ways for people to access their ballot and be able to vote,” Condos said during a zoom call with reporters. “It’s something that is very near and dear to our hearts. This is what we are about, exercising democracy.”
Voters across Vermont has been sent postcards that they can send back, requesting a mail in-ballot for the Aug. 11 primary and the November ballot.
For the November general election, all active voters will receive ballots in the mail through a provision in a new voting law passed by the Legislature designed to make voting safer during the pandemic.
Condos says people who receive ballots by mail can return them by mail, drop them off at their town or city clerk’s office or bring them to their polling place on election day. To count, the ballots must reach voters' town of city clerk by 7 p.m. on Election Day.
The voters must sign under penalty of perjury a certificate saying they are who they say they are.
For the primary, people will receive ballots for Vermont's three major parties, Democrat, Republican and Progressive. For the primary, voters may choose only one ballot.
During the primary, Vermonters will choose the parties nominees for statewide offices, the state's lone member of the U.S. House of Representatives, as well as seats in the state Legislature.
Neither of Vermont's two United States Senate seats are up this year.