S.15 – AN ACT RELATING TO CORRECTING DEFECTIVE BALLOTS, STRONG AMENDMENT
in the State House of Representatives
on May 12, 2021, by a vote of
Purpose: The key provision in the underlying bill, S.15, is to make permanent the practice of mailing “live” absentee ballots to all active voters on the statewide checklist regardless of a request by the voter, starting with the 2022 general election. There is a provision in S.15 requiring the Secretary of State’s Office to study and report on options for incorporating absentee ballot security measures into the process, but this report is not due until 2023 – after an unsecure election has already have taken place. The Strong Amendment would delay implementation of vote-by-mail elections until after the SOS report on ballot security is complete, thus putting the horse before the cart where it belongs.
Analysis: Testimony from state and local election officials revealed the following facts about Vermont’s absentee ballot security:
- Town Clerks and the Director of Elections testified that there is NO WAY to determine if an absentee ballot was filled out and returned by the voter to whom the vote is being attributed.
- Town Clerks and the Director of Elections testified if someone gets hold of someone else’s ballot, or multiple ballots, fills them out and sends them in fraudulently, those votes will almost certainly be processed and counted.
- Town Clerks and the Director of Elections testified that the only indication a fraudulent vote may have been cast is if an absentee ballot is received, and a voter shows up at the polls and disputes the validity of the absentee ballot. However:
a. In a high turn-out election as many as 35% voters choose not to vote — their votes can be stolen without possibility of detection.
b. There is no way to independently verify that the voter did not actually send in their absentee ballot and is in fact voting twice. And,
c. If the voter is telling the truth, they will be allowed to cast a legitimate ballot, but with 30 days of early processing of absentee ballots, there is no way to remove the fraudulent vote from the final count.
4. All of the states that currently do vote-by-mail have some sort of voter ID provision for absentee ballots whereby election officials can independently verify that the ballot was filled out by the voter to whom the votes are being attributed.
Those voting YES on the Strong Amendment believe it is irresponsible to execute vote-by-mail elections before options for ballot security provisions are even studied by the SOS Office.
Those voting NO on the Strong Amendment believe absentee ballot security measures are not necessary in Vermont, and the “honor system” is enough to ensure election integrity.
Recorded in the House Journal, May 12, 2021: “…Shall the House amend its proposal of amendment as offered by Rep. Strong and others?, was decided in the negative. Yeas, 39. Nays, 99. (Read the Journal, p. 1116 - 1122)
Watch the floor debate on YouTube.
How They Voted
(Click on your Rep’s name to send an email)
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – YES
William Lippert (D – Hinesburg) – NO
Curtis McCormack (D – Burlington) – ABSENT
Kirk White (P/D - Bethel) – NO
Rebecca White (D – Hartford) – NO
Dane Whitman (D - Bennington) – NO
Terri Lynn Williams (R - Granby) – YES
Theresa Wood (D – Waterbury) – NO
David Yacovone (D – Morristown) – NO
Michael Yantachka (D – Charlotte) – NO
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