in the State House of Representatives
on May 11, 2021, by a vote of
Purpose: S.15 contains many corrections and additions to Vermont elections law from how a candidate’s nickname can be used on a ballot to new procedures by which election officials can notify a voter that his/her absentee ballot is defective and provide an opportunity to “cure” the ballot. However, the overriding purpose of this bill is to make permanent the Covid-19 emergency measure of mailing “live” ballots to all active voters on the statewide checklist regardless of request.
Analysis: S.15 would turn Vermont into one of six states that relies primarily on vote-by-mail as a system for running elections. The major difference is that those other states all employ some type of voter ID for absentee ballots such as signature verification, a driver’s license number, last for digits of a Social Security number, etc. Vermont would have no such security measures, meaning that election officials will have no way to independently verify if a mailed out ballot was actually filled out and returned by the voter to whom the vote is being attributed. Additionally, in the event a ballot is cast fraudulently by mail and the legitimate voter shows up at the polls to vote, given thirty days of early processing of absentee ballots, there is no way to remove the fraudulent vote from the final count. This is a system ripe for large and small-scale voter fraud.
Although S.15 contains a provision calling for the Secretary of State’s Office to do a study into how and at what cost security measures might be added to the system, the study is not due until 2023, whereas an election would take place in 2022 with no security in place. This is putting the cart before the horse.
Those voting YES believe the potential benefits of an all-mail voting system and convenience are worth the potential risk of fraud, which they believe does not exist in significant amounts.
Those voting NO believe it is irresponsible to have a voting system in which the overwhelming number of ballots counted (76% in 2020) cannot be independently verified by election officials as valid or fraudulent. Moreover, the supposed benefits of increased turn-out and greater minority participation are not born out by statistical fact. States that have moved to all-mail voting saw flat or declined overall participation in the election following the change, and the two primary examples of vote-by-mail states are in the top five worst for racial disparities in voting according to the 2020 census: Oregon (#2) and Colorado (#5),
As Recorded in the House Journal, Tuesday, May 11, 2021: “…Shall the bill be read a third time?, was decided in the affirmative. Yeas, 119. Nays, 30. (Read the Journal, p. 1032-1059)
Watch the floor debate on YouTube.
How They Voted
(Click on your Rep’s name to send an email)
Sally Achey (R - Middletown Springs) – NO
William Lippert (D – Hinesburg) – YES
Curtis McCormack (D – Burlington) – YES
Kirk White (P/D - Bethel) – YES
Rebecca White (D – Hartford) – YES
Dane Whitman (D - Bennington) – YES
Terri Lynn Williams (R - Granby) – NO
Theresa Wood (D – Waterbury) – YES
David Yacovone (D – Morristown) – YES
Michael Yantachka (D – Charlotte) – YES