Good to know but extremely sad that your office hasn’t been given enforcement authority…
Board of Listers, Chair
Town of Fairfield
The Sec of State’s office has received a few emails and calls expressing concern that two volunteers for the T.J. Donovan campaign had signed and submitted absentee ballot request forms for voters that now allege that he or she did not authorize the campaign to request an absentee ballot.
We received similar complaints in the 2006, 2008 and 2010 elections about similar practices by other candidates or political parties.
One of the strategies employed by some political parties and candidates is to have volunteers call voters at home to see if the voter is planning to vote; and to ask if the voter would like to have an absentee ballot request submitted on his or her behalf.
Sometimes these calls are made 6 to 8 weeks before the ballot requests are submitted to the Town Clerks.
However, whenever an allegation about unauthorized ballot requests have been made in past election cycles (and in the current year), we make it a practice to contact the candidate or party, and the volunteer who signed the disputed forms, to remind them about the requirements of the law, and suggest that they keep careful records in the event that a voter complains to a state’s attorney or the Office of the Attorney General - who are authorized to investigate and prosecute allegations regarding non compliance with election law requirements. I also suggest that they provide detailed training for volunteers.
Our office has no authority to investigate or enforce - only to administer and educate!
Our office has discussed these issues with legislative committees in the past. In 2007, the legislature made the policy decision to amend section 2548 to allow a voter who lost or destroyed an absentee ballot, or who said he or she did not authorize anyone to request an absentee ballot, to complete a sworn affidavit of lost ballot and be given another ballot to cast his or her vote. The legislature chose not to amend the law to require a voter to sign an absentee ballot request.
If you have concerns regarding this issue, I recommend that you contact the Office of the Attorney General or a state’s attorney and/or that you contact your legislators to ask them to consider changes to the statute regarding absentee ballot requests.
Best Regards, Kathy
Kathleen C. Scheele
Director of Elections and Campaign Finance
Vermont Office of the Secretary of State
128 State Street, Montpelier, VT 05633-1101
http://www.sec.state.vt.us, Click on Elections