Thank you Carol,
That is exactly correct. Cassie, please note that the bill is written to permit us to adopt the processes if necessary, they are not in place immediately when it passes. This list only provides examples of the kind of measures that could be adopted, and it is not necessarily exhaustive. My sincere hope is to not need to use any of these measures, and that we can conduct our elections as usual in the Fall. Sadly, that seems less and less likely all the time, and the language in the bill makes sure we have the flexibility to respond to whatever conditions we are faced with for the rest of the year. The bill requires us to consult with and get the agreement of the Governor’s office to move forward with any of these changes.
Also please remember there are many local elections still happening this spring. I have spoken with many of your colleagues over the past few weeks who have elections coming up who are pleading with me to allow them to adopt some of the processes outlined in the bill – particularly the option to mail every voter a ballot. We need the flexibility to implement some of these options where necessary for local elections across the state this spring while simultaneously preparing for what we may need to do in the Fall.
If any of the processes we implement in the bill involve additional costs on the towns, those costs will be paid for by the state, using Federal money that has been authorized for costs associated with response to the coronavirus outbreak. This will be especially necessary if a ballot is to be mailed to every voter, to cover the postage and printing costs that will come with that.
The waiver of the signature gathering requirement does go into effect upon the passage of the bill. This is necessary right now. Candidates have already begun gathering signatures for the August Primary, they are due in May, and it simply is not safe to ask people to collect signatures at this time. We shortened the time period for filing candidate paperwork in an effort to reduce the number of potential candidates that may take advantage of this relaxed requirement. We do not take this lightly and considered many other potential options. The bottom line is that protecting those who wish to run for office this year from putting themselves at a great unnecessary risk was more important right now than the possibility of ending up with a larger number of candidates than usual on the Primary ballot.
Again, looking forward to the Fall, I hope to deviate from the normal process as little as possible, and use as few of these measures as are necessary. With that said, I think it is important for all of us election administrators to begin accepting that it may not be business as usual this year. We will be providing as much support, training, and monetary assistance as possible to support all clerks in implementing any of these new, temporary processes. We need to work together to solve what is a very difficult problem and ensure that we can protect the health and safety of Vermonters while still carrying out our elections.
As usual, I will be in regular contact with the clerks as we move forward. Please contact me directly at [log in to unmask] if you have further questions about this at this time.
Director of Elections and Campaign Finance
Vermont Secretary of State’s Office
128 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05633-1101
(802) 828 – 0175
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The hope is not to need any of these provisions, but to have the language in place in case we find ourselves still closed down and quarantined in a few months when petitions start being due, or when ballots need to be available to the public.
We’re keeping our fingers crossed.
Carolyn S. Dawes CVC CVT
Barre City Clerk/Treasurer
6 N. Main Street, Suite 6
PO Box 418
Barre, VT 05641
Did anyone happen to notice the amendment to H. 742 yesterday on the Senate calendar? No petitions necessary? Mail absentee ballots to EVERY registered voter? Drive up, drop-off voting? Extending voting hours on Election Day? This all seems a bit premature for August. Not to mention the burden it puts on our very small offices.
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find us on the web at http://benningtonvt.org/departments/town-clerk/
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