Secretary of state Jim Condo (D) made a temporary policy change ahead of the 2020 general election to mail all active registered voters a ballot amidst the pandemic. Record turnout ensured: 73.3% of registered voters turned out, with 75% of those voters choosing to return their ballots via mail. Vermont also ranked in the top ten highest turnout states nationally.
Vermont voters strongly supported permanent reform: a statewide poll conducted in February, 2021 found 9 out of 10 people supported making voting as easy as possible; 68% of Vermonters wanted to keep voting by mail.
In addition to mailing all registered voters a ballot, Vermont’s policy includes postage-paid return envelopes for voters to return their ballot in general elections, and also provides for secure outdoor drop boxes under 24-hour surveillance. The bill also implements a ballot cure process for voters to fix minor mistakes (such as a missing signature). Lastly, the legislation directs the Secretary of State’s office to study voting access and ways mail ballots may be used in future municipal and primary elections, and submit a report by January 2023. Governor Phil Scott (R) has expressed support for expanding the legislation to primary and local elections.
Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), a nonprofit founded in 1972, is the in-state coalition that supported the reform along with local businesses and allies. For nearly 50 years, VPIRG has brought the voice of average Vermont citizens to public policy debates concerning the environment, health care, consumer protection, and democracy.
The National Vote at Home Institute and RepresentUs also provided policy expertise and strategic support to the campaign, and continue to play a critical role for in-state partners like VPIRG in advancing reform.