Early Voting

Vt. Voting Already Nears Half of 2016's Number

More than 159,000 ballots had already been returned by Tuesday—two weeks ahead of Election Day

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Two weeks ahead of Election Day 2020, Vermont has already seen roughly half the number of votes cast as it did in the last presidential contest.

That follows the office of Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos sending ballots by mail to all active registered voters, in an attempt to keep crowds down on Election Day as a COVID-19 safety measure. Clerks sent out additional ballots in cases of less active voters or other situations.

The total number of ballots sent was approximately 450,000, Condos said.

Just over 159,000 had been returned by Tuesday, the state's top voting official added. That's roughly half the 320,000 Vermonters who voted in 2016, Condos said.

Williston Town Clerk Sarah Mason said her ballot drop box has been busy.

"Twenty to 25 an hour is not unheard of," she said.

Between the drive-through dropbox for town residents behind the town hall, and the U.S. mail, Mason has been checking off a few hundred ballots a day as returned, she told NECN and NBC10 Boston Tuesday.

"It's my duty to vote," said Williston voter Bernie Ferenc, after dropping off her ballot Tuesday.

Ron Paquette, another Williston voter, dropped off his daughter's ballot. She's a college student in Massachusetts, Paquette said.

Paquette noted that he prefers to vote the old-fashioned way on Election Day, which is still happening.

When asked what factors would be motivating his decision-making at the polling place, Paquette responded, "I would say it has a lot to do with the way COVID has been handled or not been handled."

"COVID is just part of the whole big picture," said another Williston voter, Nancy Brogna. "It's more about what you're looking for after COVID, you know?"

Condos called the range of voting options in Vermont key to a healthy and safe process during the pandemic.

"Your vote is your voice—exercise it," Condos said.

Condos told NECN and NBC10 Boston that with two weeks to go until Election Day, just about half the total number of Vermont voters from 2016 have already cast ballots in this election.

Vermonters who are choosing mail are urged to send them back by this Saturday, Condos said.

With 28.1 million votes already cast, nearly five times the number of people have voted so far in the 2020 election than at this time in 2016. NBCLX storyteller Chase Cain explains what this surge in early voting means for the presidential race.

"The more people who participate in our democracy, the better it is," Condos added.

The secretary of state's office even enlisted a famous Vermont resident, Jonathan Goldsmith—the actor from those "Most Interesting Man in The World" beer commercials—to remind folks to seal ballots in the correct envelope and sign the certificate on the front of the envelopes.

Mason, the Williston clerk, said she is now trying to figure out what the rush of early voters means for her need for volunteers Nov. 3 to handle in-person voting.

Mason and Condos reminded Vermonters they can still register to vote up to and even on Election Day itself.

More information on voting in Vermont can be found on the secretary of state's website.

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