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Vermont Secretary of State explains voting process through next week’s primary

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Pat Bradley
/
WAMC
Voting cubicles

Early voting is ongoing for Vermont’s August 9th primary. This week Secretary of State Jim Condos outlined what to expect through Tuesday and how counting is accomplished after the polls close.

This year there are competitive primaries in four of Vermont’s six statewide races, the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. All seats in the legislature are up for election and many have primaries along with races for judges, sheriffs, high bailiffs and state’s attorneys.

Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat who is retiring at the end of his sixth term, says the August primary and the November general elections are once-in-a-generation elections.

“There has not been this many open statewide and federal seats at any time in recent history and certainly not in my tenure as Secretary of State."

Condos outlined what voters can expect whether they plan to vote in person, plus options for early voters who haven’t returned their ballots yet.

“First, it is important to remember that the August primary is really three separate elections in one day. It's a Republican, a Democrat and a Progressive election. It's essentially a nominating process for each of Vermont's major parties where voters have direct say in the major party candidates who will appear on the November general election. In June we issued a postcard ballot request reminder to all Vermont voters describing all the tools voters have available in order to utilize the Vermont no-excuse 45 day early vote period.”

Ballots can be delivered directly to town clerks, placed in a secure drop box, or a voter can bring it to the polls on election day.

The Vermont Legislature passed Act 60 in 2021 to increase voter access and participation. Provisions include, for the first time, the ability for voters to cure, in-other-words correct, defective early ballots.

Secretary of State Elections Division Director Will Senning explains that changing your mind is not a valid reason.

“They are all focused around the manner in which the ballots were returned, not anything about the way that the voter voted on the ballot itself. And so those are that the certificate envelope that the voted ballot goes in is not signed. That's a very common one. That the voted ballot is not in that certificate envelope when it's returned. And then in the case of the primary that the two unvoted ballots haven't been returned along with the voted ballot.”

Condos emphasized that numbers reported on election night are unofficial.

“The town clerks in Vermont by law have 48 hours to review, to verify and certify their election results before they submit them to our office. Official results are then certified at the statewide canvass seven days after the election, which is represented by the three major parties and me. Keep in mind that recounts may slow down the results.”

As of late Monday, 52,120 voters had requested early ballots and 25, 970 had been returned to town clerks.

Polling sites open on Tuesday August 9th between 5 and 10 a.m. depending on the town. All polls close at 7 p.m.