Vermont Republican governor signs bill to make voting easier

Republican Gov. Phil Scott signed into law Monday a bill that will make it easier for Vermonters to vote in general elections.

The new law will send general election ballots to all active voters ahead of the election, making permanent a policy used last year during the pandemic.

In the system which was used last November during the pandemic, voters will be able to cast ballots by mail, take them to polling places to vote early or cast their ballots in-person on election day.

The law also provides a mechanism for correcting defective ballots and makes other changes to the state’s voting laws.

Scott said he didn’t think the law went far enough and he urged lawmakers when they return in January to extend the provisions of the law to primary elections, local elections and school budget votes.

“I’m signing this bill because I believe making sure voting is easy and accessible, and increasing voter participation, is important,” Scott said in a statement.

“Around the country we are witnessing an assault on voting rights, as state legislatures use conspiracy theories and lies as cover to restrict the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of American voters,” Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos said in a statement.

“Here in the Green Mountain State we chose a different path,” Condos said.

Condos said the new law represents the largest expansion of Vermont voter access in decades, making Vermont one of the most voter friendly states in the country.

Condos believes expanding the mail-in voting system to elections beyond general elections right now is too complicated. For example, in primary elections voters are provided ballots for all major parties. They choose one to vote, and must return the other, unvoted ballots in addition to their voted ballot.

He said election officials would work with lawmakers to further expand the voting policy as appropriate.