Early Voting Begins For Vermont's August 14 Primary

Jun 29, 2018

Early voting for the Aug. 14 Vermont primary election is underway.

Voters now have just over six weeks to cast a ballot in the major party contests for statewide and legislative races.

Find information for voters — including more about early voting — at the Vermont Secretary of State's website.

Here in Vermont, you have 45 days before the primary and general elections to vote.

The national average is 19 days.

It's a big enough difference that the National Conference of State Legislatures notes Vermont has one of the most generous early voting laws of any state.

Secretary of State Jim Condos says he strongly supports Vermont's early voting system because many people are busy during the summer months and the system gives them a lot of flexibility to vote.

"A lot of people during that six-weeks period will be on vacation or whatever," Condos said of the extra-long window, "and this gives them an opportunity to ensure that they can cast their ballot."

And Condos says there are many ways for a voter to receive an early ballot.

"The beauty of it is that people can actually request a ballot from their town clerk by phone, by email, they can walk in and vote, they can do it online," Condos said. "The only caveat is that all the ballots must be mailed back to the town clerk and be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day."

Find VPR's Campaign 2018 coverage here.

Montpelier City Clerk John Odum is also a strong supporter of the early voting system.

"You make it as easy as possible for people to exercise this, you know, fundamental right, and I think that's a good thing," Odum said. "We should be expanding access to as many voters as possible."

Odum thinks early voting helps increase voter turnout when there's a race people care about. He says the town meeting presidential primary in 2016 is a perfect example. That's when Sen. Bernie Sanders was running in Vermont's Democratic presidential primary election.

"We had an enormous turnout of early ballots; 45 or so percent of the votes that we tallied in this office were early," said Odum. "I have got to believe that's a lot of people who simply weren't going to come to the polls or weren't going to make it."

Condos says voters need to remember that once a person has returned a ballot to the town clerk, they have officially voted. This means they can't request another ballot, even if there's an unexpected development in a particular race.