Legislation

Universal mailed ballot bill to get House vote

Committee adds intended safeguards, gets unanimous consent

By Guy Page

The House Government Operations Committee approved S15, the universal mailed ballot bill, by an 11-0 margin Friday after making changes meant to reduce potential for election fraud. 

S15 is on the current House “notice calendar,” indicating a floor discussion and vote will follow soon, likely the next day. It passed the Senate on March 18 and until Friday was in House Government Operations. 

During committee discussion Friday, Republicans including Reps. Samantha Lefebvre (Orange) and Mark Higley (Lowell) sought more protections for voter integrity. The chair, on the other hand, wanted a unanimous, bi-partisan committee vote, which tends to limit debate on the floor and strengthens the argument for a gubernatorial veto. 

According to Lefebvre, the committee discussed S15 until 6 pm Friday evening before taking a vote. “We debated very hard,” she said. In the end, both “sides” got some of what they wanted – although it remains to be seen if the full House, and then the Senate, will agree with the changes.  

Lefebvre pushed hard on restriction ‘ballot harvesting,’ which allows individuals and advocacy organizations to collect ballots from voters in their homes, and then deliver them to the polls. Although framed as a neighbor-helping-neighbor way to increase voter participation, ballot harvesting has been used by politically-motivated groups to target vulnerable populations (including the elderly at nursing homes) by seeking to influence voters’ decisions before collecting and delivering the ballots. 

“Some members [of Government Operations] were upset and voted no to my ask for no ballot harvesting,” Lefebvre said. “I asked for the limit to be 10, but the chair (fellow Orange County lawmaker Sarah Copeland-Hanzas (D-Bradford) moved it to 25.”

The amended bill [pg. 1476 of House Calendar] also includes a study to determine the training, cost and time of providing more safeguards, Lefebvre said. By January 2023, the Secretary of State must conduct a study including any recommended legislation action on “implementing a voter verification system in Vermont that will not disenfranchise voters and that will verify that ballots have been voted by registered voters, including a report back on the time, training and cost involved in implementing the system or systems.”

Categories: Legislation

7 replies »

  1. Let me see if I understand this properly. We’re going to need a covid vaccine cert. to fly, a picture I.D. to buy beer, and cigarettes, but we, the government (according to Prez, Biden) think it perfectly acceptable to mail ballots willy nilly to any address where someone may live, or not, without any reason to worry that someone who is not the intended recipient of the ballot (s) receive, and voting with them. Why not just do away with all necessity of showing any I.D. for any reason ? What’s right for undocumented immigrants, excuse me, goose, should be good for the gander, shouldn’t it ? Oh what a tangled web we weave………….

  2. This is how the Democrats get their votes. For centuries people have been voting at a polling place…It’s already been proven there has been fraud by doing the mail-in ballots. but hey that doesn’t matter that some people voted in Vermont and in their own state too..
    That dead people get the mail-in ballots and someone voted on it. It’s ok that ballots were collected and filled out.by someone else. it’s ok that the elderly have dishonest people help them fill out the ballots for them but it wasn’t for the people they wanted. BUT hey that’s how the democrats get their votes,

    I’m still waiting for a answer on how Vermont got over 12,000 extra votes over the 343,000 registered voters. there was 355,000 votes counted. But there’s no fraud in Vermont election says Jim Condos.

    I still haven’t heard from Condos about why my husband got a mail-in ballot… Seeing he’s been dead for 17 yrs !!! I know he didn’t request one.
    Our rights to vote in person is being taken away from us…

    • DonnaB- Election procedures are found in Title 17 VSA. One duty that town clerks and the local BCA is required to do is to maintain the town’s voter checklist on a regular basis throughout the year. Town clerks must add, edit, challenge and/or purge voters to be sure the town’s checklist is up to date. Town clerks can immediately purge a voter when the clerk receives (1) written notice of voter registration in another jurisdiction, (2) death certificate or public notice of death, death notice from the Dept. of Health, (3) DMV change of address notification, (4) signed response to a challenge letter or any other signed voter authorization to remove the voter. In larger towns the BCA should meet on a regular basis to review the checklist, or the BCA can authorize the town clerk to send challenge letters based PTRs (Property Transfer Tax Returns), or public notice that the voter no longer resides in the town, etc. Clerks can also remove the voter if the voter signs & returns the response letter or card. If the voter does not respond to a “challenge” letter or card, the law requires town clerks to mark the checklist and instruct entrance checklist officials to ask challenged voters to complete an affidavit of physical domicile (location of dwelling) before voting or being sent an absentee ballot. You can also request to receive (by email) the statewide voter checklist; if you see anyone on the checklist that you believe should not be there, report that to your town clerk or to the SOS. In the case of your husband, check with your town clerk to be sure his name is removed from your town’s checklist. All of this, and other election procedures can be found in the “Election Procedures” booklet prepared by the office of the SOS, the latest of which was produced in 2018, all of which is based on Title 17.

  3. It is beginning to sound like all we have in Montpelier are Democrats, progressives and RHINOS

  4. 90% of on-line first-time claims for unemployment benefits are “fraudulent” – so we are now told – but, our elections are pure as the driven snow! Lies and more lies! S15 is a disaster, but will no doubt be passed by the House, reconciled with the Senate and then signed by our RINO Governor. What’s happened to our beloved Vermont?

  5. How many ways are there for fraud. You send out thousands more ballots than have ever been voted before. Where do the surely unvoted ballots go?

    They will go wherever the folks wanting to tilt the election in their own way want them to go. Steal them out of mail-boxes, buy them from non-voters, trade them for a 6pak, or a joint. Brow beat grandma to vote as the kids want. Or take the ballot from grandma, or from the nursing home, and vote it Democratic or Socialist?

    What happens when the honest citizen reports that he got no ballot in the mail? Vice Versa, What happens when the person who already has a ballot says he never got one, send another.,

    What happens when a person votes and finds out that someone else checked off their name on the Checklist? “But you already voted!”

  6. They serve themselves – don’t you get it? They must stay in position in order to serve themselves – power and money that rules a mind will eventually destroy that mind – stay tuned…

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