Scott wants mail-in ballots for Town Meeting

Gov. Phil Scott wants the Legislature to allow mail-in voting for Town Meeting, he said at his press conference today.

In response to a question posed by VT Digger’s Anne Wallace Allen about adopting mail-in balloting going forward, Gov. Scott answered: “I believe this crisis is going to be with us for the next 3-4 months…..we should prepare for some sort of mail-in ballot procedure for Town Meeting. We’ve had very low voter turnout for Town Meeting, this could be a way to bolster that.”

The Legislature didn’t like the idea when he presented it this year, Scott said. 

Allen pressed for an answer of universal balloting post-Covid. “If we can move forward and try it on Town Meeting day, that would tell us a lot whether we could pursue this further,” Scott said. “But so far so good.”

Covid curfews are up to municipalities – In response to 11 ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks, Gov. Scott would strongly prefer to avoid curfews on public gatherings, in contrast to a statewide 9:30 pm curfew and size limits imposed Monday by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker

At the beginning of today’s press conference, Gov. Scott said his administration later today would issue “recommendations” about crowd size limits at social gatherings. “We’re seeing cases turn into clusters at social gatherings,” Scott said. The Central Vermont hockey outbreak took place in social events, not on the ice, he said. “These are not yet being issued as mandates. “

Vermont Daily asked Gov. Scott: “Gov. Baker in Massachusetts Monday restricted home social gatherings to 10 and required a 9:30 pm curfew on public gatherings which some bar-restaurant people worry is the deathknell of their industry. If you make these recommendations mandates, and would it include a curfew and police power to levy fines, as Gov. Baker has done?”

His administration allows municipalities to enforce curfews, Scott said. Burlington imposed but then cancelled its curfew. “They can utilize this tool if they think it’s necessary. I’d rather not mandate this, it’s an advisory at this point.”

At present, there are four Vermonters hospitalized, three in intensive care units. No one has died of Covid-19 since July. Levine noted that nationally “we’re in a new stage of the pandemic,” with lockdowns occurring in Europe and, in the USA this week, two consecutive days of positive test cases over 100,000. 

Hospital retrieves some patient schedules lost in cyberattack – UVM Medical Center has retrieved some patient schedules following last week’s cyberattack, but full retrieval “is expected to take some time,” the hospital said in a press release yesterday.

At his press conference today, Gov. Scott didn’t blame the hospital. “We have cyberattacks almost every day within state governemnt, in the economy,” Scott said. “From my standpoint they’ve done everything right. It was one of those fluke things that just happens.”

UVMMC issued this press release at 3 pm yesterday:

“Our IT team was able to successfully retrieve some appointment schedules overnight for the University of Vermont Medical Center, Central Vermont Medical Center, Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital and Porter Medical Center. We will continue working to retrieve additional schedules across the Network. In the meantime, patients should continue to try and confirm their appointments until all schedules are retrieved. Patients should also continue to bring medication lists and any other documentation, such as after-visit summaries from previous appointments.

“Lab samples continue to be processed with results sent to physicians as quickly as possible. We expect results will continue to be delayed 24 to 48 hours going forward.

“Our work with the Vermont Army National Guard to clear thousands of end-user computers and devices is ongoing. This process is expected to take some time.”

The FBI has not yet responded to Vermont Daily’s inquiry about the possible use of ransomware in the UVMMC attack.

Categories: Covid-19

7 replies »

  1. Town meeting is not only a vote! we hear reports, we question our elected and appointed leaders, we make motions, motions are voted,, budgets are discussed, , thanks are offered for good work, citizens support motions or candidates, We vote items from the floor, hands are counted. The Moderator keeps us from going astray of our powers.

    Town meeting is Democracy personified – it is the opposite of bureaucracy where all decisions are made from afar. It is LOCAL citizen control, something under attack quite regularly lately.

    many items on town meeting day are by secret ballot, properly. The entire town can vote for some items – all well.

    In times when the town offices are turning into professionals, and acting like law offices, We need Town meetings to communicate
    about Town Dealings.

    People motivated, and hopefully informed, are be able to request absentee ballots, already are able to vote absentee.

    Let’s not abandon or screw up such a good thing, Doug Richmond, Underhill

  2. Mail in is possibly a good thing for those unable to attend Town Meeting, especially in towns that insist on holding it during the workday which prevents many from being able to attend. It seems like such a small number of residents make all the local meeting decisions. I am not okay with mass mailing of ballots, but absentee ballots when requested by the voter are fine. My mass mailed ballot is still roaming around the country somewhere! I had to request a replacement ballot as mine is still lost in the mail! The primary ballot I requested was delivered but not my presidential election ballot.

    When Vermont was an agricultural farm state it made sense to have town meetings at 9 am . There was plenty of time to milk the cows, get breakfast and clean up for the trip to town. It was a special social event as well, with an enjoyable meal and social time before heading home for the afternoon milking. But now most work during business hours and cannot afford to take the time off to attend town meeting. Hourly workers do not always get paid for holidays so making Town Meeting Day a holiday would not be the answer. Towns need to move the meetings to evening or weekends to allow more people to attend during non business hours. Currently my town does have ballots for some decisions but not all.

  3. What a great idea Guy, because the mail in ballot , you know, the ‘thing’ worked so well in the presidential election!

  4. At long last a vote by everyone on the budget instead of just the elites that attend town meeting. Can you imagine Australian balloting on school budgets as well?

  5. The idea of mail in ballots is in my opinion a double edged sword. In the town where I live (and I suspect some other towns) people of a certain political persuasion  have been able to exercise control over the process of Town Meeting by packing a very limited sized venue with like minded people. Calais holds Town Meeting in the school, which has a capacity of about 200 people. There are about 1400 registered voters in the town. 
     Every year there is a contentious, warned item for a “charitable contribution” to the Kellogg Hubbard Library. For the past 20 years or so, (since the library’s addition) the Town of Calais has been sending a “contribution”  (I refer to it as “tribute”) to this Library. At Town Meeting a couple of years ago a citizen asked about submitting a lesser amount (I believe it was $15,000) than the amount asked for by the Library ($27,000). A representative from the Library that was at Town Meeting, stated that it was the full amount, (which allows any resident of the town to use the library) or nothing. If we go to a mail in ballot for Town Meeting there is little doubt in my mind that this “charitable contribution” will go bye, bye ! Yeh !!!!    
    I am sure that there are other local issues that would be likewise affected, and in some cases that may not be such a bad thing, but mail in ballots on a national or even State wide scale ? I hope to God we never do this again ! The debacle (a mail in election) that this country was just put through for the supposed safety of all, given the COVID epidemic, was at best a learning experience, and quite possibly given the known, proven ways of mitigating the dangers, a contrived situation to fix an election, and defraud the country of a duly elected president. Politicians are in my opinion, for the most part, a sorry lot, out for personal gain, and not to be trusted any more that you have too. To change processes for an election with the ramifications of a presidential election is ludicrous.

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