Vermont’s early voting for local, statewide and national candidates is now under way.
It’s estimated that roughly one quarter of all voters will cast early ballots. And town clerks are predicting the rate could go as high as 50% in some communities.
VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:
(Sound from Montpelier’s City Office)
"There’s your ballot you want to make sure that you fill out and sign and date the bottom of this inside envelope…you can either mail it back in or drop it off – ok – thank you thank you."
The early voting system is very popular in the city of Montpelier.
Under state law, individuals can request a ballot within 30 days of an election, and on this first day of voting, city officials are responding to more than 400 requests for an early ballot.
Charlotte Hoyt is the Montpelier City Clerk:
(Hoyt)"We’ve been busy this morning…people coming in to either take them out or wanting them mailed to a family member plus on the phone it will be that way until November 4th."
Hoyt is predicting that nearly half of all votes
tabulated on Election Day in the city will be early
ballots. She thinks it helps boost voter turnout:
(Hoyt)"It’s good for the voters it’s a lot of extra work but I think it’s important that we get people’s votes so whatever we can do to get the voters out then that’s important."
Vermont’s political parties recognize the importance of early ballot voters but not all of them are enthusiastic about this system.
Morgan Daybell is the director of the Progressive Party. He thinks the early voting process is a good thing:
(Daybell)"I think it’s an opportunity primary to expand the number of people who vote especially after the low turnout of the primary election in the past year I think we really need to be encouraging anything that it increases voter turnout."
Democratic Party spokesperson Liz Saxe also strongly supports the early ballot system because it makes it easier for people to vote:
(Saxe)"I think that’s a really good thing and it strengthens our democracy so it’s absolutely something that we’re very interested in promoting."
Republican Party chairman Rob Roper isn’t a big fan of early voting. He thinks it favors incumbents:
(Roper)"Because a lot of people start paying attention later on in the process and that gives an advantage to incumbents who already have the name recognition but a lot of challengers depend on this last month of intensive campaigning to get their message and their names out to the voters."
Town clerks say it’s important for voters to understand that once a person formally returns an early ballot, that ballot is considered to be their official vote and an individual can’t request a second ballot if they change their mind about supporting a particular candidate.
For VPR News I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.