‘The polls will look very different this year’
By Sarah Mason
Williston Town Clerk
The Vermont Secretary of State’s office has sent a postcard to residents with information about how to request an absentee ballot, if you would like one for the upcoming elections. Voters who have already requested an absentee ballot via a phone call, email, My Voter Page or a paper request can disregard the postcard.
To use the postcard, fill in your information, select which election(s) you would like an absentee ballot for and place it back in the mail.
Vermont has offered early vote, absentee vote and vote-by-mail for many years, whereas some states are just getting comfortable and up to speed with the process. Vermont is also what is called a “no excuse” absentee vote state: You do not need to be at work or out of town or ill to be able to vote early or by absentee (which is the same thing).
During this unsettling time, it is imperative to give voters a safe option to cast their vote. The Secretary of State’s office was quick to prepare and plan for the Aug. 11 primary and the Nov. 3 general election, and secured funds to get postage-paid envelopes in both directions for both elections. It has also secured a supply of personal protective equipment and surveyed every town clerk as to what their needs might be for August and November.
Everyone is encouraged to use the vote-by-mail option, even if you are young and healthy and able to come to the polls. The polls will look very different this year. We have been instructed to limit our poll workers and the number of voters in at any one time. You can expect to wait in a line, outside, 6 feet apart, and be allowed into the Armory as space becomes available.
Some other polling place guidelines this year: Wear your own mask. If you forget, you will be provided one. Bring your own pen. If you forget, you will be provided one. No groups. No kids. No dogs. No restrooms. There will be one direction flow of traffic from the front door to the back door of the Armory.
Already, more than 500 mail-in ballots have been cast, which is more than any election before. Ballots are separated from regular mail, marked with special election mail tags and never leave the Williston post office. The Post Office staff has been incredibly helpful to work with and are an important part of making this all work.
Voters must fill in and sign the certificate envelope for your voted ballot or it will not be counted. You must return two unvoted ballots in the other envelope as well, or your voted ballot will not be counted.