Williston leads state in early voting

By Jason Starr

Observer staff

More than 50 percent of Williston’s registered voters (3,920 out of 7,727, as of Tuesday) have returned completed ballots to the Town Clerk’s office since ballots were mailed to every voter in September.

A town-by-town tracker compiled by the Community News Service — a first-year initiative of UVM’s Reporting and Documentary Storytelling Program — shows that Williston has the highest rate of completed and returned ballots out of all Vermont municipalities.

Statewide, about 148,000 people have submitted voted ballots as of Tuesday. With three weeks to go until election day, Nov. 3, that amount already far surpasses early voting in the last presidential election in 2016, when a then-record 95,203 early ballots were cast.

“We suspect that this is going to be a dramatic increase in voter turnout,” Secretary of State Jim Condos said.

Williston’s Board of Civil Authority began opening ballots and tallying votes last Friday. Another tallying session is planned for this Friday, and a third on Oct. 30, Town Clerk Sarah Mason said.

Ballots must be received at the Williston Town Clerk’s office by Nov. 3 to be counted. Mason advises voters to mail completed ballots to her office at least two days before election day to be sure they arrive on time. The ballot drop-off box in the parking lot behind Town Hall is also available until noon Nov. 2.

In-person voting will take place at the National Guard Armory on Williston Road from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Nov. 3. Voters should take the ballots they received in the mail to the polls, otherwise they will need to fill out a sworn statement saying they haven’t previously voted to be given a new ballot. Poll workers will have a checklist of voters who have already submitted completed ballots. 

With early ballots pre-tallied, and election day ballots tallied after the polls close, Mason expects to have local election results by about 9 p.m. on election day.

“We will have results at the end of the night like we always do,” she said.

Nationally, results of the presidential election may not be available for several days as some states do not allow early ballots to be tallied until election day.