I have heard from many Vermonters, particularly those for whom the coronavirus may present the highest risk, who are very concerned about whether the coronavirus could compromise their right to vote. These Vermonters include senior citizens, people with underlying health conditions, and people in marginalized communities who have not had the consistent benefit of good health care. Based on recent news from Wisconsin, where the Republican controlled state supreme court forced voters to proceed with in-person voting during a pandemic, there is precedent for their concern.
In the face of a public health crisis, Vermonters’ health and safety must be our elected leaders’ first priority. But, we must ensure that the right to vote, the foundation upon which our democratic republic stands, is immune to the effects of the coronavirus. Our Secretary of State, Jim Condos, has asked the Governor to approve the measures necessary to mail all Vermonters a ballot for the General Election by October 1st, 2020, to ensure their right to vote is preserved regardless of the coronavirus situation developes.
As reported in today’s story published in VTDigger, Governor Scott has expressed concerns about the institution of a vote by mail system, without clarifying what about Secretary of State Condos’ plan is of concern. Without a plan for how vulnerable Vermonters can cast their ballots if we have a resurgence of COVID19 in the fall, as some project, we potentially force Vermonters to compromise their health to exercise this most fundamental of rights – this is wrong.
When it comes to ensuring Vermonters’ right to vote is preserved, Governor Scott should listen to the experts. In this situation, our Secretary of State, Jim Condos, and his staff are those experts. I urge Governor Scott not to stand in the way of free, fair, and accessible elections, and to approve Secretary of State Condos’ request to move to the vote by mail system necessary to guarantee that Vermonters’ right to vote is immune to the coronavirus.