Be sure to request local ballots
ADDISON COUNTY — Though registered voters in Addison County should have received their General Election ballots in the mail recently, they’ll need to reach out to their town clerk or plan on voting in person in order to vote on local issues — such as bond referenda or resolutions — this election season.
Last year, Gov. Phil Scott signed into effect a universal mail-in voting law for general elections in Vermont. The law requires local officials to mail ballots to registered voters ahead of the General Election, but it doesn’t include local items.
So, voters won’t automatically receive local ballots in the mail. Instead, they’ll have to request these ballots, which they can do in a few different ways:
• Vote in person on election day. If voters choose to vote in person on the General Election ballot as well, they should bring the ballot they received in the mail with them to the polls. Otherwise, they’ll need to sign an affidavit stating they haven’t already voted in the General Election.
• Vote early by requesting an early local ballot from their town clerk. Local ballots can be requested in person, by phone or by email. Voters can also request early ballots online, either by filling out a Vermont Absentee Ballot Request form on the Secretary of State’s website and delivering it to their town clerk’s office, or by visiting mvp.vermont.gov.
Town officials are trying to get the word out about how to request local ballots. Ferrisburgh Town Clerk Pam Cousino said it’s important that as many people as possible know about this added step for residents in towns voting on local issues.
“I think more people are becoming aware of it, but I don’t know if everyone will be aware of it,” she said. “You’re going to get your ballot in the mail and think ‘I’ve done my duty’ and not know there’s something else going on.”
One of the local issues to be voted on this November is the ‘Addison North’ merger proposal, which asks voters in the nine towns making up the Mount Abraham Unified School and Addison Northwest School districts if those two entities should merge to address shared issues of declining enrollment and rising overhead costs. At the same time, voters will be asked to elect representatives from their towns to sit on the merged district’s 15-person board of directors if the vote passes.
Some Addison County towns will be voting on other local issues. Addison residents will be asked to approve a $2.07 million bond that would be used to fund renovations of the old town hall on Route 22A into a new town office building and community center. Bristol voters will be asked to approve spending $940,000 to repair and improve the Pine Street water line.
Cousino said residents who want to vote by mail on these local issues should request their ballots by the end of October in order to receive them in time. Local ballots and general election ballots can be returned by mail or placed in the secure drop boxes at town clerks’ offices.
Bristol Town Clerk Sharon Lucia said it’s important that voters who return ballots by mail remember to keep their local and general election ballots separate.
“I’ve already gotten the question of ‘can I put it all together?’ and the answer is no, they have to be mailed separately,” she said.
Voters who have already mailed in their General Election ballot can still request their local ballots or vote in person for local elections. Cousino said town officials are doing what they can to ensure residents receive their local ballots, whichever way they choose to do so.
“They can come into the office; we can mail it to them,” she said. “Just try to get out and vote in one way or another.”
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