New map tracks Vermont’s mail-in vote as it happens

first_imgAbsentee votes: What percentage of the vote has been cast in your town? This map uses town-by-town election data to determine the rate at which absentee ballots sent to voters have been received by town clerks. (Last updated 10/23/2020) CLICK MAP FOR DYNAMIC DATA Multiple clerks expressed similar sentiments due to the stream of incoming ballots as well as what Mazzucco estimates as double the quantity of phone calls. Most offices are still closed to the general public because of the pandemic.In Charlotte, town clerk Mary Mead said that every day the mailbox is stuffed with mail. “Starting last weekend and every weekend going forward I am coming in to pick up ballots and will do that the whole time until the election is over,” Mead said. Unfounded fraud claims hurt town workers, Condos saysCondos told us that all of the planning that went into this election was focused on protecting Vermonters’ voting rights and protecting the health and safety of town clerks and other workers. Nevertheless, clerks across Vermont have noticed an increase of worried citizens calling to express their concerns about voter fraud. “I wish people would stop bashing us,” Gage said. “It really is not a fraudulent process.” According to Prince, there is not a lot of room for fraud. Still, she has noticed that “people are worried that the ballots were sent out because we don’t want them to come to the polls.” In response to those concerns, she explains that if folks don’t feel comfortable mailing in their ballots, they can drop them off day or night, seven days a week in a completely secure drop box. Otherwise, they are welcome to come to the polls but should just be prepared to wait outside, possibly in the cold. Ballots can certainly be mailed, or dropped off any day, including election day. “Or if you left your ballot at home, you can sign an affidavit saying you haven’t previously voted and we’ll give you a new ballot and you can vote on Election Day,” Condos said. “The polls are open. We haven’t changed anything else. This is just one more option.” The clerks want Vermonters to have the opportunity to vote using the voting method that is most comfortable and safe for them, they said. Multiple clerks encouraged CNS reporters to vote and to encourage friends and family to vote if we hadn’t done so already.According to Condos, Vermont voters should not be at all concerned about fraud. “The true voter fraud in this country is denying an eligible American the right to cast a ballot,” Condos said. Emmy Sobelman contributed to this story.A project of the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program. by Valentina Czochanski, Community News Service, UVM For the first time ever, every registered voter in Vermont received a ballot in the mail. According to town clerks across Vermont, those ballots are being returned in record numbers.  As of Oct. 23, over 190,000 people have already cast their vote by mail, according to a daily-updated dataset provided by the Vermont Secretary of State’s Elections Division. With three weeks to go, that number has already surpassed the 2016 general election total of 91,000 for early and mail-in ballots. “We suspect that this is going to be a dramatic increase in voter turnout,” said Secretary of State Jim Condos.The Community News Service has developed an interactive map to keep track of the ballots being returned in Vermont towns. This map is constantly updated with state data.Town Clerks describe “crazy” amount of ballotsCommunity News Service Vote tracker map(link is external) follows the votes town by town. A big surge is expected at the end of today when votes from Sat and Monday are included. This edition includes Friday’s data.Top Five Vote By Mail TownsShelburne: 58.92% Norwich: 56.46%Calais: 56.08%Richmond: 55.07%Middlesex: 55.28%Bottom Five Towns Pownal: 4.43Searsburg: 4.45%Panton: 11.75%West Fairlee: 12.28%Weathersfield: 21.62%We checked in with town clerks from Barre, Brandon, Cambridge, Charlotte, Hinesburg, Milton, Morristown, and Randolph to see how voting is going and what has changed in this unusual election year. “The volume coming back is robust to say the least,” said Deborah Lefebvre, an assistant town clerk in Barre. “That first week we were just buried in ballots coming back because a lot of people got them, voted, and sent them right back.”The high return rate is likely including scores of first-time voters, Milton Clerk Sheryl Prince said. “We’re very busy,” Prince said. “We’re getting a lot of people voting who haven’t voted before because they got ballots in the mail.”When asked if they expected any issues or confusion from first-time voters or folks not accustomed to voting by mail, multiple clerks assured us that there were no more defective ballots than usual.A ballot may be rejected for several reasons(link is external) under state law. Brandon Clerk Sue Gage attributes most defective ballots to simple mistakes such as a missing signature or the ballot not being placed in the voted ballot envelope. Vermont has a historically low defective ballot rate. Jim Condos assumes that this election will have even fewer defective ballots than the primary election, where over 6,000 ballots were uncountable(link is external). The problem in the primary was attributed to an influx of first-time mail voters who filled out their ballots incorrectly.“For the general election, it’s a much simpler process, so we don’t think it’s going to be a problem,” Condos said. “We typically are 1% or less.”When asked how voting was going in Randolph, Clerk Joyce Mazzucco said, “it’s crazy. We’re overwhelmed.” Close to one-quarter of the town’s registered voters have already mailed in their ballots.  Hinesburg poll workers count ballots.last_img