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Sec. of State Condos On How Coronavirus Could Affect Vermont's Elections, Work Licensing

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos.
Matthew Smith
Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos says the coronavirus could affect how the state licenses certain professions and whether candidates for local or statewide office will have to collect signatures to run for office.

Candidates for Vermont's local and statewide office might not have to gather petition signatures to be on the ballot this year, according to Sec. of State Jim Condos. And the state may issue temporary licenses for health professionals, both changes in response to Vermont's state of emergency due to the coronavirus.

Condos says the state is looking at a variety of changes to its licensing requirements to bring in qualified health personnel, to provide what he calls the "ramp up" needed for a potential healthcare workforce shortage.

"It's people who have done this work, who are perhaps licensed or certified in another state, or is a retiree. Those are the people we're focusing on right now," Condos says.

Condos says the virus could also bring changes to what the state requires of prospective candidates for office.

Statewide candidates need to file 500 signatures with the Office of the Secretary of State, while candidates for the Vermont Senate need to have 100, and candidates for the Vermont House are required by law to have at least 50 signatures.

Condos tells Vermont Edition he wants legislators to waive those requirements for the 2020 election because of concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

"We have fewer places where people are congregating. Pretty much any large conference or fundraising or whatever has been canceled. So it really puts a bind on candidates to try to get those signatures in place," he says.

Condos says dropping this requirement will probably result in more candidates being on the August primary ballot.

Listen to the full conversation above to hear more about how the coronavirus could affect candidates, voting and licensing of certain Vermont workers.

Broadcast live on Thursday, Mar. 19, 2020 at noon.

Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
Matt Smith worked for Vermont Public from 2017 to 2023 as managing editor and senior producer of Vermont Edition.
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