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Vermont's Voter Registration Hits A Record High, With Early Voting On The Rise

Angela Evancie
VPR file

According to Secretary of State Jim Condos, early voting is on the rise in Vermont, and a record number of people are now registered to vote in the November election.

Condos has also asked the Department of Homeland Security to run a cyber risk assessment to test the integrity of the state's voting system.

Vermont has one of the most lenient early voting systems in the country.

While some states allow early voting within two or three weeks of election day, in Vermont, a person has 45 days to cast an early ballot.

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Secretary of State Jim Condos says that for the past three weeks, roughly 2,000 people a day have been voting early.

If this pace keeps up, a record number of people will be voting early this year and the total number of early votes could represent around 25 percent of all ballots cast in the November election.

Condos says people are also registering to vote in record levels. As of Monday, there were 462,693 voters registered.

“We're having a strong turnout, it appears at this point, and we've also had pretty strong voter registration itself,” Condos says. “We've actually set a record as of yesterday. We now have the most voters registered in Vermont's history." 

The previous record was set during the 2012 presidential race, when there were 461,960 registered voters.

"We've actually set a record as of yesterday. We now have the most voters registered in Vermont's history." - Secretary of State Jim Condos

Condos is a strong supporter of early voting, because he thinks it gives people more opportunities to take part in an election.

“We're a very mobile society today, and people are traveling a lot. They're also very busy. Some people are working more than one job, or their job may take them away from their polling place. So it's just a way of making it easier for people to vote,” he says.

Questions have been raised at the national level about the integrity of state voting systems and whether or not these systems could be electronically manipulated to change the outcome of the vote.

Condos says Vermont's vote tabulation system is very decentralized, because it's organized at the town level. He says this makes ballot-tampering very difficult, because local vote scanning machines are not hooked up to the internet.

“Someone would actually have to go to each town in Vermont to break into the town vault, pull that memory card out and reconfigure it and put it back without anybody knowing about it,” he says. “And the likelihood of that happening [is] pretty slim."  

And, just to be certain, Condos has asked the federal Department of Homeland Security to run a cyber risk assessment of Vermont's voting system.

“We already did a cyber scan of our own system, but we looked at Homeland Security — they're going to be doing it as well, and it's just all a matter of doing our due diligence to make sure that our systems are in good shape and we have integrity,” Condos says.

Condos says he expects Vermont's registration numbers will continue to grow next year.

That's when two new laws will go into place: One will allow same-day voter registration and the other will automatically register a person to vote when they initially get or renew their driver's license.

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."
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