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Vermont: How to Make Sure Your Vote Counts in the 2020 Election

What you need to know, including key deadlines, registration details, and how to vote by mail.

Grace Han/Thrillist

Election Day may feel like an eternity from now, but it’ll be here before you know it. If you’re voting in Vermont, there are several important dates and deadlines coming up even sooner. We’ve got some time before November 3, but now’s the time to start planning for how you’ll vote and considering the steps you’ll take to ensure your safety amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Don’t get discouraged by these challenging times or the steps you have to take to be able to vote. Voting is a right and your voice should be heard. How you exercise that right is entirely up to you. Here’s what you need to know, like when you need to be registered to vote and the steps you can take to safely cast your vote in person on Election Day.

What's the deadline to register to vote in Vermont?

There's no real deadline to register to vote in Vermont. That is, you can register through Election Day, according to the state's Elections Division.

How to register to vote in Vermont

It’s easy. You can register to vote online. If you’d rather do things the old fashioned way, you can download and print the voter registration form. Once you’ve completed it, you just have to mail it back to your local election office. You may also visit your local town clerk's office to register to vote in person. 

Can I vote early? When does early voting start in Vermont?

Yep, you can vote early. Voting early is a great way to avoid potentially long lines at the polls or to make sure your vote is counted if you think you will be busy on Election Day. 

Early voting in Vermont takes place from September 21 to November 2 via the state’s absentee in-person voting process. Dates and hours will vary depending on where you live. Contact your local election official to find out when early voting takes place.

If you have other questions about early voting in Vermont, officials recommend that you email sos.elections@vermont.gov or call 800-439-VOTE.

Can I vote by mail?

Yes, you can vote by mail via absentee ballot. All early absentee ballot requests must be in by 5pm on November 2, the day before the election, which is frankly cutting it super close. Ballots must be returned to the town clerk’s office before the close of the office the day before the election or to a polling place before 7pm on the day of the election.

Vermont will mail absentee ballot applications to all active, registered voters for the General Election. Just get your application in well ahead of the deadline. The sooner, the better. 

If you’re sick or disabled, a ballot can be delivered to you at home on Election Day. It will be brought to your door by two justices of the peace and then returned to the polling place where it will be put in a ballot box and counted. 

How to request an absentee ballot in Vermont

Absentee ballots can be applied for online at the My Voter Page. You may also print and download the application here to mail to your local town clerk.  

Again, Vermont’s making this easy by automatically mailing applications to all active, registered voters ahead of the election. If you don’t receive one, contact your local election officials. 

How to vote absentee by mail in Vermont

Once your ballot arrives, read the instructions and mail it back in the provided envelope. You can also return it in-person to your town clerk or a polling place. It must be at your town clerk's office before the end of the workday November 2 or at a polling place before 7pm on Election Day.

Is there a way to track my absentee ballot? How can I make sure it’s counted?

You can track your Vermont absentee ballot status on the My Voter page. All you have to do is enter some information about yourself. 

Also, be sure to carefully read the ballot instructions and meet the aforementioned deadlines. Avoid tearing or otherwise damaging your voter materials -- you don't want you ballot to be thrown out on some sort of technicality.

How can I stay safe while voting in person?

Polling places open early on Election Day. You can find your polling place using the state’s locator.

Voting by mail is one way to ensure your safety this election as the coronavirus pandemic continues to pose a risk at public places. If you must vote in person, or you’d prefer to, there are things you can do to remain safe while doing so. The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention has issued some tips to help voters protect themselves and others on Election Day.

Here’s what the CDC recommends: 

  • Wear a mask.
  • Keep at least six feet from others.
  • Wash your hands before and after leaving your polling place.
  • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol during your time inside the polling place, especially after touching things.
  • If you cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow or a tissue. Throw all tissues away in a lined garbage can, then sanitize your hands again.
  • Do not try to disinfect the voting machine or any other equipment yourself, as you could wind up damaging it. Just clean your hands with sanitizer before and after touching commonly-touched things and be sure to wash your hands once you’ve returned home or to a place where you’re able to do so. 
  • Try to vote when your polling place is less busy.
  • Make sure you’re registered to vote and have everything you need with you before you leave home on November 3.
  • Bring your own black ink pen. Just be sure to ask a poll worker if it’s OK to use before marking up your ballot.

Additional Vermont voting resources

Vermont My Voter page
Vermont Election FAQs
Ballotpedia - Vermont
Vote.org - Vermont

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Caitlyn Hitt is Daria IRL. Don't take our word for it -- find her on Twitter @nyltiaccc.