Letter to the editor: Students advocate for mail-in voting system
Twelve local students, including four from area high schools and eight from Middlebury College, where among the 96 signatories of a recent letter to Gov. Phil Scott, Secretary of State Jim Condos, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson and Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe, An Open Letter from Vermont High and College School Students. Most of the students will be first-time voters in the coming presidential elections. The letter is printed below.
As representatives of the youngest generation of Vermont voters, we call on you to implement a universal vote-by-mail system for the 2020 election. No one should have to risk their health to cast their ballot.
This March, the Legislature passed, and Governor Phil Scott signed, Act 92. This law gives the governor and the secretary of state the authority to work collaboratively to modify this year’s election procedures in order to keep voters and poll workers safe. Secretary Jim Condos — the state’s top election official — has recommended sending every Vermont voter their ballot in the mail with a postage-paid return envelope. This proposal would reduce crowds at polling locations (which would remain open for those who need assistance) and reduce the chance of spreading COVID-19.
We believe Secretary Condos’ proposal is the best option for Vermonters’ safety and our democracy. We’re pleased to join our parents’ and grandparents’ generations in supporting universal vote-by-mail. As AARP Vermont says, this is a “no-brainer.” Yet, on Monday, May 11, Gov. Scott said he won’t exercise his authority to authorize Secretary Condos’ plan. Instead he said that the Legislature will need to pass another bill forcing his hand in order to make this commonsense change.
The governor’s position makes no sense. He has done a terrific job guiding Vermont through this emergency to date, largely because he has taken the advice of scientists and experts. But on the issue of protecting our voters and our democracy, he does not appear to be listening. If Gov. Scott won’t act, we urge the Vermont House of Representatives and Senate to move quickly on this critical issue and authorize a universal vote-by- mail program as soon as possible. It is the best way to protect voters and election workers of all ages.
Vermont High School and College Students (local students include: Una Fonte and Rory Patch, VUHS; Vivian Ross, MUHS; and Mae Peterson, MAUHS. Middlebury College Students Phoebe Brown, Zander Kessler, Hannah Laga-Abram, Miki Nakano, Andrew Platt, Asa Skinder, Emily Thompson and Connor Wertz)