WILMINGTON — To avoid close contact during the coronavirus pandemic, voters will be mailed ballots for March elections and Town Meeting Day articles.
At a meeting held remotely on Jan. 19, the Wilmington Select Board unanimously approved mailing the ballots at the recommendation of Town Clerk Therese Lounsbury. She looked at whether the town should send postcards asking registered voters if they wanted ballots mailed to them or should just send them the ballots.
When postcards were sent in August, Lounsbury estimated hearing back from about 73 percent of voters who wanted a ballot. When the Vermont Secretary of State’s Office mailed ballots for the presidential election in November, Wilmington had about an 86 percent return in ballots. Lounsbury noted that turnout is always expected to be higher in presidential elections.
Her recommendation to send the ballots was made with an eye toward equity. She said every voter has the same opportunity to send the ballot back or bring it to her office.
Select Board Vice Chairman John Gannon, who also serves as state representative for the Windham-6 district, noted the governor urged all towns to do mail-in voting when he signed a recent law to allow Town Meeting voting to happen by mail due to the pandemic.
“COVID-19’s going to be around for a while despite vaccinations,” Gannon said, adding that Health Commissioner Mark Levine recently testified that herd immunity won’t be reached until sometime in the summer. “I think mailing out the ballots is the best option.”
The Joint Fiscal Committee approved $2 million to help towns cover mailing costs, Gannon said. He encouraged the town to take advantage of the funding, which he said will be made available through the Secretary of State’s Office.