Vermont candidates do not need to gather signatures to run

Posted

The Associated Press

MONTPELIER — Vermont is making temporary changes to its election laws amid the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Secretary of State Jim Condos said.

Under legislation passed by the Vermont Legislature and signed by Gov. Phil Scott, candidates will no longer have to gather petition signatures for the state's primary elections in August and the general election in November, Condos said Monday in a written statement. But candidates will still have to file financial disclosure statements, he said.

"Fair and free elections are the foundation of our democracy," Condos said. "These temporary changes to Vermont's election laws will allow us to be nimble, and adapt our elections process to ensure every eligible voter who wishes to vote can cast their ballot safely, without increasing exposure or putting their health and the health of other voters, election workers, and candidates at further risk."

"Eliminating the requirement for candidates to collect signatures for petitions is necessary in this time when we are sheltering at home, avoiding gatherings, and avoiding unnecessary contact with other people," Elections Director Will Senning said.

The Secretary of State's office had previously issued recommendations to the Legislature on temporary changes to Vermont's election laws during the 2020 COVID-19 health crisis and response. Condos, Senning and Deputy Secretary of State Chris Winters worked with legislators, legislative committees of jurisdiction, and the governor's office on the elections bill, H.681, which was passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Scott on Monday.

The new law empowers municipal legislative bodies to change upcoming local elections during the 2020 COVID-19 crisis from floor meetings to Australian ballot, without requiring a full vote of the town.

This new temporary law also creates emergency powers to allow the Secretary of State's office, with the agreement of the governor, to enact the necessary measures to enable Vermonters to vote safely during the 2020 COVID-19 health crisis. Such measures could include the mailing of ballots to every registered voter, an extended cutoff for clerks to receive voted ballots, an expanded window for clerks to process voted ballots, the creation of secure ballot return stations, or the moving of polling locations, as examples.

For more information and guidance on elections during the COVID-19 state of emergency, visit the Elections Division COVID-19 Response page on the Vermont Secretary of State's website at https://sos.vermont.gov/elections/about/covid-19-response/.

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