RepresentUs, VPIRG, partners secure major victory in Vermont

MONTPELIER, Vt. -- Bucking a national trend of states restricting voter access in the aftermath of the 2020 election, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed a sweeping vote by mail bill into law Monday. The legislation, S.15, would ensure that every Vermont voter be mailed a ballot for every general election -- making permanent a policy that was instituted for the 2020 presidential election in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The bill garnered tri-partisan support in the General Assembly, with more than one-third of House Republicans and a majority of Senate Republicans supporting it. These overwhelming votes are in line with public opinion. RepresentUs commissioned a poll showing that nearly 70 percent of Vermont voters supported making vote by mail permanent.

“Voting by mail is a smart, effective policy in every election -- not just during a pandemic. Everywhere it’s been implemented, it increases turnout and makes voting more convenient. It’s no wonder it’s so popular with Americans of all political stripes,” said Josh Silver, CEO of RepresentUs. “Amid a scourge of anti-voter bills being proposed and signed into law in the states, it’s encouraging to see Vermont moving in the opposite direction. We applaud Gov. Scott for signing permanent vote by mail into law, and we will keep pushing other states to do the same.”

With its new law, Vermont is positioning itself as one of the most voter-friendly states in the country, joining Colorado, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington as universal vote-by-mail states. Studies have shown that vote by mail increases overall turnout, and reduces the participation gap between voters of color and white voters.

The bill signing also comes at a time when 48 states have introduced 389 bills that restrict voter access -- some of which have been enacted -- and just two weeks before an anticipated first vote on the For The People Act in the U.S. Senate.

“Large majorities of Vermonters, regardless of party affiliation, believe that it’s ‘very important’ to make voting as easy as possible,” said Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. “It’s fitting then that our state’s new law establishing universal vote by mail was passed by Democrats, Progressives, Republicans, and Independents, and signed by our Republican governor. This keeps our elections secure and makes Vermont one of the most voter friendly states in the nation.”

RepresentUs, VPIRG and a broad coalition of pro-democracy groups were instrumental in introducing and pushing the Vermont bill over the finish line. The victory is part of RepresentUs’ Vote by Mail program, which is also currently working in Delaware, Maine and Rhode Island to pass vote by mail or expand voting access and choice to set the table for a full vote by mail law.

“I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish with the help of our partners. This is the program’s first victory, but it’s only the beginning,” said Dexter Williams, Senior State Legislative Manager at RepresentUs. “Vermont is the first in what could be a number of states passing pro voter laws in the next few months, and we look forward to building on this momentum.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

Ross Sherman, RepresentUs Public Relations Strategist, rsherman@represent.us, 207-749-2660

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RepresentUs is the nation’s largest grassroots anti-corruption organization, bringing together conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass anti-corruption laws in cities and states to stop political bribery, end secret money, and fix our broken elections.