Vermont GOP Gov. Phil Scott wants his state to become the latest to conduct all general elections entirely by mail — even as other Republican-led states are debating restrictions on voting by mail.
In June 2021, Scott signed legislation that aligned Vermont with other states that have made elections exclusively mail-in: Washington, Colorado, California, Hawaii, and Utah.
On Friday, Scott wrote a letter to state legislators urging lawmakers to expand automatic mail-in voting beyond general elections. The Bennington Banner reported.
"General elections already have the highest voter turnout. What we need is increased voter participation for elections like those on town meeting day or school budget votes, which experience a fraction of the turnout of general elections," Scott wrote, according to the news outlet.
Vermont already has among the highest voter turnout rates in the nation. In 2020, 74.2% of the voting-eligible population returned ballots, higher than all but seven other states, according to data from the U.S. Elections Project.
Three of those states with higher turnout — Colorado, Oregon, and Washington — already conduct their elections entirely by mail, The Hill reported.
According to The Hill, Scott’s push for expanded voting by mail stands in stark contrast to Republicans in other states, who have moved to scale back absentee voting. At least 57 bills that have been introduced in legislatures across the country this year would restrict voting by mail in some form, according to research from the Brennan Center for Justice, which favors expanded voting rights.
In Virginia, where Republicans reclaimed control of the General Assembly in November, legislators have introduced a number of measures aimed at restricting or curbing voting by mail, ABC outlet WRIC.com reported.
The Hill reports that Scott may find a more willing ally in his own legislature: Democrats hold overwhelming majorities in both the state House and the state Senate.
In an email, Scott’s spokesman said the move to expand access only made logical sense, The Hill reported.
"If the goal is to expand voter accessibility and participation, it does not make sense to only focus on elections that have by far the highest voter turnout," Jason Maulucci, Scott’s press secretary, told The Hill.
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