Early Voting Increases In Popularity

11/01/10 7:34AM By Bob Kinzel
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AP Photo/Toby Talbot
(Host) The last 24 hours of a political campaign are a very hectic time.  Candidates are holding rallies, firing up their phone banks and organizing their get-out-the-vote efforts.

But as VPR's Bob Kinzel reports, the last-minute efforts won't have an impact on roughly a quarter of all voters. That's because they've already cast their ballots.

(Kinzel) Under the early voting system, Vermonters can actually cast a ballot anytime within 45 days of an election.

Annette Cappy is the town clerk in Brattleboro.  She says early voting is very popular in her community.

(Cappy) "I think that people just love it they can come in and vote at their convenience a lot of people take the ballot with them especially for the General Election ballot it's a long ballot with a lot of candidates they take it with them and that way they can study at their leisure at home and then bring it back."

(Kinzel) Charlotte Hoyt is the city clerk in Montpelier. She says there's a lot of interest in early voting in the capital city.

(Hoyt) "Yes there is. A lot of people they don't want to wait in line and they're coming in to vote early."

(Kinzel) Hoyt says dealing with the early ballots keeps her office busy in the weeks before an election but she says it's definitely worth it.

(Hoyt) "It makes extra work because we have to keep track of recording all the people that have come in early but I think it's important that people get out and vote."

(Kinzel) Alison Kaiser is the town clerk in Stowe and the head of the Vermont Town Clerks Association. She thinks early voting will continue to grow in popularity as more people learn about it.

(Kaiser) "I think that a lot of people are still not aware that you can come in and vote early for any reason you don't have to just not be available on election day and because those rules are so strict ion other states I think that there's more that we can do to let people know that early voting is available for anyone for any reason."

(Kinzel) Tom Racine is the town clerk in Highgate. He says there are a number of reasons why voters are choosing to the use the early ballot system.

(Racine) "A lot of the older folks that head off to warmer parts of the country that take advantage of early voting and folks that are going to be busy take advantage so it's picking up." 

(Kinzel) Individuals can go to their town clerks office to cast an early ballot or they were able to request one by mail. Racine says he's not worried about the security of this system:

(Racine) "Everybody knows everybody around here and nobody seems too have any concern whatsoever including myself."

(Kinzel) Town clerks do want voters to understand one key element of the early voting system. Once a person has returned an early ballot to the clerk's office, the individual cannot later change their mind and request a second ballot.

For VPR News, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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