Vermont’s Early or Absentee Voting Process
In Vermont we make it easy to vote. If you prefer to vote early or by mail you can! Voting starts as soon as ballots are available—not later than 45 days before the primary or general election and 20 days prior to a municipal election that uses the Australian ballot.
If you have any questions about early or absentee voting, please call or visit your town clerk. If you need additional assistance you can email the Elections Division at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 800-439-VOTE.
Voting by Early or Absentee Ballot
Vote Early in Person
A voter may vote at the town clerk’s office in person any time after the ballots are available, which can be no later than 45 days before a primary or general election or 20 days before a municipal election using an Australian ballot.
Vote by Mail
Any voter can request that the town clerk mail them an early voter absentee ballot. This ballot will arrive with a return envelope so that the ballot, once voted, can be returned to the clerk and safely stored to be counted on Election Day. The clerk must receive the ballot by the close of polls on Election Day in order for it to be counted. A ballot can be requested any time before an election. Clerks will mail absentee ballots as soon as they are available, but no later than 45 days prior to the election (or 20 days prior to a local election).
Hand Delivered Ballots
A voter may pick up a ballot at the town clerk’s office at any time after the ballots are available. A voted absentee ballot can be hand delivered in a sealed envelope to the clerk on, or prior to, Election Day. The ballot can be returned to the clerk or delivered to the polling place by the voter or any person the voter authorizes to return the ballot for him or her. A person can only pick up his or her own ballot from the clerk’s office.
Vote at Home on Election Day
If you are sick or have a disability, a ballot can be delivered to your home on Election Day. You may request an absentee ballot up until 5 p.m. on the day before the election. Two justices of the peace (of different parties when possible) will deliver a ballot to you, and then will bring the ballot back to the polling place so that it can be placed in the ballot box and counted (on Election Day or the 8 days preceding the election).
All early voter absentee ballots must be returned to the town clerk’s office before the close of the office on the day before the election, or to the polling place before 7 p.m. on the day of the election, in order to be counted.
How to Apply
The voter or an authorized person—including a candidate or campaign worker, or a family member or a health care provider acting on the voter’s behalf—may apply for an early voter absentee ballot in person, by phone, or by mail. Requests submitted on a voter’s behalf by an unrelated authorized person (except health care workers) must be made in writing or in person. All other requests can be made by telephone, in person, or in writing.
“Family member” here means a person’s spouse, children, brothers, sisters, parents, spouse's parents, grandparents, and spouse's grandparents.
Absentee ballots for the August 9, 2016, statewide primary will be available not later than June 24, 2016. Absentee ballots for the November 8, 2016, general election will be available not later than September 23, 2016. Ballots for local elections—town meeting elections by Australian ballot—are available 20 days prior to the election. You can, however, request ballots at any point during the year leading up to the election. We strongly recommend that military or overseas voters request an early or absentee ballot at least 45 days prior to the election.
Requests for an early voter absentee ballot can be made at any time until 5 p.m., or by the time of closing of the town clerk's office, on the day before the election. The request can be made at the same time the person registers to vote, as long as the voter registration application and absentee ballot request are submitted by 5 p.m. on the Wednesday before the election (the voter registration deadline).
Deadline for Request
All early voter absentee ballot requests must be submitted by 5 p.m. or by the close of the town clerk’s office on the day before the election. A request for an early voter absentee ballot is good for only one year; but a single request can be made for town meeting, and the primary and general elections.
Military and Overseas Voter Absentee Ballot Requests
To register to vote and request an absentee ballot using our Military and Overseas Voter Portal, please visit the Portal.
For more voting information for military and/or overseas voters, please visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program.
Responding to Early Voter Absentee Ballot Requests
The town clerk must mail a complete set of early voter absentee ballots to voters who have requested ballots. The ballots must be mailed “forthwith” (as soon as possible) after an application for a ballot has been filed with the clerk and the clerk has received the ballots from the printer. Early voter absentee ballots that are sent to voters who are outside of the country must be sent airmail, first class, postpaid, when such service is available. Ballots sent to voters outside of the country may also be sent by email when requested.
When a voter goes to the town clerk’s office to vote early, the voter is given the absentee ballots and envelopes and is provided a private place to mark the ballots. The voter must then seal the ballots in the envelope, sign the certificate, and return the ballots in the sealed envelope to the town clerk or an assistant town clerk. A voter may also take the ballots and return them to the town clerk before the end of Election Day. No person, except justices of the peace, may take any ballot from the town clerk on behalf of any other person.
How to Vote an Early Absentee Ballot
The following are the directions a voter will receive with an early voter absentee ballot for the general election.
Note: In the case of early or absentee voting in a primary, the envelope instructions will also include appropriate instructions for separating the ballots and depositing the unvoted ballot(s) in a separate envelope provided and clearly marked “Unused Ballots.”
Voters must mark the ballots in accordance with the instructions.
A voter who is ill or has a disability may ask one of the officers who delivers the ballots, in the presence of the other officer, to mark the ballot for him or her. A person who gives assistance to a voter in the marking or registering of ballots may not in any way divulge any information regarding the choice of the voter or the manner in which the voter’s ballot was cast.
A voter who spoils a ballot may return the spoiled ballot by mail or in person to the town clerk and receive another ballot. A voter may receive up to three ballots. A person can spoil two ballots and still vote.
The voter must sign the certificate on the outside of the envelope in order for the ballot to be valid.
A voter who is physically unable to sign his or her name may mark an “X” swearing to the statement on the certificate. The officers who deliver the ballots shall witness the mark and sign their names with a statement attesting to this fact on the envelope.
Return of Ballots
Early or absentee voter ballots must be returned to the town clerk’s office before the close of business on the day before the election (be sure to check your town clerk’s hours) or to the polling place by 7 p.m. on Election Day. The ballots may be returned by mail or in person, unless the ballots were delivered by justices of the peace who would then return them to the town clerk.
The town clerk must record receipt of the voted ballot(s) on the list of early or absentee voters.
Once an early voter absentee ballot has been returned to the clerk in the sealed envelope with the signed certificate, it shall be stored in a secure place and shall not be returned to the voter for any reason.
During the hours that the polls are open, the town clerk delivers the envelopes to the presiding officer in the polling place where the early or absentee voter would have voted if he had voted in person.
On Election Day, election officials examine the checklist to see whether the voter has already voted in person. The election officials also check the certificate on the envelope containing the ballots to make sure it is properly filled out. When the election officials are satisfied that the early or absentee voter is legally qualified to vote, has not already voted in person and that the certificate is properly filled out, they open the envelope containing the ballot(s). Without unfolding the ballots or permitting the ballot to be seen, the election officials mark the entrance checklist indicating the fact that that voter has voted by means of an early voter absentee ballot, and then they deposit the ballots in the ballot boxes or voting machine. Early voter absentee ballots are commingled with the ballots of voters who have voted in person.
When an early or absentee voter is not legally qualified to vote, or has voted in person, or if the affidavit on any envelope is insufficient, the certificate is not signed, or the voted ballot is not in the voted ballot envelope, or, in the case of a primary vote, the early or absentee voter has failed to return the unvoted primary ballots, the envelope must be marked “defective” and the ballots inside may not be counted.