November’s General Election is right around the corner and every registered voter should have already received a mail-in ballot.  If you haven’t received a ballot, or you need to register to vote, please come by the town office or contact the clerk by phone so he can help get you registered to vote in Vershire.  There have recently been questions about mail-in balloting and, just the other day, someone asked why they had to put their name on the certificate envelope (Vermont law requires every mail-in ballot to be returned in a signed certificate envelope). “But you will know how I voted when you open up the envelope!” was the stated concern. After reassuring this particular voter that no one would ever know how they voted, I explained how this process works.  Here is what I told that voter:

Every person who votes in Vermont by mail-in ballot, must return their ballot in the required, signed and dated, certificate envelope.  This signed certificate envelope is verification that the person who signed the envelope is the person who is casting the ballot contained inside.  The clerk uses the signature on the outside to definitively demonstrate that this person has voted, recording the fact the ballot has been returned. The signed certificate envelope is not opened at that time but placed in the vault in the town office.  In fact, the returned certificate envelope, with the ballot inside, is never opened before election day.  And, if the certificate envelope is NOT signed when it is returned, the voted ballot cannot be counted (if the ballot is returned and the certificate envelope not signed, the clerk will make every attempt to contact the voter so this can be corrected as soon as possible).  On the day of the election, all the mail-in ballots that have been received are taken from the vault and brought to the polling place by the clerk, still in their certificate envelopes.  At the polling place, members of the Board of Civil Authority will then together verify, one at a time, that each name appearing on each certificate envelope matches a name on the voter check list.  The Justices of the Peace then open the envelopes, one at a time, removing the ballot and placing each in the ballot box with all the other ballots.  At the end of the day, all voted ballots are co-mingled in the ballot box, all together.  After the polls close, all the ballots are removed from the ballot box, unfolded then counted against the number of voter names/ballots checked off the voter check list.  Once that number is reconciled, and the number of ballots verified to match the number of names checked off the check list, the ballots are sorted in batches of 25 and then the tallying of votes can begin.  So, if you also were wondering, no one ever knows how any one particular person voted, nor would anyone actually want to know that.  Democracy is blind and it begins and ends at the ballot box.  Your vote is your voice!

Gene Craft, Town Clerk

Vershire, Vermont