Village and School District Agree to Mail Out Ballots Prior to June 2 Votes
The Village of Essex Junction Board of Trustees and the Essex Westford School District (EWSD) Board took an unprecedented action on May 5 by agreeing to mail ballots to all active voters in Essex and Westford. The ballots will allow residents to vote on annual meeting business, including the respective budgets and elections for the Village and EWSD.
Annual meetings were postponed in April for health and safety precautions around the COVID-19 pandemic. The new annual meeting date for the Village and EWSD will be Tuesday, June 2, 2020. The Village will have an informational meeting the evening of Monday, June 1, with more details to come about how residents can participate remotely.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vermont Legislature, Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos and Gov. Phil Scott gave communities significant flexibility with voting procedures to ensure the “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order could be followed. That flexibility includes the ability to mail ballots.
The polls will still be open on June 2, with reduced hours (10 a.m. to 7 p.m.). By mailing ballots, however, the Village and EWSD hope to significantly reduce the foot traffic typically seen on an election day.
As Village President Andrew Brown said, “Taking this proactive step will not only ensure the health and well-being of our residents and poll-workers by preventing the need for in-person voting, it will also eliminate nearly every existing barrier to voting. As an elected official it is our duty to do what is in the best interests of our community while ensuring our community can exercise its civic duty as easily as possible.”
EWSD Board Chair Martha Health added, “It has long been the school board’s interest to increase voter participation. The desire for keeping everyone safe and healthy, combined with making voting more accessible, made the option of mailing ballots to everyone very attractive to our board.”
Essex and Westford voters will receive their ballot in the mail by mid-May. Voters will need to complete the ballot and certification and mail it back to their respective clerk within the pre-addressed and stamped certification envelope. Voted ballots must be received by the clerks no later than Monday, June 1, or taken directly to the polling place on June 2 before the polls close at 7 p.m.
If a voter chooses to vote in person, the voter MUST bring the unmarked ballot that was mailed to them, including the certificate and return envelopes to the polls. The unmarked ballot and envelopes will be given to the presiding officer and a new ballot will be issued. While this is a right of the voter, the boards encourage voters to return the ballot by mail to protect the health of their community.
Only active voters will receive mailed ballots. An active voter is defined as a registered voter whose voting status has not been challenged. If residents are unsure as to their registration status, they should contact their respective clerk:
Essex: Susan McNamara-Hill (Phone: 879-0413 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Westford: Nanette Rogers (Phone: 878-4587 or Email: email@example.com)
Both Boards extend their thanks and appreciation to Essex Town Clerk Susan McNamara-Hill and Westford Town Clerk Nanette Rogers for their willingness to take on this task. Mailing nearly 15,000 ballots in Essex and about 1,600 in Westford will be a significant and unanticipated workload increase.
For more information on the Village of Essex Junction FY’21 proposed budget, please visit www.essexjunction.org/departments/finance/budget. More information on the EWSD FY’21 proposed budget is available at www.ewsd.org/budget.
For more voting information, please visit the Voter Information on the Clerks website