By Mary Mead, Charlotte Town Clerk/Treasurer
The Vermont Secretary of State’s Office was in charge of mailing out absentee ballots to every active registered voter in the Town of Charlotte. They started the mailing on Sept. 25 and finished up by Oct. 1.
As far as voting by absentee ballot is concerned, this is the only thing that is different. There is nothing different about the way we handle absentee ballots, nothing different about the way you return the ballots to us, nothing different about the way those ballots are cast or counted. People also seem to be worked up about early voting, like that is somehow something different from casting an absentee ballot. In Charlotte, early voting = absentee ballot voting; this is also the same as always. If you received a ballot, voted on it, and returned it to the Clerk’s Office, you voted early by absentee ballot.
So here we go, to be clear:
YES – You can return your ballot to us in person, walk into the building (we are open, Mon-Fri 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and hand it to us. If the office is closed or you don’t want to enter the building, you can put your ballot in the mail slot by the front door. It is locked, secure and checked frequently throughout the day and on the weekend as well.
YES – Your ballot needs to be placed inside the certificate envelope and you need to sign and print your name—legibly—since that is what we use to mark you off the checklist as “voted.” If you are a Jr., Sr., III please make sure that’s how you sign. Otherwise, we have no idea who to check off the list.
YES – If you make a mistake, like using permanent magic marker to mark your ballot and it bleeds through to the other side, you can bring your ballot in to us and we will give you a new ballot.
YES – If you prefer to vote in person, on election day, you certainly can. We ask that you bring the ballot you received in the mail to use to vote on, as we have a limited quantity of ballots.
YES – If you show up at the polls wanting to vote in person with no ballot in hand, we will certainly give you one.
NO – We do not start counting ballots early. When the polls open on Nov. 3, we will start putting all the absentee ballots we have received into the tabulator. We will be casting those ballots at the same time as any in-person voting is going on. We check the mail throughout the day to make sure we are counting every ballot that has been returned. Every ballot that we have received before the close of polls at 7:00 p.m. will be run through the tabulator, even if that process takes us past 7:00 p.m.
We encourage you to return your absentee ballots to us before Nov. 3, unless you are voting in person, of course. There is a certain amount of data entry we need to do before the absentee ballot goes into the tabulator, so the more we can have done before election day, the faster it goes. The faster it goes for all of us worker bees, the faster you all get the results.
If you choose to wait until Election Day to appear on the scene, remember we will be at the Charlotte Town Hall, not Charlotte Central School. Please be prepared to practice social distancing, wear your mask, don’t be in a rush, and all will be well. Stay calm and carry on as they say.