The law requires the state to send out mail-in ballots to all of its registered voters.
“I’m signing this bill because I believe making sure voting is easy and accessible, and increasing voter participation, is important. Having said that, we should not limit this expansion of access to general elections alone, which already have the highest voter turnout,” the governor revealed in a statement. “For greater consistency and to expand access further, I am asking the General Assembly to extend the provisions of this bill to primary elections, local elections and school budget votes when they return to session in January.”
The law codifies the actions Vermont officials took prior to the 2020 election to keep voters safe during the pandemic.
Over 75% of Vermont residents who voted cast their ballot in 2020 early or by mail, Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos’s office stated, according to the New York Times. About 73% of registered voters cast a ballot in all.
Slightly over two-thirds of registered voters in Vermont were in favor of continuing the mass distribution of mail-in ballots, while just under 30% oppose it, as indicated by a poll conducted by Lincoln Park Strategies.
The legislation “represents the largest expansion of Vermont voter access in decades. This historic legislation will empower more Vermonters to vote, while preserving the integrity and security of the elections process," Condos said.
After the 2020 presidential election, then-President Donald Trump and many in his orbit unsuccessfully challenged the election results, pointing to alleged fraud among other claims that did not hold up in court.
In the aftermath of their efforts to undermine the results, a number of Republican-controlled states sought to implement various election changes to prevent fraud, though federal and state election officials have insisted there is no evidence of widespread fraud in the 2020 contest.
Nationally, Republicans have sought to strengthen voter identification laws, limit mail-in voting, and bring an end to no-excuse absentee voting, all of which they claimed leads to the possibility of fraud, while their Democratic counterparts argue that their real objective is to disenfranchise voters.
Condos described those efforts as “an assault on voting rights” through state legislatures that “use conspiracy theories and lies as cover to restrict the Constitutionally guaranteed rights of American voters.”
Scott also signed an act relating to competency to stand trial and insanity as a defense. He then issued the following statement:
“Public safety is a top priority for my Administration, as is the mental health of Vermonters. This important piece of legislation will help address the limitations of our current systems by lessening the gap between the criminal justice and mental health systems. It also takes steps to ensure due process in the criminal system, protect public safety, and ensure that those experiencing mental illness receive appropriate treatment.”