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Vermont governor signs mail-in voting bill

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) on Monday signed legislation that will make his state the latest to conduct general elections entirely by mail.

Under the new measure, every registered voter in the state will receive a mail-in ballot in advance of November elections, joining six other states in conducting those contests exclusively through absentee votes.

Washington, Colorado, California, Hawaii and Utah already conduct elections entirely by mail. Nevada legislators approved a similar measure earlier this month. 

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The bill passed the Democratic-controlled legislature by a wide bipartisan margin. In a statement, Scott called on the legislature to expand the law further, to include primary elections.

“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 turnout,” Scott said. “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.” 

Vermont has a long tradition of high-participation elections. Nearly three-quarters of Vermont voters, 74.2 percent, showed up to vote in the 2020 presidential contest, according to the United States Elections Project, higher than all but five other states. 

In 2018, Vermont ranked higher than all but 10 other states in turnout, even though it did not feature any competitive federal elections. 

The measure is one of a handful of moves to expand access to the ballot that have passed with bipartisan majorities this year, at a time when many states have moved to restrict access in highly partisan debates. Republican-led legislatures in Kentucky and Oklahoma have also passed measures that would make it easier to vote.