The Vermont Statutes Online
Title 17 : Elections
Chapter 051 : CONDUCT OF ELECTIONS
Subchapter 006 : EARLY OR ABSENTEE VOTERS(Cite as: 17 V.S.A. § 2546)
§ 2546. Receipt of ballots by clerk; voter status; opportunity to cure; processing absentee ballots
(a) Beginning 30 days before the opening of the polls on election day, upon receipt of a mailing envelope containing ballots returned by a voter, the town clerk shall, within three business days or on the next day the office is open for business, whichever is later, direct two election officials working together to do all of the following:
(1) open the mailing envelope and sort early voter absentee ballots by ward and district, if necessary; and
(2) determine that the certificate has been signed, the voted ballot was placed in the certificate envelope, and the ballot is not defective for any other reason pursuant to section 2547 of this subchapter.
(A) If the ballot is not deemed defective, the clerk shall check the name of the early voter off the entrance checklist and record the ballot as received and accepted in the online election management system, and:
(i) place the certificate envelopes into a secure container marked “checked in early voter absentee ballots” to be transported to the polling places on election day; or
(ii) open the certificate envelope and place the voted ballot in the ballot box or tabulator in accordance with the procedures contained in section 2546a of this subchapter.
(B) If the ballot is deemed defective, the clerk shall:
(i) Check the name of the early voter off the entrance checklist and record the ballot as received and defective in the online election management system.
(ii) Place the ballot in the defective ballot envelope in accordance with the procedures of subdivisions 2547(b)(1)-(3) of this subchapter.
(iii) Not later than the next business day transmit a notice, with information required by the Secretary of State’s office, to the voter informing the voter that the voter’s ballot was deemed defective and rejected, the reason it was deemed defective, and the voter’s opportunity to correct the error pursuant to subsection 2547(d) of this subchapter. If the ballot was deemed defective because the voter failed to sign the return certificate, to place the voted ballot in the certificate envelope, or did not return their unvoted primary ballots in the unvoted ballot envelope, the clerk shall include a returnable affidavit, designed and provided by the Secretary of State’s office, with the notice so the voter may cure the deficiency in accordance with subdivision 2547(d)(1)(C) of this subchapter.
(b) Beginning five business days preceding the election, the clerk is not required to mail a notice to those voters whose ballots have been deemed defective. In these cases, the clerk shall make a reasonable effort to provide notice to the voter as soon as possible using any contact information for the voter, other than the mailing address, that is contained in the voter checklist and shall record the ballot as defective in the online election management system not later than 24 hours after the ballot is deemed defective.
(c) Processing absentee ballots on election day. If the certificate envelopes have not been opened and the voted ballots placed in the ballot box or tabulator, the town clerk or presiding officer shall deliver the unopened early voter absentee ballots to the election officials at the place where the entrance checklist is located. During the polling hours on election day, at the direction of the presiding officer, at least two election officials shall open the container marked “checked in early voter absentee ballots,” one election official shall open the certificate envelopes, turn the certificate side face down, and hand the envelope face down to a second election official, if possible from a different political party, who shall remove the ballots from the envelopes and deposit them in the ballot box or vote tabulator. If the early voter is a first-time voter who registered by mail or online, and if the proper identification has not been submitted before the closing of the polls, the ballot shall be treated as a provisional ballot, as provided in subchapter 6A of this chapter.
(d) All early voter absentee ballots shall be commingled with the ballots of voters who have voted in person. (Added 1977, No. 269 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; amended 1979, No. 200 (Adj. Sess.), § 74; 2001, No. 6, § 12(a), (b), eff. April 10, 2001; 2003, No. 59, § 29; 2007, No. 54, § 8b; 2009, No. 70 (Adj. Sess.), § 1; 2013, No. 161 (Adj. Sess.), § 39; 2017, No. 50, § 32; 2021, No. 60, § 13, eff. June 7, 2021.)