Condos issues directive on allowable 2021 annual meeting election procedures

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Condos issues directive on allowable 2021 annual meeting election procedures

Wed, 01/20/2021 - 1:11pm -- tim

Accompanying Memo Details Eligible Safety Expenses for Reimbursement

Vermont Business Magazine Today Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos issued his directive on permitted processes for local elections in 2021, giving municipalities the flexibility and safe voting options they need to hold Annual Meeting and other local elections safely.

“No Vermonter should have to choose between protecting their health, and their right to vote,” said Secretary Condos. “Whether that’s for President, or for a local municipal budget. The empowerments in this directive will give local officials tools and resources for municipalities to decide how to best manage a safe elections process that fits their needs.”

The directive can be found BELOW or on the Secretary of State’s website. The legislature has authorized municipalities to delay Annual Meeting until a time in 2021 when it can be held in a safer manner or environment, the proactive mailing of ballots to all voters on the municipal checklist, and conversion of a floor meeting to use of an Australian ballot. The Secretary’s directive contains additional measures that can be employed to increase safety and reduce exposure during the conduct of a local election.

The directive was issued pursuant to the authority granted in H.48 (2021), passed by the Legislature and signed into law by the Governor on January 19th, 2021.

The Legislature’s Joint Fiscal Committee, at the request of the Governor and Secretary Condos, has also made $2 million in Federal CARES Act funding available to municipalities to help pay for the costs of conducting annual meetings in a different manner than normal due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A memo from Secretary Condos detailing eligible costs for reimbursement can be found BELOW or on the Secretary of State’s website, and has been distributed to Vermont’s Town and City Clerks and school district officials.

“COVID-19 continues to challenge our state and communities,” said Secretary Condos. “These permitted procedures and available funding will help ensure that our local democracy remains resilient during these trying times. Remember: your vote is your vote!”

Directive

Reimbursement

January 20, 2020

The Joint Fiscal Committee has appropriated $2M to help pay for the costs of conducting annual meetings in a different manner than normal due to the coronavirus global pandemic. This money, requested by the Administration and with the support of the Secretary of State’s Office, follows the same approach we took to the 2020 General Election: no Vermonter should have to choose between their health and their ability to have their voices heard at annual meetings being held across Vermont in a few short weeks.

The funding, combined with the empowerments provided in H.48, which was signed by the Governor yesterday, will allow municipalities the choices and flexibility to conduct safe elections, and helps to remove cost as a barrier in those calculations so that municipalities can make the right decision for their communities to protect health and safety during annual meetings.

We stepped forward to be the administrator of these funds to help support municipalities through this difficult time. This made sense because we have just played a similar role with CRF funds for the 2020 elections and have a reimbursement process in place.

In order to administer the funds and issue reimbursements as quickly and fairly as possible, we are issuing the following reimbursement guidelines based upon the memorandum used for approval of these funds and the ongoing legislative discussion and overall intent of this funding.

Major costs to be reimbursed over and above normal, previously budgeted election expenses:

1) Mailing ballots to voters (may include use of a mail house)

2) Production of ballots (eligible costs include only any increase from prior years to accommodate use of a ballot and/or ballot mailing)

3) Return postage on ballot envelopes

4) Tabulator programming costs (for any municipality using its tabulator in response to COVID-19)

5) Production and mailing of postcards and other outreach to encourage voting by mail

James C. Condos Vermont Secretary of State

Source: Montpelier, VT – Condos 1.20.2021. https://sos.vermont.gov