Just as we were beginning to think Republican Governor Phil Scott deserved a lot of credit for his responsible handling of the Covid-19 crisis, he threatens to undo that goodwill by dragging his feet on Vote-By-Mail.
Secy. of State, Jim Condos has set forward a timely plan that would ensure all qualified Vermonters will have the opportunity to make their voice heard in the November election, but the Governor wants to postpone a decision as to whether or not to go ahead with the plan, until August.
That would give the state barely three months to develop the protocols, notify counties of guidelines, distribute ballots, inform voters about the procedures, allow for the necessary learning curve to address unanticipated problems, receive and process returned ballots for counting, and present a conclusion scenario in which voters may have full confidence.
That’s a very tall order, and failure on any of these measures would mean utter chaos and bitter divisions at the worst possible time in our history.
Condos has said the governor must approve the plan in the coming days to give the Secretary of State’s Office enough time to set up the infrastructure needed to strengthen the early and absentee ballot apparatus.
…And what exactly does the Governor think will happen between now and August to obviate the need for distance voting? Does he buy Donald Trump’s narrative that COVID-19 will somehow magically “go away” by then? I give him credit for much more common sense than that. At best we might have a brief respite before the next wave, but not only is there the responsibility to ensure that voters are kept safe, concern by voters, themselves, for their safety could in itself suppress participation.
True, it would probably be easier on his Republican cred right now to delay, delay, delay in the hope that somehow he will be spared this difficult decision; but he knows full well that what is required of any political leader in a time of crisis is a profile in courage, not party loyalty.
The Republican Party has developed a reputation for attempts at voter suppression. At this critical juncture, Governor Scott would do well to avoid that appearance, himself.