May 18, 2020
The Hon. Phil Scott
The Hon. James Condos
The Hon. Mitzi Johnson
The Hon. Tim Ashe
Dear Elected Leaders:
It is the position of the Vermont Public Health Association (VtPHA) that Vermont should implement a universal vote-by-mail program for the 2020 elections. Please find the following statement posted on our homepage (www.vtpha.org) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/VermontPublicHealthAssociation/):
The Vermont Public Health Association salutes Vermont’s elected leadership for their response to the COVID 19 pandemic. Their actions have helped “flatten the curve” of the virus’ spread and thus have protected Vermonters from this significant disease. However, it is widely recognized by public health experts that there is a real risk of a resurgence of COVID 19 in the next several months or this coming fall. Thus, we must continue proven public health practices, such as physical distancing, to keep the pandemic under control.
The November 2020 election poses a challenge for policymakers and public health officials alike. Election forecasters predict record turnout, which is good for our democratic process but will create crowded public gatherings that could expose voters and election workers to the COVID 19 virus.
Therefore, the Vermont Public Health Association recommends that for the upcoming general election, the state creates a robust system enabling key options for voting, including in-person voting, absentee ballots, and a universally available vote by mail system. This will create several options for all voters. The Vermont Public Health Association specifically supports the initiation of a vote by mail option for every registered voter that allows them to vote safely from home.
This flexibility on voting options for our citizens will prevent Vermonters from having to choose between avoiding exposure to COVID 19 and exercising their right to vote. It adds an additional protection for our citizens who may be older or who live with a chronic health condition. It also supports voters who are less able to travel or unable to take time off of work. A comprehensive vote-by-mail system works to equalize voting opportunities for all Vermonters.
VtPHA is a membership organization which facilitates collaboration among people who care about public health and are interested in protecting and promoting the health of Vermont residents. Should you have any questions about our position, please be in touch.
Sally Kerschner, RN, MSN