Secretary of State Jim Condos says he's optimistic that the passage of a same-day voter registration bill this session will help increase turnout in Vermont.
Under current law, the deadline to register to vote comes almost a week before the election. This bill allows people to register as late as election day itself. Condos strongly supported the legislation.
"The right to vote is the very basis and the core of our democracy,” Condos says. “The U.S. and the Vermont Constitution guarantee that right to us, and the law should really protect that right."
Condos says a number of states that have adopted same-day registration laws have seen an increase in voter turnout.
He thinks this is happening because many people lead very busy lives.
"We who are involved in elections, we live and breathe deadlines and things like that, but most people, most Vermonters really don't pay attention until they actually have to go vote,” Condos says. “We understand that the clerks have some concerns about it, mainly about the burdens on them, but we're working with them to try to overcome those."
Condos says he's not concerned about voter fraud with this system because the state has an auditing program that would detect if a person tried to register in two different communities.
"I don't think it's problem, and in fact, in most cases, 90 to 95 percent of the cases around the country where voter fraud has been charged or alleged, it's been proven not to be true,” he says.
House Speaker Shap is another strong supporter of the plan. In fact, Smith says the legislation is one of the most important bills passed by the Legislature this year.
"We passed a bill, and I know some people may laugh that I think this is important, but we passed a same-day voter registration bill,” Smith says. “And in a day and age where voter participation is going down and where it's more and more important to have people involved, I think facilitating the ability of people to vote is really important. I mean, it's fundamental to our democracy."
Vermont becomes the 14th state to allow same day voter registration.