Every year, U.S. citizens are barred from voting because they missed the registration deadline. In our area, Vermont sets the deadline to the Wednesday before election day. In New York, it’s weeks before. New Hampshire, however, allows voters to register on Election Day. Some Vermont leaders want to do the same. Secretary of State Jim Condos told lawmakers Friday, Vermont should do away with registration deadlines. “Right now, my office has no reasonable answer for why these Vermonters cannot exercise their right granted to them under our constitution,” Condos said.
In Montpelier City Hall, clerk John Odum handles voters checklists ballots. Sometimes, he has to tell Vermonters they can’t vote because they missed the deadline. “It’s never a happy thing to tell a citizen of this country that they can’t participate in the most fundamental privilege they have,” Odum said.
A bill being considered by the Senate Government Operations committee would allow “same-day” registration, at the polls on Election Day.
It’s not a new idea–Secretary Condos says 14 other states do this, and Vermont has considered it in the past. But town clerks were concerned about the logistics.