Analyst: Early Voting Will Be Key Factor In Primary

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(Host) The election law passed by the Legislature this year also expands Early Voting opportunities in Vermont.

Under previous law, voters could ask for an early ballot 30 days before an election – the new law extends the period to 45 days.

And some political analysts think the change could be a key factor in the outcome of the five-person Democratic gubernatorial primary.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) When lawmakers gave their approval to a bill that moves up the Vermont Primary to August 24th to comply with federal overseas ballot regulations, they also made an important change to the state’s early voting system.

Voters will now be able to request an early ballot 45 days before the election – that means voting in the Primary will begin on July 9th.

Speaking on VPR’s Vermont Edition, Middlebury College political science professor emeritus Eric Davis said the change is significant:

(Davis) "Early voting is going to be a key part of all 5 candidates strategies with the Primary on August 24th turnout is likely to be relatively low people will be away in the summer or its before school starts and so forth I would guess at this point my best estimate is the total turnout will be 60 to 70 thousand with perhaps as much as 30% cast in advance."

(Kinzel) Davis thinks most candidates will develop a two step "get out the vote" strategy beginning with early voters:

(Davis) "Once you’ve voted early you can’t go back and change your mind so every candidate would like his or her strongest supporters to cast their votes as early in the early voting period in July rather than in August as possible so that the candidates can devote their energy to mobilizing the undecided voters and getting them to the polls on the actual election day of August 24th."

(Kinzel) Davis says the best organized candidate will benefit the most from the change – although he’s says it’s not clear who that candidate will be:

(Davis) "I don’t think it necessarily favors any one individual what it does is it places a premium on getting out there and organizing mobilizing and identifying voters."

(Kinzel) The change also means that balloting for November’s General Election will begin on September 17th.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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