Early voting sets a record

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(Host) There was a dramatic increase in the number of Vermont voters who used an early ballot for last week’s election. But the state didn’t set an all-time record for overall voter turnout.

These are some of the election results that were certified this morning at a special meeting in the office of Secretary of State Deb Markowitz.

Roughly 66 percent of all eligible voters cast a ballot this year. That’s slightly less than the 69 percent who participated in the 1992 presidential election.

Secretary of State Markowitz has a theory on turnout this year:

(Markowitz) "What happened is some people did stay home. And the people who stayed home were the people who, maybe weren’t all that excited on the Republican side, people in Vermont who may have seen the writing on the wall for Vermont and felt like, `Well, Vermont was such a strong Obama state, why go and stand on the lines.’ There’s still that rumor of lines. And so it may be that in part the reason why we didn’t break records is there’s some Vermonters who said, `You know, my candidate’s not going to win in Vermont. I guess I’ll stay home.’"

(Host) Of the people who did vote, 29 percent used the early ballot system. That’s a number that exceeded Markowitz’s expectations:

(Markowitz) “29 percent is the highest we’ve ever seen. In 2006 we had about 20 percent and that I thought was our max. I actually thought that Vermonters liked the communal experience of going tot he polling place. And I thought that unlike other states that are seeing a growing interest in early voting that we would max out at about 20 percent. I was proven wrong."

(Host) Chittenden County had the highest rate of early ballots. More than 36 percent of all voters in the state’s largest county cast their ballot before election day.

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