Vermont receives $11.5 million for voter access programs

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(Host) The state has received a windfall in federal money to help pay for improvements in voting procedures. Vermont had already received $5 million under the HAVA – the Help America Vote Act.

Now the state has been given another $11.5 million – much more than it was expecting. Vermont Secretary of State Deb Markowitz says the money won’t be spent anytime soon.

(Markowitz) “The lion’s share of the money is going to be saved for the future. We have a tremendous amount to start with. The five million that we have in the bank is paying for some of our initial big purchases, which is a statewide voter checklist that’s required by HAVA. The other big ticket item is the technology for the blind or visually impaired voters.”

(Host) Markowitz says the additional money will help pay for a broad range of improvements – including better access to polling places, training for election officials and better absentee voting procedures.

The money can also be used for voter education. She says despite these changes, most Vermonters will continue to vote the way they always have.

(Markowitz) “We’re a small enough state that marking ballots by hand is all we really need to do. Bigger communities use optical scan machines to read those ballots and that makes sense for them, but we don’t expect that we’re going to move to touch screen voting anytime soon.”

(Host) Markowitz says the state will receive more federal money under the act sometime next year.

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