Here in Vermont, we are fortunate to have open primaries. This means registered voters need not be a member of a particular political party to vote in that party’s primary. Indeed, Vermonters who participate in the primaries receive three ballots — those of the Republican, Democratic and Progressive parties — although they only complete one. Thus, voters need not declare allegiance to any party when they vote or request absentee ballots from their town clerk.
Vermont benefits from the open-primary system since it allows a diverse group of voters, not merely the party faithful, to determine who appears on the ballot in November. It can help ensure general-election candidates appeal to a broad swath of our population. For example, Gov. Phil Scott’s skillful handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has won him the support of Vermonters who would not normally vote in a Republican primary, including independents and Democrats. Likewise, Lt.-Gov. David Zuckerman, a Democratic gubernatorial candidate, has a progressive platform that may attract voters who normally veer to the left of the Democratic Party. However, if Scott and Zuckerman’s supporters do not vote in the August primary, these two candidates may not appear on the November ballot despite their service to our state.
We live in a state that allows voters a voice throughout the election cycle. If you would like to see a particular statewide candidate on the ballot in November, vote in the Aug. 11 primary. All registered voters in Vermont received a postcard that allowed them to request an absentee ballot; you may also request one by visiting https://mvp.vermont.gov or by calling your town clerk’s office.
Dorothy A. Dahm