Vermonters have broken their record for voter registration with less than three weeks to go before the November 6 midterm election.
Of the state’s roughly 520,000 eligible voters, more than 481,000 of them are listed on the state’s lists as ready to vote, according to the secretary of state’s office.
This beats the state’s previous record from 2016 by over 16,000. That number is only expected to climb, as Vermont voters can register to vote in the state up to and on Election Day.
Part of that success is attributed to the state enabling automatic voter registration, where 16,000 of the 30,000 voters registered in 2018 did so while renewing identification such as their driver’s license at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos told VTDigger that the voter registration number will continue to spike as licenses need to be renewed every four years.
“It takes us a full cycle before we get everybody,” he said. “The goal is we’re going to get as many eligible Vermonters as possible to be registered to vote.”
Condos also reported that 7,000 people applied online and that 27,000 residents have requested early voting ballots. He expects those numbers to climb.
“We expect to see a huge influx of requests coming in in the next three weeks,” he said.
However, registration and actually voting are two different actions. Eric Davis, an emeritus professor of political science at Middlebury College, told VTDigger that the number of registered voters won’t mean anything if no one shows up.
“Registration is only one of the steps,” he said. “Those voters need to be mobilized to turn out.”
Davis also said that Vermont’s races do not have any highly contested elections of national importance to inspire voters to go to the polls. The biggest race the state has is the gubernatorial election, which is featuring the country’s first transgender candidate.
“The question for me is how is this high national of level of interest in voting is going to translate in Vermont … where we don’t have any competitive races at the state level,” Davis said.
Voter registration in Vermont is higher than the national number. Roughly 70 percent of Americans were registered to vote in 2016.