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Judge Grants Major Victory for Voting

September 16, 2020

Contact: Charity R. Clark, Chief of Staff, 802-828-3171

Attorney General T.J. Donovan today announced that the U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont granted the State’s motion to dismiss, in defense of Vermont’s mail-in voting plan for the upcoming general election. The lawsuit filed in federal court last week, Martel et al v. Condos, sought to stop the Secretary of State’s Office from mailing ballots to every registered, active Vermont voter. Today, the Court denied the Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction and granted the State’s motion to dismiss the case.

“I am pleased with the Court’s decision to dismiss this challenge to Vermont’s mail-in voting,” said Attorney General Donovan. “This is a victory for Vermont’s democratic process. Mail-in voting enhances the opportunity for voter participation in the November election while helping to ensure the health and safety of all Vermont voters.”

The Plaintiffs—five Vermont voters—argued, among other concerns, that “the universal mail-in system may deprive them of an individualized right to vote if they (1) do not receive their ballot in the mail and (2) fail to take other measures to obtain a ballot such as contacting the town clerk directly or appearing at the polling place on election day in person,” as noted in the Court’s order.

In reaching his conclusion, the Honorable Judge Geoffrey W. Crawford found that “as this is not a class action, the court considers the experience of the individual plaintiffs themselves. These are sophisticated voters who have gone to considerable lengths to obtain counsel skilled in election law and to file a lawsuit in federal court. Of all people likely to be confused about how to vote, these five plaintiffs must be last on the list. The court will not enjoin a state-wide mailing because one or more of these plaintiffs may be confused by the non­receipt of a separate mailing last month in connection with the primary election.”

A link to today’s court order can be found here.