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Early voting for Aug. 24 primary under way

—The primary ballots are in and registered voters wishing to vote early can pick up ballots for the Tuesday, Aug. 24 primary from their Town Clerk’s office.The deadline to request an early ballot is the end of the business day on Monday, Aug. 23. Closing times vary for each town clerk’s office.According to the Secretary of State’s website, for an early ballot to count, it needs to arrive at the town clerk’s office by the end of business day on the day before the election, or at the polling place before 7 p.m. on election day.Voters can cast their early ballots in person at their town clerk’s office. Voters can also request ballots be mailed to their home or delivered by two justices of the peace.The deadline for unregistered voters to register is Wednesday, Aug. 18, at 5 p.m.“If you’re registered to vote in the town you reside in, you do not need to register again,”  Brattleboro Town Clerk Annette Cappy wrote in a recent e-mail.Major political parties use the primary election to nominate their candidates for the general election.Under Vermont statue, party registration is not required to vote in a primary. On primary day, voters take the ballots for all the major parties into the polling booth and privately choose which party to vote.Although gubernatorial candidates have received the most attention these past few months, in this primary, voters will also select candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House, as well as for the statewide offices of lieutenant governor, state treasurer, secretary of state, auditor and attorney general.Several state Senate and House seats have primary contests.According to the Secretary of State’s website, Vermont has three major parties: Democratic, Progressive and Republican. To be considered a major party, a party’s candidate must have received 5 percent of the vote in a statewide race in the previous election and the party needs to organize in a minimum of 15 towns within the next year.More than half of Vermont’s voting-age population is registered to vote. As of May 18, 444,493 voters had registered. Voter turnout increased from 48 to 67 percent between 2002 and 2008, according to statistics from the Secretary of State’s office.On Aug 24, approximately 263 different polling places will open no later than 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. Voters should contact their town clerk for polling place locations or go to www.sec.state.vt.us for a complete list of polling locations.More voting information and a list of candidates can be found on the Secretary of State’s elections and campaign financing website at www.govotevermont.com.

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Originally published in The Commons issue #60 (Wednesday, July 28, 2010).

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