Update from Mayor Miro Weinberger
October 10, 2020
Introducing: Burlington ballot boxes!
The City is committed to ensuring a safe and accurate election, and smooth voting experience for all Burlington voters. In recent years, we’ve worked to dramatically improve voting access by expanding early voting options and implementing same-day registration. In August, while jurisdictions around the country struggled to execute an election amidst the pandemic, we oversaw an election in which the largest number of primary voters in the City’s history exercised their right to vote without mishap. We are committed to doing everything in our power to achieve this standard again over the next month.
One way we’re doing this is through our new ballot boxes. There are now three ballot boxes installed across the city, wrapped in our City flag so that they’re easily identifiable, and receiving voters’ ballots. These ballot boxes are secure, emptied twice a day, and set up according to protocols approved by the Vermont Secretary of State. They are in the following locations:
- City Hall (Main Street, across the street from The Flynn)
- Department of Public Works (645 Pine Street)
- Fire Station #2 (132 North Avenue at the rear of the building)
These ballot boxes were very difficult to procure this year as municipalities around the country are also seeking them. Thank you to the Clerk/Treasurer’s Office team for working hard to make this service available to Burlington voters, to Airport Director Gene Richards for helping with procurement, and to Secretary of State Jim Condos and his office for providing funding for these secure ballot boxes and doing so much else to ensure that all Vermonters can vote and vote safely in this election.
All registered voters had an early voting ballot mailed to them in late September, and these ballot boxes are just one method to return a voted ballot. Including the ballot boxes, there are four ways in total to return a voted ballot. The others are:
- Mail: The early ballot that was mailed voters also included a postage-paid return envelope. If voters choose to return their ballot by mail, please do so a minimum of 7-10 days before Election Day to ensure that the completed ballot arrives in time. You can even check to see that your ballot has been received at: https://mvp.vermont.gov. In the very unlikely event that there are significant delays and your ballot has not been received, you still would have the opportunity to cast a new ballot in person at the polls or at City Hall.
- City Clerk’s Office: You can return your ballot in person at the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall during open hours of Monday 8:00 am-12:30 pm or Wednesday 1:00-4:30 pm.
- Polls: You can return your voted ballot to your polling place on Election Day.
Learn more about voting on the City website.
Moving forward with policing in Burlington
The events of this summer have made unmistakably clear that, as a country and a community, we are at a moment of crisis in policing that has been building for a very long time. In this moment, we must forge a new consensus on how we want to police Burlington. We have an opportunity and responsibility to finally root systemic racism out of all of our institutions, including policing, and deliver our Black and brown residents the fairness, safety, and solidarity that they are due. Simultaneously, we must continue to value and support the brave men and women of the Burlington Police Department who are committed to and have done so much to keep Burlington a safe and thriving place.
In recent weeks, I worked with the City Council and other partners to take a number of actions to resolve this challenging moment and refocus on forging that new consensus. These actions included approving a separation agreement with Sergeant Jason Bellavance, appointing Kyle Dodson to a temporary new position of Director of Police Transformation, and taking other steps to accelerate and advance long-discussed progress. I invite you to read about this work in more detail on the City website.
A critical month in our response to Covid-19
September was a critical month in our response to COVID-19: We welcomed many UVM and Champlain College students back to Burlington, re-opened our public school system, and faced a test of whether we would be able to restart these high-value sectors of our society. Now, we’ve gotten through September in the best shape we could have hoped for — indeed, September was among the months with the lowest number of new cases in Chittenden County. Thanks to this hard work, we’re now seeing a meaningful result: Burlington School District is able to resume more in-person learning for elementary school students, which is a huge benefit for Burlington youth and families.
This success is thanks to our community’s vigilance and collective commitment to virus suppression. Now, we must work together to keep it up. The fight isn’t over, the virus remains a threat, and as more activities head indoors we are seeing infection rates creep up around New England. The City is continuing to work to keep Burlingtonians safe by keeping in place our limits on group gathering sizes in residential areas, providing supportive quarantine services to anyone in the city who needs them, supporting new testing services at the Airport, testing wastewater in each of our three treatment plants twice a week as an early warning system for detecting rising infections, and much more.
On my Covid-19 briefing this past week, I talked with President Akande from Champlain College, Wendy Koenig from UVM, and Superintendent Flanagan from the Burlington School District about September and what’s ahead. Watch a recording of our conversation on the City website.
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