What You Need to Know About Vermont's August 11 Primary but Were Afraid to Ask | Primary Voter Guide | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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What You Need to Know About Vermont's August 11 Primary but Were Afraid to Ask

Published July 22, 2020 at 2:00 a.m.
Updated August 4, 2020 at 9:23 p.m.

  • Dreamstime.com

The primary election for Vermont state offices always occurs on the second Tuesday in August: This year it's on August 11.

Voters will be choosing the major party candidates for statewide office — the ones who will be on the ballot in the November 3 general election.

This is not Vermont's presidential primary; that happened on Town Meeting Day, remember?

This primary is actually three elections in one: The primaries for Democrats, Republicans and Progressives are all held at the same time.

When you're ready to cast your ballot, you pick the primary in which you want to participate. There's no party registration in Vermont, so whether you vote by mail or in person, you'll get ballots for all three primaries. You'll fill out one and return the other two. That's right, you can only vote in one of those elections.

Important to note: If you vote by mail, you have to return all three ballots for your vote to be counted. No exceptions! If you mess it up, election officials will void your ballot.

There will be no record of which party's ballot you choose. The only time your ballot preference is recorded is during a presidential primary.

You don't have to vote in all the races listed on the ballot. It's fine to leave some blank if you want.

Though it's OK to vote for fewer candidates than allowed for each office, if you vote for more, your vote will be disqualified.

For your vote to be counted, your ballot must arrive at the town clerk's office before the close of business on the day before the election. (This day will vary depending on the hours the town clerk keeps.)

If you can't get it there in time, you can still drop your ballot off at your polling place on primary election day.

On August 11, all polls in Vermont will open between 5 and 10 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.


The number of pages in the 'easy-to-read,' unannotated, PDF version of the Vermont Election Laws produced by the elections division of the Secretary of State's Office.


The number of employees in the Vermont Secretary of State's Office who oversee elections.


The number of different ballots that the Secretary of State's office had to create, proofread and print for this primary election — a Republican, Democratic and Progressive ballot for each of the state's 275 legislative districts.


The number of signatures that candidates had to collect to appear on the primary and general election ballots this year. To slow the spread of COVID-19, Vermont lawmakers waived the usual signature requirements, which are: 500 for candidates seeking statewide offices, 100 for the Vermont Senate and county offices, and 50 for the Vermont House.


The number of town clerks responsible for managing elections at the local level.


The age at which you're eligible to vote in the August 11 primary if — and only if — you'll be 18 by the general election on November 3, 2020.

Still have questions? Visit the website for the Vermont Secretary of State at sos.vermont.gov or call your town clerk.

The original print version of this article was headlined "Primary Primer | What you need to know but were afraid to ask"