I hope this letter finds you well during these unprecedented times. Across Vermont, the country, and the world, our lives and communities are facing profound changes needed to address the very real crisis of COVID-19. Never before have each of our individual actions been so essential to our collective well-being, to protecting everyone.
While it may be hard to imagine right now, there will be an election later this year. There is tremendous uncertainty about what the campaign and election will look like, and the kinds of limitations public health may place on it. At the Vermont Democratic Party, we are working hard to adapt to the challenges and plan for the unknowable.
So much has changed. Originally we had planned that last night, April 21st, Democrats from across the state would gather at town caucuses to elect delegates to our State Convention (which would, in turn, elect our National Convention delegates).
Obviously, we’ve had to adjust our plans – instead of holding town caucuses yesterday, we’ve adapted by creating an on-line sign-up system to select State Convention delegates, and we’ve extended the deadline to sign-up until 5 pm this Saturday, April 25th.
We don’t yet know exactly what the Democratic National Convention, scheduled for Milwaukee the week of the August 17th, will look like – in-person, virtual, hybrid – but we do know that it will go forward in some form with the essential task of preparing to defeat Donald Trump by nominating Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates, adopting a party platform and doing other pressing party business. If you want to have a say in who will represent Vermont at this convention, you need to sign-up by Saturday to be able to vote for delegates.
Information about running for National Convention delegate and other details are available on the Party’s website.
Our State Convention, previously scheduled for Saturday, May 30th, is being replaced by a system of email voting. But we will be hosting a number of exciting virtual activities on May 30th – stay tuned for the details.
With a growing chance that this year’s elections will be conducted largely by mail, one thing you should do right now is check to make sure all of your voter registration information is up to date and accurate (including your mailing address). You can do that by going to the My Voter Page to update anything that needs to be changed. While you’re there, you can also go ahead and request mail-in absentee ballots to be sent to you for both the August primary and November general elections. (And if you aren’t yet registered, you can do that on-line as well!)
Recent reports show that Vermont has one of the lowest US Census responses rates in the country. You can go on-line and fill out your Census form in a matter of minutes. An accurate count is essential for allocating government resources, making good decisions about state and local projects, and allocating legislative seats. If you haven’t already, fill out your form now!
While the Vermont Democratic Party’s physical offices have been closed for over a month, our hardworking staff are all still busy doing the behind the scenes work needed to get ready for the hugely important election year ahead: updating our lists, learning new digital technologies, supporting town and county committees, working with candidates, preparing for vote by mail, and strategizing how to campaign during this extraordinary time. I’m incredibly proud of the work they are doing - and look forward to introducing you to them in the coming weeks so you can learn more about what goes on behind the scenes.
At the Vermont Democratic Party, we are also very proud of the leadership of our federal and state elected officials during this challenging time. They’ve been working to protect the health and economic security of everyone, with impressive results in Washington and Montpelier.
We thank them all for their extraordinary efforts – whether that is State Treasurer Beth Pearce spending her weekend making sure that emergency checks were sent out to Vermonters desperately waiting payments lost in the snafus of the Department of Labor, Secretary of State Jim Condos and his staff preparing to conduct an election that is safe and ensures everyone has the right to vote, Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman using his office to share essential resources and information around the state, Attorney General T.J Donovan protecting Vermonters against price gouging and scams, or Auditor Doug Hoffer making staff available to assist in dealing with the unemployment backlog. Our state legislators have moved quickly to adopt vital legislation responding to COVID-19, and will likely continue to work (often virtually) throughout the summer to face the important policy choices ahead. And, of course, we can’t say enough about the exceptional work in Washington of Senator Patrick Leahy, Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Peter Welch in fighting to protect Vermonters in the important legislation being passed in response to COVID-19.
This Saturday, April 25th, was originally scheduled to be the Vermont Democratic Party’s annual Curtis-Hoff Leadership Awards and Unity Dinner – a gathering where we celebrate and honor outstanding Vermont Democratic grassroots activists and leaders, and the most important fundraising event on our calendar. While the public health crisis means we can’t gather on April 25th, we have rescheduled for October 3rd and hope that circumstances will allow us to go forward on that date. We’re happy to offer discounted tickets for sale throughout the entire month of April – your purchase now helps provide upfront funding for the essential campaign work that lies ahead.
PS Thank you DEM Club members for sustaining the Party through these challenging times. To learn more about the Club, visit the VDP’s DEM Club webpage.