More than three months after the last vote was cast, Vermont’s election season appears to be finally over. Republican Robert Frenier’s state House seat is safe after a second recount effort, this time in the Vermont House, came to a sudden halt Wednesday morning. The recount of a race between five-term incumbent progressive Susan Hatch Davis and Frenier was stopped on a technicality moments after it began. About two dozen lawmakers met to begin the recount Wednesday morning at the Vermont Statehouse. Recount leaders then announced that a bag containing ballots from Chelsea, Vermont, had a different identification number than was expected, which under House rules amounts to a “tampering” violation and ends the process.
Articles about voting issues in Vermont.
A second recount for a state House seat has some Republicans and town clerks crying foul, but Democrats say the incumbent who lost has a right to ask the Legislature to resolve the contested election. Susan Hatch Davis, a Progressive from Washington, went to court after the November vote showed Republican Robert Frenier of Chelsea beat her by eight votes, and a recount showed he won by seven. The court refused to authorize a second recount, so Davis asked the Legislature to intervene. Now the House Republican leader is accusing Democrats of trying to steal a seat to prevent the GOP from sustaining a governor’s veto.
A second Vermont recount for a state House seat has some Republicans and town clerks crying foul, but Democrats say the incumbent who lost has a right to ask the Legislature to resolve the contested election. Susan Hatch Davis, a Progressive from Washington, went to court after the November vote showed Republican Robert Frenier of Chelsea beat her by eight votes, and a recount showed he won by seven. The court refused to authorize a second recount, so Davis asked the Legislature to intervene. Now the House Republican leader is accusing Democrats of trying to steal a seat to prevent the GOP from sustaining a governor’s veto.
A law intended to boost Vermont’s voter rolls by automatically registering residents who are renewing their drivers’ licenses has resulted in some anxious moments for green card holders and others who are not able to vote, but were registered anyway. Michael Smith, director of operations for the Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, said Friday he knows of only four people who were affected in this way, but he said the automatic registration system was shut down on Jan. 20 anyway to find and correct the problem. Smith hopes to again transmit voter data from the DMV to the state Secretary of State’s office next week.
Secretary of State Jim Condos announced today that eligible Vermont voters are now able to register to vote on any day up to and including Election Day. As of January 1, 2017 Act No. 44 (S 29) An act relating to election day registration officially went into effect, and will be implemented immediately for all local and state elections going forward, including any special elections and Town Meeting Day, which is Tuesday, March 7. Vermont became the 14th state to enact Election Day Registration, eliminating Vermont’s voter registration deadline. This means a person can register at their polling place on the day of an election, and can then vote in that election. Registration will still be available at a person’s Town or City Clerk’s office on any day prior to the election during normal business hours.
With the outcome of at least one Vermont House race still unclear, and another recount having taken longer than expected, officials from both parties have questioned a 2014 law that requires machines to be used in the process. State officials say they’ll review details associated with the recounts, but that the basic concept of machine-tabulated recounts is still superior to counting votes by hand. “We do acknowledge … that better, clearer procedures need to be put in place to bring consistency and order to the process,” William Senning, director of elections for the Secretary of State’s Office, said on Wednesday. “We intend to adopt administrative rules before the next election cycle which will clarify the procedure.” … In order to prevail, both incumbents will need to argue that there were flaws in the recount process, which took place under a recently passed law requiring the use of vote tabulation machines.
Vermont election officials reported a mostly smooth election on Tuesday, but acknowledged at least a dozen complaints from city and town clerks regarding vote counting machines. “The latest I heard I think we had 12 (complaints),” Will Senning, Vermont’s director of elections, told Vermont Watchdog Tuesday afternoon. AccuVote-OS machines have been the digital ballot counters of choice for more than a decade in New England states. About 135 towns in Vermont use the machines to tally election results from paper ballots. While the standalone units are generally considered safe because they don’t connect to the Internet, computer security experts say they are vulnerable to hackers through the machines’ detachable memory cards. Those cards are managed by a single private company, LHS Associates, of Salem, N.H.
The Champlain Valley League of Women Voters is concerned about the effectiveness of motor voter registration, according to spokeswoman Sonja Schuyler. After Town Meeting Day, the League began hearing stories about town clerks being unable to find some voters who had registered through the Department of Motor Vehicles on their checklists. After polling Chittenden County clerks, the League found more than 600 cases of voters not being on the rolls, Schuyler said. Most were allowed to vote after being offered an affidavit to sign, but Schuyler said she had heard from some voters who were unable and unwilling to sign the form. “It creates a hassle for voters,” Schuyler said. The problems raise immediate concerns for the coming two elections, she said, including this summer’s gubernatorial primary election. There are also long-term questions about how well Vermont’s new automatic voter registration will work. Starting in 2017, Vermonters will automatically be placed on the voter rolls when they apply for or renew a driver’s license or nondriver identification card.
On February 16, 2000, Scott Favreau, then 17, committed a crime that shattered a family and shocked the state of Vermont. In the early hours of the morning, he walked up to his foster mother, who was up grading high school English papers at the kitchen table, and shot her in the head with a .22 caliber rifle, immediately killing her. After leading police on a high-speed car chase, Favreau and his accomplice, the foster mother’s stepdaughter who was later found to be implicated in the crime, were arrested. For the small community around West Burke, Favreau’s murder of his guardian, Victoria Campbell-Beer, represented a rare act of violence that robbed it of one of its beloved schoolteachers. For Favreau, the crime marked the deplorable end to a tumultuous childhood largely defined by neglect and abuse, both physical and sexual, allegedly at the hands of his biological father.