Bob Frenier: Of absentee ballots and election theft in Vermont

Editor’s note: This commentary is by Bob Frenier, of Chelsea, who was a member of the Vermont House of Representatives from 2016-2018.

I have to laugh when I hear Progressive/Democrat members of the Vermont Legislature tell us that their vote-by-mail scheme to send live ballots to everyone on the voter checklist will be free of controversy and fraud because Vermonters know how to run elections and certainly don’t try to steal them.

Phooey! These are the same Progressive/Democrat legislative characters who tried to steal my Vermont House election in 2016 and only failed due to their incompetent handling of ballot security.

Former state Rep. Bob Frenier, R-Chelsea

For those who missed or forgot the story, I won an election to the Vermont House of Representatives in 2016, beating a long time Progressive incumbent by just seven votes. A recount, properly and professionally done, confirmed my slim victory. But, because adding my GOP voice to the House strengthened Gov. Scott’s veto power, Democrats and Progressives created a fake controversy about the integrity of just 12 mailed-in absentee ballots — the same kind they want to mail to every voter this November. They forced a court hearing, a week of House committee hearings, and a day of debate involving the entire House Representatives at a cost over $80,000 to taxpayers. Think what can happen when half a million unrequested absentee ballots start floating around Vermont!

The squabble over mailed-in ballots ultimately moved the fate of my election out of the hands of local election officials and into the partisan, political House of Representatives. Not surprisingly, when the Legislative Dem/Prog super-majority in the House voted along party lines to go forward with a third count of my votes, they set a thoroughly corrupt precedent for the 2021 legislature to follow in any re-recount of contested votes in this year’s election.

The corrupted process began when Democrat Attorney General TJ Donovan ignored his statutorily explicit responsibility to conduct a non-partisan investigation of how the 2016 recount was handled — including absentee ballot integrity — and report his findings to the House. Instead, he turned the “investigation” over to the House Government Operations Committee, chaired (believe it or not) by the former head of the Vermont Democrat Party, who was also the former President of the Vermont NEA. What could go wrong for a Republican like me?

Incredibly, her kangaroo committee never even heard testimony from the Orange County clerk who ran the recount in question. Instead, they abandoned the mailed-in ballot issue and claimed, without evidence, that each recounted ballot was not checked for stray marks before being placed in the vote tabulator, which they fantasized might conceivably throw the tabulator off. Unfortunately for the Progressive/Democrats’ reputation for integrity, I’ve got a video on my smart phone that shows vote re-counters doing exactly that — reviewing both sides of every ballot before entering it into the tabulator. Recount officials gave the same assurances in writing to the committee but were never called to testify.

What’s worse, House Democrats and Progressives voted to abandon adherence to state election law and re-recount my votes in the legislature by their own rules, a key element of which was that the voter intent of any questionable ballot would be determined by a vote among the leaders of the Democrat, Progressive and Republican parties. Guess how I would have made out in that process. Ironically, the third count of the ballots failed to happen because the security of a bag of ballots was compromised, underscoring the fragility of ballot security.

So, when the same politically motivated legislators who tried to steal my election tell you that mailing nearly half a million live absentee ballots to voters who didn’t request them is a good idea that can be handled in a professional, non-partisan way, take it with a big grain of salt. If thousands of people are allowed to vote by mail, mailed-in ballot integrity almost certainly will be questioned on a large scale and generate recount after recount. And those recounts will generate multiple court appeals followed by more re-recounts by the legislature’s super-majority, which already has demonstrated that it cannot be trusted to do that with integrity.

Ballots must be handed out one-by-one by trusted people to clearly identified voters to be completed in a closely supervised environment or our faith in the electoral system will continue to diminish.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Shannon McGee

6 thoughts on “Bob Frenier: Of absentee ballots and election theft in Vermont

  1. “Nightmare under the Golden Dome !”

    Imagine Bob Frenier’s troubles multiplied by the election of: the nation’s President and Vice President, Vermont’s Congressperson, 6 Statewide officials (Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Treasurer, Auditor of Accounts, Secretary of State) 180 members of the General Assembly (150 House, 30 Senate) and 14 County High Bailiffs.

    Further, who would conduct and oversee what could turn out to be dozens of overlapping district, county and statewide races ? Certainly, the highly incompetent Vermont Secretary of State who dreamed up this nightmare would be prohibited on having his fingerprints on any aspect of its resolution.

    Many of the officials charged with conducting the recounts would have irreconcilable conflicts of interest ! It is unclear who would oversee such a gaggle of recounts and how long the effort would take.

    It is possible that after the recount effort came to a standstill, a State or Federal Court could order the election(s) be voided and entirely new Election be conducted months later and the question would then arise as to who should serve in all those offices in the interim – the incumbent, the apparent winner(s) or a court appointed “placeholder” ?

    Is it is possible that “Jimmy’s Nightmare” could remain unresolved until next election in 2022 ?

  2. Three cheers for Bob. He’s the kind of legislator we need more of. He knows that king is naked.

  3. Bob! What an excellent account of what could happen (again). I have all the confidence in the traditional voting process in Vermont. I lost my bid to become one of Rutland County’s Senators by 5 votes in the 2018 primary election. For 3 days, I watched intently as the recount was conducted and in the end, I lost by 5 votes, making me a believer in the honesty and integrity of the polling officials in Rutland County. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

  4. Bob
    Your story is outrageous! Such a tale of politicizing a very serious process at the County level. Let’s make sure this does not happen again!

  5. Thanks Bob. Great writing, even better factual reporting. If people would read it, take it to heart and apply the lesson, there is no question they would tell Secretary Condos to go pound salt on this. My suggestion is that everyone take this article link and send it to the Governor on his comment line,, to all the legislators you communicate with and to everyone on your address book. This is a story that must be told!

  6. Bob,
    What a story!!

    Thanks to the Condos fraudulent mail-in shenanigans, you came forward to tell your story.
    You would have been a cooked goose, except for the alleged mishandling of your absentee ballots, which turned out not be the case.

    Dem/Progs went amok in a similar manner after Trump was elected, instead of their favorite, the ten times more divisive Clinton.

    This is like shifty Schiff and his “hearings”.

    Dem/Progs think the government is THEIRS, to do with as they please.
    Damned be anyone in their way.

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