One week out, questions answered about Nov. 3 election

By Guy Page

Vermonters are asking plenty of questions about the important Nov. 3 election, as of today just a week away.

Will Vermont election results be available on Election Night (or early next morning) as usual?

“At this time we do not anticipate any delays in the reporting of UNOFFICIAL Election Night Results,” Deputy Secretary of State Chris Winters told Vermont Daily today. “As per the Vermont Secretary of State’s First Statewide Elections Directive, Clerks may begin the early processing (but not counting) of ballots 30 days prior to Election Day.

“Early processing entails checking the voter as having voted on the voter checklist, removing the ballot from the certificate envelope and then either feeding those ballots into the tabulator or storing them in a secure ballot box for hand count towns with strict chain of custody protocols. This should ease some volume of the administrative work that must be performed by the Clerks on Election Day.”

Guy Page

In short, the lengthy delays predicted for other states are unlikely to occur in Vermont. Vermont Daily’s local town’s clerk office agrees with Winters. Even though the absentee vote counting won’t begin until Election Day, all votes should be counted by the usual time. “Business as usual,” one local election official said.

Who is running for federal, statewide, and legislative office? 

Click here for list of all candidates on the November 3 general election ballot for: president, Congress, governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, treasurer, secretary of state, auditor of accounts, state senator, state representative, and high bailiff.

Where can I find an analysis on how my legislator voted on the important issues?

The Ethan Allen Institute’s Roll Call Profiles describes how every Vermont legislator voted on critical issues like ballot harvesting, Global Warming Solutions Act, Act 250 reform, paid family leave, minimum wage, etc.

Donald Trump took 30% of the Vermont vote in November 2016. Will he get more this time? Any chance he can win?

Win? Highly unlikely. Do better? That’s more likely because 1) this year he has an enthusiastic, organized base of support, whereas in 2016 he was a relative unknown; 2) this year he’s an incumbent with a strong record of accomplishment, at least according to many conservatives. And even in 2016 he received 3000 more votes than Mitt Romney did in 2012.

Should Vermonters fear civil unrest due to electoral fraud or presidential candidates refusing to accept the outcome of elections?

Vermont Daily is unaware of any planned or even discussed Election Day or post-election protests from conservatives. Some Vermont progressive activist groups have held group protest trainings in anticipation of a possible Election Day dispute. Vermont Commissioner of Public Safety Michael Schirling said several weeks ago he is unaware of any planned disturbances, but is watching the situation and is ready to engage with protesters to keep all activity within the bounds of the law.

Given the recent improvements made to voter security for “My Voter Page,” the Secretary of State’s online voter portal, can I be sure that my personal information is secure from cybertheft?

As reported Oct. 22 by Vermont Daily, the Vermont Secretary of State’s office upgraded security for the My Voter Portal after being warned by a Colchester software engineer of vulnerability of all Vermont voters’ personal information (Name, address, DOB, email, social security number) to cybertheft. Security is better than it was — but is it enough? It’s impossible to say.

Can another person return my ballot for me, or help me return it?

Depends on the person. Candidates and campaign staff cannot provide ballot return assistance, unless they are also related, a caretaker, or a Justice for the Peace. However, advocacy organizations such as VPIRG are permitted to do “ballot harvesting.”

Why all the sudden interest in, and competitive races for, high bailiff?

Candidates wanting more oversight of police are seeking election as high bailiff in seven Vermont counties.

As reported Oct. 16 in Vermont Daily, High Bailiff candidates Dave Silberman (Addison) and Bobby Sand (Windham) are drug legalization and anti-police brutality advocates who interpret the county High Bailiff office as a layer of civilian oversight of the county sheriff’s office.  The Vermont Constitution allows the High Bailiff to help remove a bad sheriff and take his place while another is selected. Candidates like Silberman, Sand, and 15-year-old Simon Rosenbaum (Lamoille), a former intern on the Rebecca Holcombe gubernatorial campaign, infer “civilian oversight” from Vermont’s constitutional provisions. Look for them to fall like a screaming hawk on the sheriff and deputies if misuse of police powers is suspected.

Former Democrat lawmaker Sam Young is running as a write-in for Orleans County high bailiff against Republican and nominal Democrat Royce Lancaster. In Franklin County Reier “we need better oversight and regulation of law enforcement, here is far too much domestic violence among LEOs” is running against incumbent Roberta Allard. In Rutland County, incumbent JJ Bixby is running against “Chief” Humphries, a re-run of the 2018 race; NAACP leader Tabitha Moore announced in August she is running as a write-in candidate. In Washington County, Democrat and ‘police oversight’ advocate Asa Skinder and five-term fincumbent Republican Marc Poulin face off.

Is it true that Democratic lieutenant governor Molly Gray is not eligible to serve because she has not been a Vermont resident for all of the last four years? 

Unknown at this moment. State law says an LG or governor need to have been state residents for the entire four years prior to election. (This prevents “carpetbaggers” from bringing out-of-state money to Vermont and winning election here.) It is agreed by all parties that she lived in Switzerland for parts of 2017-18 — but was she still a legal Vermont resident? Milne says she should prove it — one way or the other — by producing tax documents indicating whether she was an official Vermont state resident. When asked about this on radio talk shows, she has given less-than-complete answers and to date has not publicly produced any documents proving instate residency.

The polls say Joe Biden and Phil Scott are “sure things” to win the two most important jobs on the Vermont ballot — president and governor. Why should I bother to vote?

The Democrat-controlled, activist 2019-2020 Vermont Legislature got almost everything it really wanted – marijuana legalization, policing reform, and the Global Warming Solutions Act. It did this despite the pandemic and meeting and voting on Zoom most of the time. Many legislators made it clear that the Global Warming Solutions Act was “a good first start” and that next year they would be pursuing a complete overhaul of the state’s economic and energy system with a parallel version of the Green New Deal.

At present the Democrats and Progressives in the Vermont House have a numerical “supermajority” of more than the 100 votes needed to override a gubernatorial veto. Gaining or losing a few seats will swing the balance of veto power back to the governor, or take it even further out of his grasp.

How can I follow the Vermont election returns for federal, state, and legislative offices in “real time” on Election Night? 

Follow Vermont Election Night returns LIVE on the Vermont Secretary of State website. It’s the same information the press uses.

Read more of Guy Page’s reports. Vermont Daily is sponsored by True North Media.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons/Rama