By Rob Roper
The case surrounding voter irregularity in Victory, Vermont, currently in the Essex Superior Court, involves a number of people who do not live in the town voting in local elections — enough to sway the outcome of at least one contest. Testimony from the case would indicate that these folks had at least an inkling that what they were doing was wrong, or at least fishy, because they asked the Vermont Secretary of State’s office if what they were doing was really legal. However, according to their sworn testimony, officials in the office told them it was OK.
It is important to note that none of these people ever claimed to be domiciled in the town where they were voting, as one has to be according to Vermont law to be added to the voter checklist. The statute clearly states that a voter must be “a person who is [repeat, “is”] domiciled in the town as evidenced by an intent to maintain a principal dwelling place in the town indefinitely.”
The Flanigan family (two parents and two adult children) and another couple, Laury Saligman and John McGill, are open about the fact that they maintain principal dwelling places in Connecticut and Montpelier respectively. What they have in Victory are second homes. (McGill/Saligman have a non-winterized cabin). They would like to move there permanently at some point in the future, but they don’t live there now. In the McGill/Saligman case, that intention to move is admittedly some 12 years in the future and is nebulously dependent upon the growth of a business.
Open about the fact that none of them actually live in Victory, they each contend, under oath, that they contacted the Secretary of State’s office to ask if they could nevertheless vote there. Here are excerpts from their sworn testimony:
McGill: “Before applying to be on the Victory checklist I discussed my situation with the Secretary of State and was advised I was eligible to vote in Victory.”
Saligman: “Before registering to vote, my husband called the Secretary of State’s office several times to go over our situation and inquire about voting eligibility. He had several conversations and was told that since we have invested significantly in winterizing and updating our cabin, pay significant taxes, and have an intent to move to Victory we would have the right to vote in Victory.”
Toni Flanigan: “Before submitting the [voter registration] form I spoke to the Secretary of State Elections office and I was told not to fill it out [the sections asking whether you are a resident of Vermont and asking whether have taken the Voter’s Oath] until we became full-time residents when we retire. They also told me I was eligible to vote in Victory.”
Robert Flanigan’s answer was identical to his wife’s.
If their testimony is true, the Secretary of State’s office under Jim Condos is actively undermining Vermont’s clearly written election law regarding residency requirements. If Condos’ misinterpretation of 17 V.S.A. § 2122(b) is not challenged, anyone who owns property in Vermont is eligible to register to vote here, regardless of their actual primary dwelling place.
How many other out-of-state part-time property owners, how many town clerks, how many Boards of Civil Authority have received this misguided, illegal advice from our secretary of state? How many local elections has this affected?