A recount in the Progressive Party primary for governor continues, as officials in 14 counties carefully sort, separate and tabulate the ballots.
The counters gathered first thing in the morning in courthouses around the state. For their troubles, they got $30, free snacks, and an eye-straining chore of carefully examining each ballot.
The counters sort through the ballots of Democrats, Republicans and Progressives. They then separate the Progressive ones and recount them. Their work is then double-checked by another team.
Write-in candidate Annette Smith asked for the recount after losing to Progressive Party Chairwoman Martha Abbott by one vote. The party decided earlier this year not to run a candidate for governor. Abbott withdrew her candidacy after her apparent victory.
Smith supporters hope the recount will give her a seat at the gubernatorial debates. They want her to debate Governor Peter Shumlin on issues such as large scale wind, and basing F-35 fighter jets in Burlington.
Washington County Clerk Elizabeth Battey says the goal of the recount is to determine the intent of the voter in each of the write-in ballots.
"We’ve instructed them as per the secretary of state’s instructions that one doesn’t need to fill out the oval next to a name in order to be considered a true write in ballot for that candidate," she says. "Writing in the name in Vermont is enough."
There were fewer than 1,000 Progressive ballots in the primary statewide. In Washington County, just 132 Progressive ballots were filled in. But the re-count process was extremely slow as the counters had to wade through ballots from 27 towns.
By late afternoon, Battey gave a brief progress report.
"I’ve got to keep going," she said. "I’m nowhere near half done. We’ll be back tomorrow if we can find enough team members."
County clerks are overseeing the re-count process in each county. Once they’re done, they will send the results to Battey who will give them to a superior court judge to review
Battey says she expects the judge to issue an order certifying the winner soon after the statewide results are in.