Secretary of state announces official vote totals

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(Host) The final results from last week’s election are in. Republican gubernatorial candidate Jim Douglas defeated Democrat Doug Racine by just under 5,900 votes, and a proposed constitutional amendment passed by a wide margin.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The Secretary of State’s office held the official canvassing of the ballots cast on election day and the results show that roughly 60% of all registered voters turned out for the election. According to Secretary of State Deb Markowitz the exact turnout is difficult to determine because many communities have bloated checklists.

When the checklists are adjusted to reflect the actual number of registered voters in each community, Markowitz says the turnout in Vermont was among the highest in the country. Markowitz thinks a combination of hotly contested local and statewide races brought voters to the polls:

(Markowitz) “The legislative races were important as well and we had some surprises there. Was it the result of particular turnout in particular towns? Probably so. I would say some of both is true, that in part it was local races driving some local turnout. But overall I think that the gubernatorial candidates in particular worked very hard to get their voters out.”

(Kinzel) Voters gave their strong approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that will allow the Legislature to set the retirement age for all judges in the state. Currently the Vermont Constitution requires judges to retire at the age of 70. But Markowitz notes that roughly 50,000 people who voted in the gubernatorial contest decided not to vote on the amendment question:

(Markowitz) “So many Vermonters went into the voting booth, took a ballot, but didn’t vote on the constitutional amendment. Now that’s not surprising when you look across the country at ballots that have articles on statewide ballot. Some petitions, some coming in from the Legislature you see a marked drop off, sometimes as much as a 75% drop off in the number of people voting on the articles.”

(Kinzel) The Democrats, Republicans and Progressives all retained their major party status by having at least one candidate for statewide office receive 5% of the vote. The Vermont Grassroots Party fell just short of this threshold. The party’s candidate for Treasurer, Teresa Bouchard, received 4.8% of the votes cast in this race. That’s 450 votes less than what she needed to have the her party qualify.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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