With Election Results Now Official, Vote Goes To Legislature

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(Host) The official results of last week’s election have been released and no candidate for Governor or Lt. Governor received more than 50% of the vote.   

That means they’ll be decided by a secret vote of the Legislature in January.  But as VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports, the vote isn’t expected to change the outcome of the races.

(Markowitz) "It’s so nice to see you – nice to see you – good to see you. Have you all certified before? So you know the story…what I’m going to do is pass you – I‘ve got all of the totals here."

(Kinzel) Secretary of State Deb Markowitz walked into a large conference room in the Redstone office building to greet the executive directors of Vermont’s three major political parties; Democrat Judy Bevins, Republican Erik Mason and Progressive Morgan Daybell.                                                                                                                                    

Markowitz held the meeting to have the party leaders officially certify the results of the election.

Neither of the winners in the top two statewide races received a majority of the vote.

In the election for Governor, Democrat Peter Shumlin received 49.5%, and in the contest for Lt. Governor, Republican Phil Scott got 49.4%.

Each race also featured a number of independent and minor party candidates and Markowitz said that’s why neither Shumlin nor Scott hit the 50% threshold.

(Markowitz) "We have very liberal rules for ballot access which I think is a good thing for democracy. I think it’s good to have variety so that people can hear a debate of a whole range of views…I continue to question whether or not bringing the vote to the Legislature makes sense but that would require a constitutional amendment to change and the Legislature has not yet been ready to make that change."

(Kinzel) Roughly 21% of all ballots were cast using the early voting system.  Markowitz thinks some older voters don’t realize that the early voting system is much more flexible than the old absentee ballot system.

(Markowitz) "Old habits die hard – I think it’s generational. The new generation – people in their 30s, people in their 40s – are used to the early voting. It’s the old timers who remember back to when you needed a doctor’s excuse that still maybe don’t know it."

(Kinzel) A growing number of towns are using optical scan machines to tally their votes. Markowitz says her office will perform random audits of 6 of these towns later this month.

(Markowitz) "Our tabulators are computer technology and so we’ve scheduled that audit…and that’s an extra safeguard to make sure that our voting systems are all secure."

(Kinzel) Voters also overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment on Election Day that will allow 17 year olds to vote in the August primary if they turn 18 before the General Election.

For VPR News, I’m Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.

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