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Election 2016

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

'Three-Ring Circus:' Vermont House Election Recount Halted

Posted By on Wed, Feb 22, 2017 at 2:21 PM

House Republican leader Don Turner speaks as an election recount is halted Wednesday. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • House Republican leader Don Turner speaks as an election recount is halted Wednesday.
A long-awaited recount of an Orange County House race ended Wednesday before a single ballot had been recounted.

Leaders of all three political parties agreed the recount could not take place because a bag of ballots had been opened in Chelsea in late December. Though the Secretary of State’s Office had been consulted about the opening process, and there was no allegation that ballots were missing, the parties agreed to halt the recount.

“I don’t see how we can move forward,” said Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman (P-Middletown Springs), the House Progressive caucus leader. “The whole point of the recount was to ensure a process we could all have faith in.”

He, along with Republican and Democratic House leaders, declared Rep. Bob Frenier’s (R-Chelsea) election no longer in question.

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Thursday, February 2, 2017

After Six Hours of Wrangling, House Votes for Election Recount

Posted By on Thu, Feb 2, 2017 at 8:54 AM

Rep. Maida Townsend (center-left) speaks on the House floor Wednesday. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Rep. Maida Townsend (center-left) speaks on the House floor Wednesday.
By 7 p.m. Wednesday, a crowd started to stream into the Vermont House chamber for a Farmers Night performance — only to find legislators still filling the seats.

Representatives remained mired in a nearly six-hour debate about recounting an election race, even though virtually no one expects the results to change, or offered solid proof of vote-counting error.

“The results could be the same. The results could be different. We don’t know,” argued Rep. Maida Townsend (D-South Burlington), chair of the House Government Operations Committee.

There were plenty of allegations to go around, however, as legislators accused each other of plotting election fraud and of partisan posturing.

When it was over, the House voted 76-59 along party lines to initiate a recount in the Orange County race.

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) defended the lengthy debate. “It’s worth the investment of our time to make sure there is integrity to our election process,” she said afterward.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

House Panel Calls for Recount of Orange County Race

Posted By on Wed, Jan 25, 2017 at 6:02 PM

The House Government Operations Committee meeting this week - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • The House Government Operations Committee meeting this week
A Vermont House committee voted 7-4 on Wednesday to recommend that the full House order a recount of an Orange County race.

The vote fell along party lines: Six Democrats and one Progressive for the recount, four Republicans against it. The full House is expected to vote next week.

“We want to make absolutely sure that the ballots in Orange House District 1 were indeed correctly counted and that the will of the voters is indeed carried forward,” Rep. Maida Townsend (D-South Burlington), chair of the House Government Operations Committee, said after the panel voted.

Rep. Ron Hubert (R-Milton), the committee vice chair, called it a partisan and unnecessary decision. “We’re going through this process because we have a sore loser,” he said.

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Saturday, January 21, 2017

Vermonters Swarm Into Montpelier for Women’s March

Posted By on Sat, Jan 21, 2017 at 6:50 PM

One of many young girls at the Statehouse Saturday - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • One of many young girls at the Statehouse Saturday
Protesters bathed the Statehouse lawn in a sea of pink Saturday as Vermonters turned out for the Women’s March on Montpelier. So many attendees swarmed into the city that authorities temporarily closed Interstate 89 exits, saying the city’s roads couldn’t handle the traffic. The city police later estimated the crowd at 15,000 to 20,000.

Event organizers said the protest to voice opposition to Donald Trump’s inauguration was the largest march in state history.

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Friday, January 20, 2017

Party Time: Vermont Republicans Take D.C. for Inauguration

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 12:31 PM

The Capitol on Friday morning - AP PHOTO/CLIFF OWEN
  • AP Photo/Cliff Owen
  • The Capitol on Friday morning
Not every Vermonter traveling to Washington is coming to protest the Donald Trump takeover. A score or so of the state’s residents gathered on inauguration eve at a downtown D.C. steak house to celebrate the advent of a new national leader.

A tofu-tinged meeting of Onion River Co-op members it was not. The proudly carnivorous venue and the sentiments expressed at it set this group of Vermonters well apart, culturally and politically, from many of their neighbors back home.

“These are good people,” Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vt.) said as he surveyed the scene at the Ruth’s Chris Steak House located less than a mile from the White House. Welch, who supported Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) presidential bid, had handed out tickets for inaugural festivities to several of the Republicans on hand.

“I prefer any of these Vermonters to Trump himself,” the state’s sole U.S. House member added. “If your car went into a ditch, they’d definitely pull you out.”

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Friday, January 13, 2017

Vermont Lawmakers to Consider Election Challenge in House Race

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 3:23 PM

Verrmont Statehouse - JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • Jeb Wallace-brodeur
  • Verrmont Statehouse
A legislative committee will get to work next week deciding whether to authorize a recount in a Vermont House race.

The House Government Operations Committee officially got its assignment Friday to look at the Orange County race between Republican Bob Frenier of Chelsea and Progressive Susan Hatch Davis of the town of Washington.

In a report filed with the legislature this week, Assistant Attorney General Michael Duane advised that the House has broad authority to decide whether to order another recount or not.

The race has followed a winding path since election day in November, when it appeared Frenier won by eight votes. After Hatch Davis, the incumbent, petitioned for a recount by electronic tabulator, his lead shrunk to six. A judge declined Hatch Davis’ request for a hand recount and after examining several disputed ballots, declared Frenier the winner.

Frenier was sworn in January 4 when the legislature convened for the new session.

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Norwich University Band to Perform at Trump’s Inauguration

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 2:27 PM

The Norwich band - FILE
  • File
  • The Norwich band
Updated at 2:50 p.m.

The Norwich University Regimental Band and Drill Team will perform at president-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday, January 20, in Washington, D.C.

The university, home to the oldest collegiate band in the country, has been invited to perform at seven other inaugurations, most recently President Barack Obama’s in 2013.

“The Norwich University Regimental Band and Drill Team is proud to represent the university and the State of Vermont,” assistant commandant and director of bands Todd P. Edwards said in a statement announcing the news.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Senate Declares March 7 ‘Bill Doyle Town Meeting Day’

Posted By on Tue, Jan 10, 2017 at 11:33 PM

Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) presents former senator Bill Doyle with a signed photo Tuesday. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Senate President Pro Tempore Tim Ashe (D/P-Chittenden) presents former senator Bill Doyle with a signed photo Tuesday.
For 48 years, Bill Doyle had a seat in the Vermont Senate. On Monday, he sat off to the side as his former colleagues honored him at the start of their first legislative session without him.

Senators officially declared this year’s Town Meeting Day, which takes place March 7, in honor of the longtime lawmaker. The Montpelier Republican is known throughout the state for the annual Town Meeting Day poll he started in 1969.

Bill Doyle listens as senators honor him, while Gov. Phil Scott looks on. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Bill Doyle listens as senators honor him, while Gov. Phil Scott looks on.
Doyle, 90, sat quietly in his wheelchair as several former colleagues spoke glowingly about his commitment to democracy, free buffet food and his constituents. Among the speakers was newly installed Gov. Phil Scott.

The state’s longest-serving senator, who also teaches political science at Johnson State College, lost his reelection bid in November.

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, who, at 45, is half Doyle’s age, noted that Doyle had served in the Senate “longer than I have served as a human on this planet.”

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Monday, January 9, 2017

Gov. Scott Wants New List of Supreme Court Nominees

Posted By on Mon, Jan 9, 2017 at 12:00 PM

Justice John Dooley - STEFAN HARD/FILE
  • Stefan Hard/file
  • Justice John Dooley
Newly installed Gov. Phil Scott said Monday he will seek a new list of nominees for the state Supreme Court, days after the court thwarted his predecessor’s attempt to fill an upcoming vacancy.

Last week’s court decision will allow Scott, a Republican, to name a replacement for Justice John Dooley, who has announced he will retire at the end of March.

Former Democratic governor Peter Shumlin was prepared to name a replacement for Dooley before leaving office last Thursday. The court, including Dooley, ruled 5-0 last Wednesday that Shumlin could not make the pick because the vacancy did not yet exist.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Vermont Lawmakers Nearly Certify Erroneous Vote Totals

Posted By on Thu, Jan 5, 2017 at 12:27 PM

Secretary of State Jim Condos (right) confers over election numbers with Senate Secretary John Bloomer, Deputy Secretary of State Chris Winters and Sen. Jeanette White on Thursday. - TERRI HALLENBECK
  • Terri Hallenbeck
  • Secretary of State Jim Condos (right) confers over election numbers with Senate Secretary John Bloomer, Deputy Secretary of State Chris Winters and Sen. Jeanette White on Thursday.
When Sen. Jeanette White (D-Windham) read off the Vermont election vote totals during a joint session of the House and Senate on Thursday morning, something didn’t sound right.

Liberty Union candidate Boots Wardinski surely didn’t get 69,000 votes, thought Rep. Kurt Wright (R-Burlington) as he heard the number.

Indeed, Wardinski tallied just 7,038 votes — but legislators had come within a whisker of certifying the wrong numbers.

“It’s actually pretty serious,” Wright said as the legislature’s canvassing committee reconvened to figure out what went wrong.

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