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Election 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Vermont Casts Its Three Electoral College Votes for Biden and Harris

Posted By on Mon, Dec 14, 2020 at 2:49 PM

State senator-elect Kesha Ram was one of the electors. - KEVIN MCCALLUM ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • State senator-elect Kesha Ram was one of the electors.
Vermont cast its three Electoral College votes Monday for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as the next president and vice president of the United States.

Three electors chosen over the summer by the state's Democratic party formally backed the Biden-Harris ticket following the pair's overwhelming win in Vermont in November.

The Statehouse ceremony might not have attracted much attention in any other year. But the convening of electors in all 50 states Monday was getting lots of coverage as President Donald Trump continued his attempt to subvert results of the election.

Biden and Harris received 242,820 votes in Vermont, or 65 percent. Donald Trump and Mike Pence received 112,704 votes, or 30 percent.

The electors — state senator-elect Kesha Ram, Washington County party chair Linda Gravell and former state party chair Terje Anderson — were sworn in by Secretary of State Jim Condos, who walked them through the simple voting process.

After the electors marked their ballots and turned them in, Ram said she was “overwhelmed” to be able to cast such a historic vote. Ram said she was the first woman of color to serve as an elector in Vermont, and that she would probably process her profound emotions about the day “in waves.”
Terje Anderson in the Statehouse - KEVIN MCCALLUM ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • Terje Anderson in the Statehouse
“I think that’s the only way that I can take in that we will have a woman of color in the White House and two people who are deeply committed to turning the page for this country,” Ram said.

Before driving to Montpelier for the 10 a.m. ceremony, Ram called former Vermont governor Madeleine Kunin to thank her for her work on behalf of women in politics in the state. Ram said that after Hillary Clinton’s loss in the 2016 presidential contest, she worried that Kunin would never get to see a woman serve in the White House.

“Recognizing that we still have so many pioneers with us to celebrate this moment made me feel honored to cast this vote for them,” Ram said.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Caller Threatened Vermont Elections Officials, Condos Says

Posted By on Wed, Dec 2, 2020 at 2:10 PM

Secretary of State Jim Condos - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Secretary of State Jim Condos
An unidentified caller has left at least three threatening and vulgar messages for members of Secretary of State Jim Condos' staff in recent weeks, according to Condos. One of the messages, directed toward a top Vermont elections administrator on Tuesday, accused the office of unspecified cheating and suggested that its members face a firing squad.

"If people want to take potshots at me, I get it. I'm elected," Condos said Wednesday. "But they shouldn't take pot shots at my staff or staff of elections officials across the state."

Condos' office first disclosed the threats on Twitter late Tuesday in a message amplifying remarks made earlier that day by Georgia elections official Gabriel Sterling. At a press conference that quickly went viral, Sterling described the threats he and his colleagues had faced over their administration of the 2020 election and called on President Donald Trump and members of the U.S. Senate to tamp down their divisive rhetoric.
"It has to stop," Sterling said, adding, "Someone's going to get killed."

Condos echoed those remarks Wednesday. "It really has to stop," he said, accusing Trump of spreading conspiracy theories related to the election and encouraging dangerous rhetoric. "It starts at the top."

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Friday, November 20, 2020

Recount Confirms Johnson's Loss; Krowinski Likely Next House Speaker

Posted By on Fri, Nov 20, 2020 at 8:04 PM

House Speaker Mitzi Johnson - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • House Speaker Mitzi Johnson
A recount Friday confirmed that Vermont House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) has lost the seat she’s held for 18 years to Republican Michael Morgan of Milton in the highest profile upset this election cycle.

The result heralds a new beginning for the House, as Majority Leader Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington) is poised to become the chamber’s next speaker. Johnson has held the speakership for the last four years.

Official election results for the two-seat Grand Isle-Chittenden district showed Johnson in third place, 20 votes short of Morgan’s 2,627 votes. Morgan's margin of victory increased by one vote after Friday's eight-hour recount at the North Hero Community Hall, according to results from Grand Isle County Clerk Susan Bohannon.

Morgan’s uncle, Rep. Leland Morgan (R-Milton), was the top vote-getter with 2,778 votes after the recount, an increase of two votes; Democrat Andy Julow earned 2,405, one vote more than before the recount.

Despite her loss, Johnson said this election’s record-breaking turnout earned her more votes than ever before. She said the coronavirus pandemic prevented her from running a typical campaign. For one, she didn’t knock on doors in the district, which usually afforded her the chance to hear from voters directly — and clear up any misconceptions about her record.

“Had I been able to do that, I easily could have flipped 12 votes,” she said. This year, she had to focus on leading the House through the pandemic.

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Monday, November 9, 2020

Kimbell to Seek Speakership, Pledging to Represent Rural Vermont

Posted By on Mon, Nov 9, 2020 at 1:37 PM

Rep. Charlie Kimbell - COURTESY OF THE VERMONT HOUSE
  • Courtesy of the Vermont House
  • Rep. Charlie Kimbell
The race to replace Rep. Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) as speaker of the Vermont House has expanded.

Rep. Charlie Kimbell (D-Woodstock) said Monday that he's running in order to "bring a rural voice" to the office. A second-term moderate from the Upper Valley, he characterized himself as a more unifying — and less partisan — figure than two other declared candidates: Rep. Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington) and Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas (D-Bradford), respectively the current and former House majority leaders.

"The speaker's role is different than that of majority leader," Kimbell said. "The speaker's role is to be representative of all members of the House and to build consensus and coalitions with all the people who are there."

The speaker's job is up for grabs following Johnson's unexpected defeat last week. Though Johnson has requested a recount, Copeland Hanzas and Krowinski both expressed their interest in the job last Friday. The Democratic caucus is expected to nominate a candidate for speaker the first weekend of December; the full House is likely to formally approve the choice when the legislature convenes in January.

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Friday, November 6, 2020

Copeland Hanzas, Krowinski to Seek Speakership if Johnson’s Defeat Stands

Posted By on Fri, Nov 6, 2020 at 11:12 AM

Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas
Updated at 11:48 a.m.

Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas (D-Bradford) on Friday became the first member of the Vermont House to publicly express interest in succeeding House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) as leader of the chamber. Shortly thereafter, Rep. Jill Krowinski (D-Burlington), followed suit.

Johnson, who served two terms as speaker, lost her reelection race by 18 votes on Tuesday. She has requested a recount.

In a statement to reporters Friday morning, Copeland Hanzas said she supported Johnson’s decision to seek a recount. "If, after the recount, we need to elect a new Speaker of the House, I will likely step forward to run for Speaker," she added.

Krowinski had previously declined to comment on her intentions, citing ongoing uncertainty around Johnson’s electoral fate. But reached by phone later Friday morning, she confirmed that she, too, would seek the speakership if the recount did not reverse the results.

“First, I want to reiterate that I am fully behind the speaker in helping her through the recount and hope the results change,” Krowinski said. “If the results do stay the same, I will be the contingency candidate to run for speaker, and I look forward to talking with the Democratic caucus members and members of the [House] about what their goals and priorities are.”

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Thursday, November 5, 2020

Republicans Tagged House Speaker Johnson as Out of Touch

Posted By on Thu, Nov 5, 2020 at 12:32 AM

Speaker Mitzi Johnson in March - KEVIN MCCALLUM ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • Speaker Mitzi Johnson in March
When word came late Tuesday that House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D- South Hero) appeared to have lost her seat by just 18 votes, it was an election night shocker for many. The 18-year incumbent had won reelection by narrow but increasing margins in recent years, and many assumed that this year’s historic boost in turnout would only help Johnson.

But Matt Dickinson, a professor of political science at Middlebury College, heard that Johnson was in trouble shortly before the election. Her loss, he said, was not as surprising as it may appear.

A prominent Republican official described to Dickinson Michael Morgan’s campaign to unseat Johnson, noting that the retired Air National Guard colonel from Milton seemed to be making significant inroads.

"The sense he got was this guy had been spending two years working the district, and she had lost touch and was vulnerable and didn’t realize it,” Dickinson said.

Johnson said she’s keenly aware that she has prevailed by narrow margins in recent years. First elected to the House in 2002, she won by just 31 votes in 2014, 103 in 2016 and 148 in 2018.

But in 2018, her Democratic running mate, Ben Joseph, lost to Michael Morgan’s uncle, Leland Morgan (R- Milton), who won the district's other seat, a clear sign of trouble on the home front for Johnson.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Seven Takeaways From Vermont's 2020 Election

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2020 at 11:35 PM

Outside a polling place in Stowe on Election Day - FILE: KEVIN MCCALLUM ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Kevin McCallum ©️ Seven Days
  • Outside a polling place in Stowe on Election Day
Is it over yet?

At the current rate, the counting of presidential ballots from Pennsylvania to Georgia may never end. But here in Vermont, Election Day came and went without incident. The results of most races — with the exception of a recount or two — were apparent by late Tuesday night.

So now that the dust has settled, what should we make of it all? To help answer that question, Seven Days came up with seven takeaways from the 2020 election.

Scott Absolutely Crushed It
Gov. Phil Scott speaking to reporters after voting Tuesday in Berlin - FILE: PAUL HEINTZ ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Paul Heintz ©️ Seven Days
  • Gov. Phil Scott speaking to reporters after voting Tuesday in Berlin
It's hard to overstate the magnitude of Gov. Phil Scott's victory.

The Berlin Republican won 248,353 votes, or 67 percent of those cast, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State's Office. That's more than two and a half times the 99,200 votes his Progressive/Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, received. And, amazingly, it's 5,469 more than even Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden picked up in true-blue Vermont.

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Protesters Around Vermont Demand Officials 'Count Every Vote'

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2020 at 8:18 PM

Marchers on Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday afternoon - JAMES BUCK ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • James Buck ©️ Seven Days
  • Marchers on Church Street in Burlington on Wednesday afternoon
Nearly 60 people gathered on the Church Street Marketplace on Wednesday afternoon to demand that officials count every vote in the presidential election, a process that was still under way nearly 24 hours after polling places around the country closed.

Toting signs that read “Count Every Vote” and “Don’t Let Trump Steal the Election,” the protesters marched up the pedestrian mall to the Unitarian Universalist Church, where they took a moment of silence to center themselves after a nail-biter of an election.

“We got love, we got power, we got hope,” Rachel Siegel, the executive director of the Peace & Justice Center, chanted into a megaphone on the church lawn. “Hey hey, yoo-hoo, we will not accept a coup!” Participants joined her in the rally cries.

The Burlington event was organized by Protect the Results, a nationwide coalition that formed in response to President Trump’s threats that he won’t concede the election if he loses to Democratic candidate Joe Biden. Wednesday evening, sister rallies were held in Brattleboro, Bristol, Manchester, Middlebury, Montpelier and Rutland. Another demonstration is planned for Saturday in Montpelier.

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Dems and Progs Lose Supermajority in the Vermont House — By a Hair

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2020 at 2:54 PM

The Vermont House of Representatives - FILE: TAYLOR DOBBS ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • File: Taylor Dobbs ©️ Seven Days
  • The Vermont House of Representatives
Republican Gov. Phil Scott had plenty to celebrate after Tuesday's election — and not just his massive victory over Progressive/Democratic Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman. The governor's party also managed to pick up a seat in the Vermont Senate and three in the House, according to unofficial results.

Among the apparent casualties was House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero), who trailed her nearest opponent by 18 votes. She was expected to request a recount.

Democrats and Progressives will still dominate the Senate, with a combined 23 of 30 seats. But in the House, they will no longer hold the supermajority required to overturn gubernatorial vetoes — two-thirds of the 150-member chamber — assuming the current results stand.

For the past two years, Democrats and Progressives have controlled 102 seats in the House, while Republicans have had 43 and independents five. In the next biennium, Democrats and Progressives are expected to control 99 seats, with Republicans taking 46 and independents holding steady at five.

"That's Vermonters showing they want the governor to have more support in the legislature," said Paul Dame, political director of the Vermont Republican Party.

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Scott's Victory Lap: Gov Wins Third Term, Gray Elected LG, Speaker Johnson Falls Short

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2020 at 1:47 AM

Gov. Phil Scott declares victory Tuesday in a video shot in his motorcycle garage. - SCREENSHOT ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Screenshot ©️ Seven Days
  • Gov. Phil Scott declares victory Tuesday in a video shot in his motorcycle garage.
Updated at 4:28 a.m.

Republican Gov. Phil Scott waltzed to a third term on Tuesday, while Democratic newcomer Molly Gray was elected Vermont’s fourth female lieutenant governor.

And in the upset of the evening, House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) appeared headed for defeat. Unofficial results showed Rep. Leland Morgan (R-Milton) and his nephew, fellow Milton Republican Michael Morgan, ahead in the two-seat House district — with Johnson trailing 18 votes behind the latter. Given the narrow margin, Johnson declined to concede on Tuesday night and said she would seek a recount.

“It’s not uncommon for Vermont House elections to be extremely close,” she said in a written statement. “Over the years, we’ve seen tight races and recounts in this district. I want to ensure every vote is counted and that we have clarity on the outcome of this election.”
House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero) - FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
  • File: Jeb Wallace-Brodeur
  • House Speaker Mitzi Johnson (D-South Hero)
The 2020 election saw the highest voter turnout in state history. With 97 percent of precincts reporting early Wednesday morning, more than 353,000 ballots had been counted, according to the Secretary of State’s Office. Vermont’s previous record, set in 2008, was 326,822.

Though the outcome of the presidential election remained unclear early Wednesday, the preference of Vermonters was readily apparent. Preliminary results showed Democratic former vice president Joe Biden leading Republican President Donald Trump 66 to 30 percent. That’s a wider margin than in 2016, when Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton led Trump 56 to 30 percent, with 6 percent writing in Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

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