Biggest non-story of election day

Today’s Free Press apparently didn’t have enough real news about local elections, so they thought they’d manufacture some drama for good measure.

Seizing on a cryptic and decidedly marginal effort by an unspecified number of Bernie Sanders “supporters,” outside the polling place at Edmunds Middle School, as an indication of discontent in Bernie Town, the paper chose for its caption:

Write-in campaign signals half-hearted support for Sanders.

What exactly was this “campaign” you well might ask?  It consisted of one or more “Bernie For Senate” signs sporting a hand-lettered paste-on and a printed sheet urging voters to write-in the Senator’s name rather than checking it off in the correct box.  

This, the placard explained, would “send a message” that, while the voter supported Bernie for reelection, there were some unspecified “points of disagreement.”

Apparently it never occurred to the Free Press that this might be a ham-handed effort to tempt voters into accidentally spoiling their ballots.  Suggesting that voters who support Bernie might nevertheless have some unnamed “points of disagreement” with the Senator after the many terms he has served on Capitol Hill is hardly a shot in the dark.

Rather than consider the obvious, however, Free Press writer Joel Banner Baird chose to consult Attorney General Bill Sorrell who was just trying to press some last minute flesh of his own in the vicinity of a sign bearer. Probably too self-absorbed at the moment to really care, Sorrell ventured a guess that it might have something to do with the F-35 location in Burlington, which the entire DC delegation has supported despite local controversy.

But even though Mr. Baird thought it was a big enough story to earn that headline, he apparently didn’t bother to go over and ask a sign-bearer about what it was, exactly, that he disagreed with Bernie.

Well, the votes are in and how do you think this write-in “campaign” did?  According to the Burlington City website, Bernie garnered 84% of the total vote, and only three of those votes were write-ins.  

My guess is that the total number of altered signs, which Mr. Baird failed to report, was no greater than three.

“Half-hearted support?”…um… doesn’t sound much like it to me.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

5 thoughts on “Biggest non-story of election day

  1. We had under 200 ballots with any write-in votes on them, some of which were for fictitious characters (hint: if you write in Donald Duck or “none of the above” it doesn’t get counted or even recorded), and most of the remainder were the usual smattering of random votes for the down-ticket offices or people who didn’t make it onto the ballot (like Jill Stein for president).

    From what I could tell there were very few of these protest write-in votes.

    In all this was an entirely ineffective protest effort.

  2. Jvwalt crowed about this sign story being his scoop a couple of weeks ago.  And you replied, alluding to it as likely a Republican dirty trick.  GMD thought it newsworthy then but when someone else writes about it they are “manufacturing drama?”  

    “p.s. Yesterday, the Freeploid’s Terri Hallenbeck wrote a vtBuzz item about these signs, wondering why they were being posted. If the ‘Loid writes a follow-up, I do hope they credit GMD for the scoop. Like they usually don’t.


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