In a brief meeting today, the state Canvassing Committee certified the results of the November 6 election. No surprises, no protests, no accusations. After the August primary kerfuffle, I bet Secretary of State Jim Condos and Elections Division chief Kathy Scheele were relieved.
(It was also Scheele’s last rodeo; she will retire in the near future. The prospect made her particularly cheerful today.)
No surprises, but a few notes to pass along…
Voter turnout was 68%, which was down from the last three Presidential contests: 72% in 2008, 70% in 2004, and 69% in 2000. But Vermont reached a record high in registered voters this year, at 461,000. So the actual number of votes might have been higher this year, even though the percentage was down.
The hullabaloo over military ballots is ending not with a bang, but a whimper. In a deal with the Department of Justice, state elections officials will continue to accept ballots cast by military personnel overseas until this Friday. There are only about 50 ballots still outstanding, nowhere near enough to influence any outcomes. In fact, the canvassers agreed to certify the results with the understanding that all military votes received by the deadline will be added to the official final count.
Also, Condos said something I hadn’t heard before: “We encouraged the Department of Justice to file suit, because we didn’t have the authority to extend the deadline.” Which explains why a settlement came so quickly after the filing: the two parties had agreed on a resolution before the suit was filed.
After the jump: the cost of major-party status, and a smattering of votes for Annette Smith.
The fact that the Liberty Union Party regained major-party status (thanks to the fact that LUP candidate Mary Alice Herbert was the only option to Condos on the ballot for Secretary of State) will cost the state roughly $80,000. That’s because the state will be obligated to conduct a primary for the LUP in 2014.
Exact numbers for write-in candidates were not released, only an overall “write-in” total for each race. The state doesn’t tally individual totals unless they might affect the outcome of a race. (All the write-in ballots are on file, so anyone who feels so inclined can go to the office and do their own count.) But it can be inferred that multipurpose activist Annette Smith drew somewhere between 400 and 700 write-in votes for Governor.
That’s because in the races for US Senate, US Congress, Lieutenant Governor and Auditor, the number of write-ins was almost equal — 250-275 each. For Treasurer, it was 198. It was higher for Secretary of State, 876, due in large part to the absence of a Republican or Progressive candidate. (Well, Condos was the Republican and Progressive candidate as well as the Democrat, but you know what I mean.) There were 588 write-ins for Attorney General. But in the race for Governor, there were 969 write-ins. If we assume a baseline of 250-300 write-ins in any race, and give Smith full credit for the increase in gubernatorial write-ins, that still leaves her short of 700 votes. Which strikes me as a rather poor showing.
I know that, as my esteemed colleague Paul Heintz has pointed out, it’s hard to stage a write-in campaign and it’s hard to get voters to cast write-in ballots. But still, Smith’s constituency (centered on anti-wind power activists) was a strongly motivated group, easily identifiable and targetable by a candidate who is also a highly visible leader in their cause.
If the anti-wind movement is growing and spreading, shouldn’t Smith have been able to attract more than a few hundred votes? I think that’s fair to say.
Electoral trivia: When you look at the county-by-county breakdowns, you see how dominant Chittenden County is. Nearly 26% of all Vermont votes were cast in Chittenden County; no other county had as much as 10% of the statewide vote. Chittenden also led the way in absentee ballots, with 30%. Most other counties were closer to 20% absentee. (The statewide absentee rate was 25%.)
The top vote-getter in the state was Jim Condos. (Hmm, the guy in charge of counting the votes. Hmm.) With no major-party opposition, he drew 225,801 votes. Peter Welch was second at 208,600, ahead of Bernie Sanders by 752 votes. Barack Obama was next, with 199,239.
And Condos is expecting lower turnout in 2014, with no Presidential election and also no race for U.S. Senate in Vermont. His guess is somewhere in the upper 50s to lower 60s, compared to this year’s 68%.