Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Annette Smith Standing For Office Of Vermont Governor


Press Contact: 802 498 3218

Annette Smith Standing For Office Of Vermont Governor
Independent Building Statewide Write-In Campaign for Election Day 2012

Danby, Vermont resident Annette Smith announces today her intent to stand for the office of Vermont governor as an independent write-in candidate today.

For more than a decade, Smith has served as an articulate and effective voice for working Vermonters. As the leader of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, she has effectively challenged the power of big corporations and their lawyers, lobbyists and politicians on behalf of Vermont citizens across the state.

“I am standing for governor as an independent populist candidate drafted by the people of Vermont to give voice to Vermonters,” Smith explains. “I am working to bring the voices of “We the people" back into our state government, to counter the influence of big corporations, and to support our Vermont communities by bringing back local control to the lives of Vermont’s citizens.”

Visit for more information about how you can get involved.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

SOS: recount volunteers please

We just got word yesterday that we need to have a huge list of volunteer re-counters to the court by this coming Monday (10 September) at 1pm.  The recount itself will start Thursday at 9am.  It will be carried out at each of the county seats of the 14 Vermont counties.  The process should not take very long for any given county since there are only 1003 Progressive Party ballots for the whole state.

This is about much more than who wins this particular election.  This is also a way of challenging the the grip of the two (or three) parties, of letting in some air into a very closed electoral system.

As a vote re-counter you will be on a team of 4 others.  In principle, 2 on the team will "represent" Annette and two, Martha.  One member will "call" out a ballot result, an opposing representative will look at the ballot and confirm the call.  A third member will record the call and a fourth will double-check that recording.

If you are willing to go to the county seat of your county at 9am Thursday 10 September, then please email me listing contact information required by the court:

My email:

Info required by court:


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Last certification... until the next one

I came to the re-certification session on my bike and passed a mammoth 2 story high satellite truck from Channel 5 parked on State and Elm St.  Here' (left) is the intrepid Channel 5eporter , Stewart Ledbetter, with a tiny camera taking a picture of Jack Lindley, the GOP "canvasser"  (Ledbetter jokingly asked him to stop grinning like he'd just left a tavern.)  Lindley was there as a canvasser to certify the vote.  The rest of the press showed up,  the Dem canvasser, Condos the Secretary of State and his intrepid Elections Division head, Kathy Sheele.

This session was supposed to be a formality fixing their screwup by adding 9 votes from Hardwick and 6 from Walden.   But when it came to signing on the dotted line, Jack Lindley instead delivered this polemic:  (this may have been why he was grinning beforehand):

Someone asked Sheele to summarize what the GOP stalwart had said. She replied, He basically called us incompetent assholes."  He accused the office of not being able to organize a two car funeral let alone an election with a thousand or two write-ins.  He also darkly accused the Dems and Progs of "colluding".  He wasn't at all specific on this score.  Maybe Shumlin will throw Abbott a bone for running as his surrogate;  time will tell.  

The system over there does seem a little loosely wound.  The directions on the ballot contradict those in the law but Sec. Condos is too stubborn to hear of changing the directions which would take him about one microsecond.  Apropos of nothing, he says the ballot has been like this for years and that in California the write-in voter must fill in the little oval to be counted.  He thinks the vote counters need more training.  

So the official vote count now is 371 Abbott vs 370 Smith.  Annette went right from the canvassing today to submit a petition demanding a recount.  The recount will take place in Montpelier toward the middle of next week and we are allowed to have counters or observers present.  Write in if you are interested in watching slow motion democracy in action.  Given how loosey-goosey everything has been up to now, we can only hold on to our hats for the next episode.    

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Good News

September 5, 2012

For immediate release

Contact: Jim Condos, 802-828-2148

[phone] 802-828-2363 [fax] 802-828-2496
James C. Condos, Secretary of State Brian H. Leven, Deputy Secretary

Sec’y of State Jim Condos Calls for Special Meeting of the Primary Canvassing Committee
Montpelier, VT- “Voting is at the very basis and core of our democracy. It is important that every vote counts,” stated Secretary of State Jim Condos.

In the rush to complete the August 28th primary canvassing report over the long holiday weekend, human errors were made in the calculation of write-in votes for the Progressive Gubernatorial race.
In the interest of insuring that the process to produce the General Election ballot is accurate and moves quickly, our office has called a Special Meeting of the Canvassing Committee at 4pm on Thursday, September 6th at the Secretary of State’s office at 128 State Street, Montpelier, to certify the corrected results of the Progressive Gubernatorial Primary.

These corrected results place the two candidates within the 2% margin so that the losing candidate will qualify to request a recount.

It is our hope that if the losing candidate wishes to have a recount, they will file immediately with the Superior Court so we can move the process along. To meet Federal law, we must have Vermont’s general election ballots in the hands of the Vermont Town Clerks by September 21 so that they can send ballots to Overseas and Military Voters by the 45th day before the general election (September 22).

“As I grew up, my father always told me that if a mistake is made, own up to it, learn from it, and move on!” stated Secretary Condos.

Jim Condos is Vermont’s Secretary of State.

(larger font and green, mine.)


the summary sheet for the Progressive ballot in Walden

So the three of us, Stephanie, Carole, and I were at it for a few hours in the Sec of State's plush but airless conference room for several hours going through the sheets (about 12 for each town) that summarized the voting results.  We found a lot (187) votes for Annette written in on the Dem and Rep ballots so of the four leading candidates for governor, Annette was the third most popular choice.  It also looks like there will certainly be a recount now that the Sec of State has admitted there was a booboo where Walden was concerned.  This result makes it likely that she will be invited to participate in the General Election debates, be they ever so few.

We are also hoping to get the language on the standard primary ballot changed sl it conforms with the law.  The ballot should be clear that a write-in counts even if the little oval to the left of the write in blank was not filled in.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

state of play

Empty ovals
The instructions on the ballots say that write-ins, to be counted, must fill in the little oval at the end of the write-in name space.  But the law governing elections says, no you do not have to fill in the oval.

We have heard that some vote counters were confused about the unfilled ovals on write-ins.  It seems quite possible Annette may have lost votes because of this confusion.

It also obviously doesn't reflect very well on the Secretary of State Condos or the lawyer in charge of elections, Kathy Sheele to have created this confusion.


As earlier reported the official vote tally is:

  • 993 total Prog ballots pulled
  • 371 votes for Abbott
  • 354 votes for Smith
  • 28 votes for other write-ins
  • 240 ballots, by inference, where the governor line was blank

The law (17 V.S.A. § 2601) states that a candidate can call for a recount only

if the difference between the number of votes cast for a winning candidate and the number of votes cast for a losing candidate is less than two percent of the total votes cast for all the candidates for an office
At this moment,

  • total votes for governor = 753
  • percentage for Abbott = 371/753 = 49.27%
  • percentage for Smith = 354/753 =  47.01%
  • difference between Smith and Abbott = 2.26% which is too much for a recount. 

But if, as looks likely,  9 Annette votes in Walden were uncounted, the difference becomes 1.18% and a recount could be demanded.

As you can see,  there were in theory 240 Progressive ballots turned in where there was no vote for governor at all, neither Abbott nor Smith nor any other write-in.  Maybe that is exactly what happened. But it's also possible that there were towns where, as has been reported to us, the vote counters did not understand that a write-in vote does not require the little oval to be filled in.  

We heard of other problems too.  In one town, write-ins for Annette seem to have been recorded as for Lieutenant-Governor, not Governor.  Other towns where no write-ins were recorded even though people have informed us that they wrote in Annette.  

Unreported GOP or Dem write-ins 
If you decided to pull a Democratic ballot, perhaps to vote in the highly contested AG race, but you wrote in Annette or anyone else for governor, your preference was not recorded.  Around 1,200 Dem ballots had write-ins for gov, but who were they for?  Annette Smith?  Porky Pig?  In order to find out, we will have to go back over 5 huge boxes full of returns and count the Dem and Rep write-ins ourselves.

This is exactly what we mean to do but many hands would make light work.  Get in touch if you have time to help tabulate.  Rate of pay:   12 chads per hour.


certified results

993 Progressive ballots were pulled

371 votes for Martha Abbott
354 votes for Annette

That means, according to the certified results, 268 people pulled a Progressive ballot but did not vote in the governor's race.

The Sec of State does not tabulate the names of write-in votes on the Democratic ticket.

Nobody from the Sec of State's office could explain why there is a discrepancy between instructions on the ballot and the requirements of the statutes.

live from the secretary of state

Not many people here yet.

crunch time

Secretary of State office, 128 State St

This is from the last page of a 5-page article in today's Free Press by Terri Hallenbeck

Primary results official today
Representatives of the Democratic, Progressive and Republican parties will sit down with Secretary of State Jim Condos at 10 a.m. today to “canvass” the results of voting on Primary Election Day.
When officials “canvass” election results they review them and agree whether or not they seem valid.
Condos said if his staff was able to post unofficial results over the holiday weekend as they worked to create the election report for the Tuesday meeting, “It will not be official until signed off by the three parties and myself.”
This morning is when the primary’s low turnout will be confirmed, final tallies in contested races will be declared, and the names of successful write-in candidates will become known.
For example, today is the earliest that supporters of Annette Smith will be able to find out for sure if they secured enough write-in votes to defeat and replace Progressive gubernatorial nominee Martha Abbott.
Smith supporters undertook a late-in-the-game campaign to get their candidate on the ballot as a way to bring up certain issues, such as their opposition to industrial wind power and large-scale electric utility mergers, during the fall gubernatorial debates.
Smith of Danby, executive director of Vermonters for a Clean Environment, was “drafted” for the write-in campaign and didn’t say before the primary whether she would accept the Progressive nomination if her supporters mustered enough votes to get her name on the ballot.
Even before knowing if she would be a candidate, however, Condos said state law required Smith to decide whether she would stay in the race. Aug. 31 was the deadline for all “validly nominated candidates” to withdraw.
“Am I going to withdraw? I’m not a candidate yet,” Smith said Thursday. “I want to see what the results are.”
Smith said she had heard concerns that unofficial vote tallies from some towns weren’t showing as many write-ins as supporters believed had been cast.
“I want to get a fair count,” Smith said. Given the voter concerns she had heard, she said, “I don’t see any fair outcome of this except a recount.”
Barring recounts in this or any other race, Condos expected his election staff would have the final lists of general election candidates for every community by the end of the week.
That means that by Friday, candidates must have communicated whether they will run with more than one political label, if they received more than one nomination.
Ballots for the November election will be sent to town clerks by Sept. 21.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Is Shumlin chicken?

Digger reports that Shumlin is just too busy to attend more than 5 debates this time around vs the 13 he went to just two years back.  Digger asked his man MacLean about facing up to AARP or to Annette Smith:
MacLean says potential guff from AARP members was “absolutely not” a factor in the governor’s decision. Nor is the specter of debating with Annette Smith, an opponent of industrial wind who is a write-in candidate in the Progressive Party primary and may win enough votes to run in the General Election (final results will be available Tuesday).
The man says the gov is out there creating jobs just about 24/7.  I often wonder what exactly it is that presidents and governors do to create jobs.  Seems like that what business folks get the big bucks to do.

Anyway, It is amazing how much these guys dislike facing the public. Year after year someone introduces legislation to give the governor a four year term of office, though I don't know Shumlin's own position on this.   The standard complaint is that campaigning at such short intervals costs a lot and takes them away from all that job creating or whatever it is they would rather be doing.  To the rest of us it represents a chance to make them explain how they are representing our interests.  They could cut costs a lot by using the tv time offered gratis for debates.  

If he ever can take time off from creating those jobs some day, I hope someone will ask Shumlin about the numerous jobs that will be destroyed (gently though, by attrition) at CVPS--that is, apart from those in the executive suite  where the parachutes were no doubt golden.    

counting every vote

chads, hanging
In theory, all the precinct by precinct results were delivered to the Sec of State yesterday.  According to Sec Condos they will be counted Monday,  I guess this means they will work on a state holiday.  Then Tuesday the results will be "certified", whatever that means.

It sounds like Vermont's optical scan tabulators may result in some write-in votes not being counted.  If you write-in a name and then fill in the little oval that write-in line,  the machine will kick out the ballot for someone to tally the write-in.  But on the other hand, if you don't fill in the oval, will those counting votes actually end up tabulating the write-in at all?

The directions on the ballot say to fill in the oval when you do a write-in vote.  But as far as we can tell, the law does not require that the oval be filled in.  What matters instead is the "intent" of the voter expressed by the name written in.

If there needs to be a recount, can a write-in candidate legally demand it?  If the machine tally process is really out of line with the law, is the Sec of State able to order a recount on his own steam?

Hang on to your chads until Tuesday.