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Primary Day Brings Write-In Choices For Vermont Voters


It is primary day in Vermont. While voting could result in some cross-party nominations, in high-level races, a low turnout is anticipated.

Vermonters are headed to the polls today to choose their nominees for state offices in contested races.

There is a Democratic primary for governor. Little-known H.B. Paige is challenging second-term incumbent Peter Shumlin. Paige is also running for attorney general.
There are three Republicans seeking the gubernatorial nomination: Scott Milne, Steve Berry and Emily Peyton. But a Libertarian also wants the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Dan Feliciano has mounted a write-in campaign.

Progressive Dean Corren is also seeking write-in votes. He’s attempting to win the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor. Corren has no opposition in that race.

Middlebury College Professor Emeritus of Political Science Eric Davis finds three things intriguing about the primaries.  “First is how low will the turnout be? Second will Dean Corren, the Progressive who is running for Lieutenant Governor, get enough write-in votes on the Democratic ballot to be listed on the general election ballot as a Democrat in addition to a Progressive? He needs 250 write-ins. And then the third question is how well will write-in candidate Dan Feliciano do on the Republican side?  Feliciano is claiming that he’d be more effective making the case against single payer than Scott Milne, who is the Republican supported by the Republican leadership in Vermont.”

Davis says it’s difficult to gauge the outcome of the primary, especially the GOP gubernatorial race, due to the write-in factor.  “Corren has a somewhat easier situation in terms of write-ins because there’s no name on the Democratic ballot for Lieutenant Governor. Feliciano has a more difficult challenge because there are three names on the Republican ballot, one of them being Scott Milne the party organization’s supported candidate.  So Feliciano has to convince people to write in his name instead of voting for one of the people who are already there. And that’s more difficult. Normally before an election I have a pretty good sense of how things are going to turn out. But the turn-out in the Republican primary is likely to be so low that I really don’t have a good sense of this. I’m pretty sure that Scott Milne will come in first.  But I just don’t know how many write-in votes Feliciano will get.”

Davis expects turnout in the statewide primary to be one of the lowest in recent Vermont history - if not THE lowest. He expects fewer than 10 percent of the 440,000 registered voters to come to the polls in part because there is no presidential race,  no U.S. Senate race, and incumbents are running for re-election in all statewide offices.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos notes there are primaries in down-ticket races. With a low turnout anticipated, he says getting out to vote is crucial.  “In Vermont the primary is considered an open primary. It’s important to emphasize that everyone should get out and exercise their constitutional right to vote. It’s important to all candidates, but especially in a low turn-out it’ll be even more important for the down-ticket races for the House and Senate.”

Due to the large number of expected write-ins, Condos explained that the results of some key races may not be known for a week. “This year we expect to see a large number of write-ins. The town clerks on election night they report to our office a total of the write-in votes by race, but not who those votes went to. They will report to us in the following two or three days as to which candidates got the write-in votes. And then Tuesday morning at 10 o’clock is the official canvass of the four major parties. So that’s when we’ll probably know.”

All polls close at 7 p.m.