Polls will close within the hour – at 7 p.m. – on this primary day in Vermont. Although many expect a low turnout, clerks reported a steady number of voters coming to the polls this afternoon.
All of Vermont’s statewide offices are up for election this year. The parties are picking their candidates for the general election today.
Vermont’s most visible primary contest pits a write-in and four balloted Democrats who want to challenge incumbent Republican Governor Phil Scott in the general election. He also faces a primary challenger. There are also Democratic and Republican primaries for the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, challenging incumbents Peter Welch and Bernie Sanders, respectively. Local races and primaries for state legislative seats will also be decided.
Vermont Democratic Party spokesman R. Christopher Di Mezzo believes the most exciting race is the Democratic gubernatorial faceoff. “We have 4 excellent candidates. We’ve been making some national attention here with maybe some of our quirky election laws with Ethan Sonneborn, the 14 year-old running for governor. But also on a more serious note we have a potentially historic election of Christine Hallquist who would be the nation’s first nominee that is transgender for the office of governor. And so I think we really have an interesting race here in the governor’s primary.”
But because it is a midterm year, Di Mezzo expects a low turnout. “There doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of excitement for this particular election. I think what’s driving people to the polls is definitely a desire for change in the leadership at the governor’s level and also a renewed excitement of course for Senator Sanders who is also on the ballot. Anecdotally we’re seeing in some locations turnout is higher than expected and in some locations it’s about what we expected and of course in some locations it is lower. And that really runs the gamut. You know it remains to be seen what this turnout going to be but again it looks like it might be on the lower side.”
South Burlington Town Clerk Donna Kinville is the President of the Vermont Municipal Clerks’ and Treasurers’ Association. At mid-afternoon, she said voter traffic was steady. “We’ve actually had the most absentee ballots cast for a state primary than we have ever had in South Burlington. So that was a good sign and throughout the day as I’ve kind of gone around to our three polling locations it’s been steady. So the people are out and voting.”
Kinville’s research from two years ago found that South Burlington’s turnout for the August primary was about 30 percent of registered voters. “Which isn’t a bad turnout for a primary and I am projecting that based on the flow of people in today that we’re probably going to be close to that again if not beat it a little bit.”
Vermont has an open primary. Regardless of party affiliation voters are given ballots for the Republican, Democratic and Progressive parties. They choose any one of the party ballots and must reject the others.
Polls in Vermont close at 7 p.m.