Smith asks for recount; Vermont GOP chair cries foul, accuses Progressives and Democrats of collusion

Annette Smith at Washington Superior Court. Photo by Anne Galloway

Annette Smith lost by just one vote in the Progressive primary race for governor, according to a new canvassing report from the Secretary of State’s office.

The new results showed she had 370 votes, while her opponent Martha Abbott, the Progressive Party chair, received 371 ballots cast.

Smith, who was drafted in the race by supporters as a write-in candidate, immediately went to Washington Superior Court to request a recount.

Smith, an environmentalist and anti-wind advocate, is pursuing the recount because she wants an opportunity to debate Gov. Peter Shumlin who has been a proponent of industrial wind power.

Abbott was declared the winner on Tuesday, and she immediately said she would not compete in a three-way contest with state Sen. Randy Brock, the Republican in the race, and Gov. Peter Shumlin, the Democratic incumbent because she supports Shumlin.

The new canvassing report was ordered by Jim Condos, the Vermont Secretary of State, on Wednesday. Condos said human errors had been made in the certification of votes from two towns — Walden and Hardwick.

Meanwhile, the chair of the Vermont Republican Party is crying foul.

Jack Lindley, chair of the party, says the way the primary election was handled suggests there was collusion between the Shumlin campaign and the Progressive Party nominee, who has “miraculously has been declared a winner by a suspect process, who has now announced she didn’t really want the nomination after all; a person who has since declared she will decline a nomination she won in favor of Governor Shumlin.”

On Thursday Lindley wanted to remove the GOP signature of approval from the original canvassing report, which was issued and signed on Tuesday, but he was told by a representative from the Vermont Attorney General’s office that he was not permitted to do so under state statute.

He declared that “this entire process has served to cast doubt on the validity, accuracy and accountability of the Secretary of State’s office and the whole election process.”

Lindley says he won’t waive a five-day notification rule that would allow the Secretary of State’s office to ensure that overseas military personnel receive ballots in time for the General Election. He said the onus is on Condos to prove that the five-day period would in fact have an impact on overseas ballots. All three major parties must approve the waiver in order for it to go into effect.

The Secretary of State said Lindley was trying to score political points.

“I would not understand why anyone would want to slow the process down at this point,” Condos said. “The only thing I can think of is politics.”

In an interview with reporters, Condos said he called for the new canvassing report as soon as he found out there were anomalies because he “wanted to make it right.” He said he took full responsibility for the mistakes that were made, even though he had no control over the town reports.

“Our job is to get this right,” Condos said. “I’m the chief elections officer, therefore I’ll take the heat for this.”

“Every vote should count,” he continued. “Voting is the basis of our democracy.”

Editor’s note: This story was updated at 9:31 a.m. Sept. 7.

Anne Galloway

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16 Comments on "Smith asks for recount; Vermont GOP chair cries foul, accuses Progressives and Democrats of collusion"


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Benjamin Eastwood
4 years 4 months ago
This isn’t the first electoral snafu Condos has had this year. Earlier restrictions he placed on the Rocky Anderson campaign were found to be unconstitutional by Judge Michael Kupersmith in Washington County superior court, and Judge Kupersmith granted an injunction against the Sec. State. Mr. Condos then tried to get the Vermont Supreme court to stay the injunction, however the supreme court refused to do so, noting that the state did not have a likelihood of prevailing in the appeal. The state attorney for the case has indicated that Condos will abide by the court order and place Mr. Anderson… Read more »
4 years 4 months ago
Mr Eastwood proceeds to attack me personally because my office follows Vt Law. The issue revolves around accepting originals instead of fax/copies for petition signatures. The problems of faxes were demonstrated in the process of tallying the votes for last weeks primary. The Attorney General’s office was surprised and disagrees with Judge Kupersmith’s decision and we are following the legal process. We did ask for a stay which was denied (and BTW usually not approved) BUT the VT Supreme Court will hear the case and clarify the issue. The Attorney General’s office believes that requiring original documents does not violate… Read more »
Barbara Fenhagen
4 years 4 months ago
This morning I checked with our Town Clerk to see if my vote for Annette had been counted. I learned that it had not and was told that if I had not filled in the oval, it would not have been picked up by the machine. When I asked if, now knowing that I had voted for Ms. Smith, would the ballot be looked over, I was told that there was going to be a recount which was in the hands of the Superior Court and not here locally. I know of several other votes that were cast for Smith… Read more »
Charles Karter
4 years 4 months ago

Mr. Condos, where does it say in vermont law, that your not allowed to use copies and you have to use originals. Because as far as I can tell, you just made that up, and the logical reason would be for partisan politics. Also why are you fighting so hard against having candidates on the ballot, opening up democracy is a good thing, Spending taxpayer dollars to limit democracy…. not so much.

Benjamin Eastwood
4 years 4 months ago
When I see a foul I call foul. In Mr. Condos’ previous primary challenge, he attacked his opponent for not being partisan enough. In this election, the Progressive party leadership has indicated clearly that the party does not want a Progressive challenger to Peter Shumlin. Martha Abbot mentioned her intention to decline the nomination if she got it during the state committee meeting. At that same meeting, Mr. Condos’ nomination for Sec. State on the Progressive ticket was voted on and accepted. Now, this write in candidate, Annette Smith, is within a hairs breadth of upsetting what looks from the… Read more »
Randy Koch
4 years 4 months ago

Do the Progressives even have it together enough to “carefully execute” anything at this point after they executed an electoral campaign in order to decline an office?

I don’t think Eastwood’s accusation makes much sense. Plus from the sounds of it, Condos won’t lay a finger on the recount, just the country clerks and the Superior Court judge.

Benjamin Eastwood
4 years 4 months ago
I’m not making baseless accusations, I am just posting the events that have happened and trying to make sense of them, and pointing out how when you have partisan officials conducting elections, it is impossible to show impartiality. Believe me, I don’t want to agree with the republican chairman on anything, but the pattern of events this election cycle is hard to dismiss lightly. Everything I have listed is accurate. Martha Abbot was even quoted in as saying she intended to run and drop out to prevent a Progressive candidate from challenging Shumlin. Here’s the quote and link: ‘Vermont’s… Read more »
esteban folsom
4 years 4 months ago

i was disappointed to see that someone would run in a primary,
fully intending not to pursue to the general election, just to

stop another from running and representing what’s left of the
progressive party.

if ms. abbott supports the democrats – she should fall in with them
but to deny ms. smith – a chance to speak out – seems disingenuous

4 years 4 months ago

I would think that Martha Abbot, who is party chair and has been involved with the Progressive Coalition for many years is entitled to decline a run, especially when she declared her intentions all along.
Meanwhile, Annette Smith has never been involved with the Coalition.
The Coalition made a tactical decision not to run against Shumlin because he supports and has supported the Coalition’s two major concerns: Single-payer health care and shutting down VT Yankee.
BTW, the Governor’s support of both of these issues must be terrifying to the Nuclear and Insurance Industries.
Hmmmm. Conspiracy?

Benjamin Eastwood
4 years 4 months ago
When Martha Abbot filed her paperwork to run she had to sign a consent form to put her name on the ballot. If she did not have the intention of running she should not have signed the form, nor gathered the signatures. Everbody that signed her petitions of nomination was thus prevented from endorsing a candidate that would actually run and represent them, because By Vermont law you may only sign as many petitions as there are slots available. I wonder how many folks that signed were aware that she was not intending to run? I know if I had… Read more »
esteban folsom
4 years 4 months ago

well bob
that may be true about abbott and smith
oddly enough that’s exactly what i said
when i shook the governors hand before the election
shut it down and single payer – everyone covered

why someone would run – just to silence another
is symptomatic of a party at a dead end, in my view

oh yeah
i can assure you – they are not scared of anyone

Tiki Archambeau
4 years 4 months ago

Your allegation is that Martha Abbott ran “just to silence another.”

However, Abbott was in the race and followed the electoral process long before Annette Smith entered the race. Smith, on the other hand, chose to run on the Progressive ticket despite doing nothing to appeal to Progressives at-large. She has one issue alone to sound off about. In fact, I would argue that Smith’s approach is riskier to the Progressive platform than Abbott’s.

So the question comes back to you: Why not consider Smith’s single-issue campaign an act of silencing the many Progressive voices who voted for Abbott?

Benjamin Eastwood
4 years 4 months ago
It’s not my allegation, it is Martha Abbot’s own words. If Martha hadn’t actually said her intention was to block another person from running, that would be one thing, but in the article I linked to above she is quoted as that being her intention. That was what she did last election too, and at the state committee meeting she also said she was unlikely to run. There is a difference between making allegations and stating facts and presenting evidence, which I have done. To be a candidate, you sign a form saying you are willing to run. If… Read more »
esteban folsom
4 years 4 months ago

ok tiki
it sounds as if some of you voted for someone
that is not actually in the race, for governor

please tell me how this furthers the discussion
in any way that could possible matter, to us all

Fred Woogmaster
4 years 4 months ago

The two party machine, and the obscene money that fuels it, is asphyxiating democracy as it diminishes the liberty of those without financial resources. I will support any legitimate challenge to that machine. Annette Smith represents that kind of challenge.

Fred Woogmaster
4 years 4 months ago

While Annette Smith has been most associated with environmental causes I believe her not to be a “single issue” candidate but rather that the single issue is representative of a much broader one. It will be our loss if her voice cannot be heard in the debates. If Governor Shumlin and Senator Brock agreed to include her – would it happen?

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