Executive Director, Vermont Progressive Party
Chair, Vermont Progressive Party
Montpelier, VT – The long awaited recount of the Orange-1 House race between Progressive Susan Hatch Davis and Republican Robert Frenier was abruptly canceled Wednesday morning. House members were told that a sealed ballot bag from the town of Chelsea was opened by the Chelsea Town Clerk onDecember 29th, without two witnesses present as required by statute. The town clerk was following directions from state election officials.
Rep. Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, Progressive House Caucus Chair, stated that “I just became aware of the issue with the ballot bag this morning. I would like to know who knew about this and why we were not told until the morning of the recount.”
The House passed a set of rules for the recount which required the process to be halted if it was found that any of the ballot bags were improperly handled. Robert Frenier was then seated. Chesnut-Tangerman noted that in the absence of a recount, the entire House process had merely certified that Mr. Frenier won the election, rather than actually verifying it.
“This has been a disturbing situation,” said Rep. Cindy Weed, P/D – Enosburg, who is a member of the House Committee on Government Operations. “It doesn’t settle well. One thing is for sure: Susan’s appeal to the House around her Orange-1 election and recount, and our own deep dive into the subsequent recount, highlighted the need for serious reform of election statute and rules.”
Weed went on to say that “We will now work to ensure that future elections treat absentee ballots consistently from town to town, recounts are conducted in a manner that ensures accuracy, and all ballots are examined during the recount process. We would not have known the depth of the problem unless we underwent this consuming but important process. Every Vermonter deserves to know that their vote is counted and that the process is totally accurate.”