By Laura Krantz, VTDigger.org
Lawmakers in January will cast secret ballots to choose Vermont’s next governor, according to state officials and a memo prepared for lawmakers by their attorney.
The one-page memo, obtained by VTDigger, outlines the procedure that will take place when lawmakers convene in January.
The memo cites an 1832 court case and a 1955 attorney general’s opinion and says the word “ballot has been interpreted to mean secret ballot.”
The Legislature is set to elect a governor in January because no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote in last week’s election, a requirement of the state Constitution.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin won 46.36 percent of the vote, Republican Scott Milne won 45.10 percent and Libertarian Dan Feliciano 4.36 percent, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office.
Shumlin’s lead over Milne was 2,434 votes.
Historically, when the Legislature votes in such situations, lawmakers usually – but not always – elect the candidate who received the most votes. In the history of Vermont, 23 previous elections for governor have gone to the Legislature. Only three of those times did the Legislature not give the election to the candidate who won the most votes. The most recent exception was in 1853.
Shumlin has declared victory, even though the results are not final. Milne has not conceded and may call for a recount. The deadline to ask for a recount is Wednesday, the same day the secretary of state releases the official count.
Secretary of State Jim Condos’ office is in charge of preparing the 180 ballots. Condos said lawmakers could choose not to vote by secret ballot.
“If they wanted to, they could do whatever they want,” Condos said. He agreed, however, that “secret” is assumed in the word ballot.
The vote will take place Thursday, Jan. 8, the second day of the session, Senate Secretary John Bloomer said.
A candidate must get a majority of votes to win. If there is a tie and if after two votes a person has not been selected, the Legislature’s rules require a third vote between the two candidates who received the most secret ballot votes.
Incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin won 46.36 percent of the vote, Republican Scott Milne won 45.10 percent and Libertarian Dan Feliciano 4.36 percent, according to unofficial results from the Secretary of State’s Office. Shumlin’s lead over Milne was 2,434 votes.