Opinion: Secret ballots a very bad idea
I appreciated the recent opinion letter from my Democratic counterpart, Bob Zeliff, regarding the outcome of the Milne/Shumlin race and the necessity of a legislative vote to determine the next governor.
Mr. Zeliff is welcome to his opinion as to what voters intended, and it will shock no one that we disagree in our interpretations of “the will of the people” as divined from vote totals. I believe Vermonters sent a clear message that they are less than enamored with Gov. Shumlin and that they’ve had their fill of his mismanagement of the state.
All eyes now turn to the Legislature, who will vote in January to determine the state’s leadership for the next two years. As to the requirements of the Vermont Constitution, Mr. Zeliff’s quote is selectively dishonest; the Constitution puts no requirements on the Legislature’s vote except that the person elected must have been one of the top three vote-getters in the election. The complete applicable language from Article 47 of the Vermont Constitution is:
“If, at any time, there shall be no election (elsewhere indicated that it must be by majority), of Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or Treasurer, of the State, the Senate and House of Representatives shall by a joint ballot, elect to fill the office, not filled as aforesaid, one of the three candidates for such office (if there be so many) for whom the greatest number of votes shall have been returned.”
Clearly, the Legislature is free to choose any one of Shumlin, Milne or Feliciano as the next governor. Whatever method they use to make their decision — popular vote, respecting the vote of their district, or pure party loyalty — each legislator should make their vote known, not hide behind the shroud of a secret ballot. There’s enough lack of accountability in Montpelier already.
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