Condos: Vt. clerks should have to report results
MONTPELIER -- Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos says he wants to require that city and town clerks report election results to his office on election night, but the plan got mostly negative reviews from a sampling of town and city clerks on Thursday.
Condos, a Democrat in his first term, said he wants his office to become the central clearing house for results on election nights for candidates, the media and interested members of the public.
He said he’ll ask the Legislature to mandate election-night reporting by the clerks. Currently, their duty is to report results to his office within three days after an election. The secretary of state then tallies official results and releases them the week after an election.
"It only becomes a real tool for Vermonters, the media, the parties and the candidates if everyone is involved in it," Condos said of what would be a new mandate on clerks.
Condos has been running what he called a pilot project this year, asking clerks to report totals to his office on election nights for the March presidential primary, Tuesday’s state primary and the upcoming November election. He said about three-quarters of clerks reported results on Tuesday.
Annette Cappy, the town clerk of Brattleboro, said she would welcome required reporting.
She said her office gets dozens of requests for the latest totals from candidates, media outlets and others as votes are counted. Condos’ plan would mean "one set of results going to one place and then we’re done," Cappy said.
Marshfield’s Bobbi Brimblecombe took the opposite view. "No, not at 2 a.m." when vote-counting often is done, she said. Another chore added to an 18- or 20-hour day wouldn’t set well with her, she said. She said she already provides results to an email list of media outlets and others who have requested them.
Others worried about the technology. Condos’ office has been using a web site that allows clerks to enter their results. He said one advantage for the local officials is that having entered the data once, they could use it again when they compile the official voting record later for the final tally.
Some clerks complained of bugs in the system and an inability to load data on Tuesday, said Steve Jeffrey, executive director of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns.
"We (the League) have not taken an official position" on Condos’ proposal, Jeffrey said. "But I see some obstacles to be overcome before we would be embracing it."
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