One week before Town Meeting Day, Stowe Town Clerk Alison Kaiser realized local voters, looking for help on the Secretary of State's website, were being sent to the wrong polling place.
"Yeah, it's a little frustrating," Kaiser admitted. She said access to accurate information is key to keep voters turning out. "It does differ from town to town, from election to election, so if they could probably get that information up right away that would be most helpful," she said.
"There's a tremendous amount of information on the Secretary of State's website and we need to bring some kind of consistency and bring it into the 21st century," said Jim Condos, back in October of 2010 and prior to his election. Condos promised to overhaul the website, making it easier and more efficient. Three years later Channel 3 News found polling place errors, outdated election information and old statistics.
Reporter Jennifer Reading: If Stowe is randomly wrong, how many others could be wrong?
Secretary of State Jim Condos: I don't know. We'll check into it. That's all I can say.
The site incorrectly links Town Meeting Day voters to polling places for general and primary elections. Condos blames the error on the town clerks, who didn't call to tell him there was an issue. "I was not aware of it. It would be nice if we were aware of it. If people would call us and let us know when it is wrong," he said.
He maintains that although the elections information is old, it's still accurate -- like a 2008 welcome page from the prior administration.
"We don't have the original files to those documents, so I can't go in and make changes to those. I'd have to completely re-write those," Condos said.
Condos said it's a matter of priorities. Despite campaign promises, he said he was forced to divert resources to the corporations division and its crumbling technology system. "I didn't take office until 2011 so, you know, the information was outdated before I got here. We're working on it. We're trying to update the information. Again, it costs money. It takes time," he said.
"It's an opportunity to engage with other citizens. Find out how other people see things," said Bruce Lisman with Campaign for Vermont. The group is taking matters into their own hands. Over the past two weeks Campaign for Vermont contacted every town clerk in the state and compiled Town Meeting details under one tab on their website. They're hoping it inspires more Vermonters to remain civically active. "We're just in this case, really trying to help, and I think we have," Lisman said.
Condos said two years was an unrealistic timetable to unveil a new website. He now hopes it will debut by the end of this year. Since our meeting with the secretary Monday, the polling place data has been removed from the website.
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