Candidates make final pitch to voters ahead of Vermont primary election

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 6:26 PM EDT
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BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Vermont’s primary election is Tuesday. Monday, political candidates hit the pavement in a last-ditch effort to get their names out and mobilize voters.

It’s the final push before Tuesday’s August primaries, where Vermonters will select who they want to run in the November elections.

There were ads, endorsements, honk and waves, and lawn signs.

Molly Gray, a Democrat vying for her party’s nomination for U.S. House, touted her previous work in Washington, D.C., and her ties with Congressman Peter Welch and Sen. Patrick Leahy.

“I’m going to show up in Washington every day remembering where I’m from, remembering who elected me and remembering the hard work that needs to be done,” Gray said.

Becca Balint, another Democrat vying for her party’s nomination for U.S. House, pointed to her track record of creating laws and building consensus around policies at the Vermont Statehouse.

“I want to be effective in Congress. I will work with anyone in Congress that is working in good faith to deliver for Vermont,” Balint said.

Louis Meyers, also vying for his party’s nomination for U.S. House, went door to door, pitching himself as a pragmatic Democrat.

“If we’re going to make progress, it’s going to be step by step moderate Republicans and moderate Republicans are going to have to come together,” Meyers said.

Primaries generally have a lower turnout than the general election.

Over the last 10 primary elections, 17% of voters made it to the polls.

As of Friday, more than 37,000 people had returned their ballots.

The lowest turnout was in 2016 when just 46,000 voters cast ballots. The highest was in 2020 when nearly 170,000 voters cast ballots.

But the political playing field is a lot different this year, a sea change sparked by Sen. Patrick Leahy stepping down.

“With six of the statewide offices up for grabs, there will be new people in them in January. That’s unheard of,” said Chris Graff, the former Vermont bureau chief for the Associated Press.

Graff expects a record turnout for the Democratic primary.

“We have four very competitive Democratic primaries right now. That’s going to generate a lot of interest and enthusiasm for voters,” he said.

Vermont has open primaries where voters can select one of three party ballots.

Graff says contested House and Chittenden County state’s attorney’s races may draw independents or moderate Republicans to the Democratic primary.

GOP candidates are pushing for Republicans to vote in the Republican primary.

“I just need my voters to show up at the polls tomorrow. We can not sit this one out if you want change and an independent choice in Washington,” Christina Nolan said.

Nolan is up against Gerald Malloy and Meyers Mermel vying for the Republican Senate nomination.

If you have an early or absentee ballot that you have not mailed, you can bring that to the polls as well.

Polls are open Tuesday from 7 a.m.-7 p.m.

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