Vt. Senate gives initial nod to election reform bill

Published: May. 12, 2023 at 4:39 PM EDT
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Big changes could be coming to who runs for Vermont elections and how votes are tabulated.

The Vermont Senate Friday approved a bill setting up ranked-choice voting for presidential primary elections without requiring local charter change approvals. The bill also eliminates what’s called the “sore loser provision,” which prevents candidates who lose a party’s primary from running in the general election as an Independent.

Supporters say the aim is to have candidates be more transparent with voters. “It seemed fair and party neutral and something that is in line with election law nationwide,” said Sen. Ruth Hardy, D-Addison County.

Opponent, including Vermont Lt. Governor David Zuckerman, D/P-Vermont, says the provision is unfair. “The number of instances of this over the last 20 years has been a fraction of a percent of the elections. It was a bit of a subtle but definite power move and people are concerned,” Zuckerman said.

The Senate needs to vote once more on the bill, likely during a veto session at the end of June before it heads to back to the House of Representatives. Governor Phil Scott has indicated he is opposed to ranked-choice voting.

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