Every Vermonter's vote should count

To the Editor:

We Vermonters have grown up believing one Vermonter, one vote and every vote counts, equally!

Now we have Scott Milne, Senator Joe Benning, and several other leading republicans telling us different. Telling us the votes of 2434 Vermonters should not count, because as legislators, their vote is more important.

They justify this self-serving twist of Democracy by pointing to the Vermont Constitution which allows the legislature to vote for Governor when there is not a clear majority or some other dispute.

A bit of history for context. In the late 1700s, the only communication was via horse back. Slow, difficult and not always reliable. Results of vote counts had to be collected in this manor. Votes and results were easily lost, disputed, etc. The writers of the Vermont Constitution were abundantly aware of these problems. In fact, this common problem was recognized in the Federal and other State Constitutions that pre date Vermont. The founding writers addressed this problem by giving the Legislature the power to select the "winner" when these conditions occurred. This was a pragmatic solution to late 1700 circumstances. Today, we have very diligent and prompt vote counting process. A clear and prompt recount process if we choose to employ it. It is clear of the several candidates running, Peter Shumlin got the most votes. No one disputes that fact today!

Senator Benning comes up with an even weaker rational to cover his lack of respect for the one Vermonter, one vote, Democracy. He maintains that in his district, Scott Milne got more votes so he is justified in representing his district in not following the state wide popular vote. He conveniently neglects to point out that the Vermont Constitution does not call for this Legislative district by district vote for Governor. The Vermont founding fathers called for state wide popular voting for Governor. They did not want this indirect voting by legislative discretion, disregarding votes of hundreds or thousands of Vermonters. They clearly wanted state wide offices be reflective of the popular vote of the WHOLE state.

Scott Milne and Senator Benning goes to some additional length to disparage Vermont history, what he calls "tradition" of electing Governor who get the most votes state wide.

They also forget to mention this rational to argue that the election of Republican Governor Jim Douglas in 2002 was wrong. Using Milne's and Benning's thinking, the Democrat controlled legislature should have elected Doug Racine. Douglas won the popular election with 45% of the popular vote, less than the 46% now won by Shumlin. However, the Vermont Democrats in the Legislature did the RIGHT THING, followed the clear decision of the Vermont popular vote and voted Douglas into office. I am proud of the 2002 Vermont legislature, following tradition, counting every Vermont vote, doing what is right, even when it hurts a bit!

I'm disappointed in Scott Milne, Senator Benning and several others, but not all, republicans who are willing to throw away the votes of 2434 Vermonters for their political self interest. Seems more like Washington politics than Vermont's.

Bob Zeliff

Chair, Addison County Democrats

Bridport, Vt.


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