By INGE SCHAEFER
In the more than 32 years of serving on the Colchester Civil Board of Authority and, thus, participating in just about every election held over those years, the Vermont Primary election was always the worst. Nobody remembers it – it falls on the second Tuesday of the month of August. Were it a sunny, warm, dry day, few if any, will think to include voting at the high school – a few other Vermont activities come to mind. This is probably another reason absentee ballots are so popular.
So, voter turn out is generally low, although town clerk/treasurer Julie Graeter tells me that in 2016, 25 percent of registered voters – or 3,074 of 12,171 – voted. Wow! In my time, for an Election Day official on Primary Day, you are usually bored to death … reading, using your cell phone, or writing a letter to Mom (does anyone even still write a letter to Mom?) does not look good. Then, when a voter does arrive, bright and perky, you ask their name and address and party affiliation. Yes, in the old days, before the open-primary law was passed, we had to ask a person’s party affiliation. The primaries, after all, were to determine who the best candidate for a party would be. Who best to do that but the party faithful. Well, that didn’t always work – if the Republicans didn’t have any contests on their side or the Democrats wanted to mess with the Republican outcome, there would be “cross-over voting,” Rs voting for weaker Ds, and vice versa. Shouts of foul play would abound, but it often worked. That is no longer the case.
To reiterate, we now have an open-primary system, so you are not asked anything. It takes some of the sport out of the election, don’t you think? The next sticky moment would arise when you would hand the voter the ballot for the party they had just indicated they were affiliated with. You are now looking a person who is already frustrated that they had to pick a party, watched as the “D” or the “R” was placed next to their name (they know what that means to party fundraisers), and now they only get that ballot.
“Wait a minute – why can’t I vote on both ballots – this is a free country” … and it goes on from there. More than one voter over the years would throw the ballots back at me (and I’m a friendly, smiley person), walk out muttering about where this country is going, etc. As far as I know, you still can only vote on one ballot – Republican, Democrat or Progressive (one is counted, the other two trashed). This year there are so many contested spots from governor down on both sides, so it will be hard to make your choice, but that’s what life is, isn’t it – choices. So, you’ll make your choice, go home feeling good that you did your civic duty and wait to see the results.
This year you will also run into a write-in candidate situation, which is an even harder place to be for a candidate. Not only do they need you to pick their party election card, you have to take the extra step of writing in their name – which will go after the Republican and Democrat names in a spot marked – write in. You must also remember to blacken in the square just as you would by any other name. So, lots to remember this year. But, it’s exciting, and aren’t we blessed to live in such a free country! Vote August 14, 7a .m. to 7 p.m., CHS – all districts.
Before closing; When next you stop in the Hoagie Hut on Porters Point Road, congratulate long-time owner and Colchesterite Jamie Vetters, on his hole-in-one (8th hole) at Rocky Ridge Golf Course on August 3 during the Hank Schaefer Memorial Golf Tournament. Jamie won a new TV, his team won the day and other stuff, and he helped a great cause. All proceeds benefit the Vermont Foundation of Recovery, that provides homes for those in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. The event is held annually on the first Friday in August at Rocky Ridge. Congratulations to Jamie and his team!
For now, there are still some days in August left. Enjoy, and God bless!