Wednesday, October 8, 2014

3.7 percent of voters in Burlington’s last big election not on rolls

by   /   October 8, 2014  /   2 Comments 

Photo by Bruce Parker
Photo by Bruce Parker
ELECTIONS MESS: Officials at Burlington’s City Hall are under under pressure to clean up elections after intense scrutiny from citizens and Monday’s halt of early voting.
By Bruce Parker | Vermont Watchdog
Unpublished data from Burlington’s last big election reveals a significant number of votes were cast by individuals whose names were not on the statewide checklist.
In the 2012 presidential election, 17,383 votes were cast in Burlington, according to city-published data. According to data not published by the city, but made available to Vermont Watchdog, 639 of those votes, or 3.7 percent, came from election day walk-in voters whose names were not on the voter rolls and whose registration status was unknown.
As previously reported by Watchdog, votes by individuals whose names don’t appear on the checklist count whether or not the voters can be verified as having registered with the state.
The unpublished data sheds light on elections in Burlington after citizen poll watchersexposed a need for greater scrutiny in the Queen City, and after city officials on Monday halted early voting when Republican candidates for Justice of the Peace were found missing from the ballot. Reprinted ballots will cost the city $10,000.
In big elections in Burlington, hundreds of people absent from voter rolls show up to vote. Instead of being turned away or given provisional ballots, the individuals fill out voter affirmation forms, get added to the statewide checklist and vote on the spot. Critics say the process is rife with abuse and amounts to same-day registration.
When Watchdog contacted the clerk/treasurer’s office to find out how many individuals voted in recent elections despite not appearing on the statewide checklist, Scott Schrader, Burlington’s elections chief, said affirmation forms from the 2012 presidential election were discarded. Forms from this year’s Town Meeting Day went missing with a clerk who no longer works for the city.
Watchdog obtained the unpublished data from printed checklists updated by poll workers and maintained by the Board for Registration of Voters.
In the 2012 general election, voters whose names were not on the checklist, but were handwritten-in and permitted to vote in Burlington, were as follows: Wards One and Two, 181; Ward Three, 114; Ward Four, 50; Ward Five, 128; Ward Six, 112; and Ward Seven, 54.