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Time To Vote 2018: Here Are The Candidates For Vermont Secretary Of State

A yellow overlay on a polling place scene with Vote signs and American flags, with the text In Case The Only Time You Think Of Secretary Of State Is On Election Day.
Photo: Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR File
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Vermont’s secretary of state deals with issues of professional licensing, corporate regulations and open records laws. And this office runs Vermont's elections.

Time To Vote 2018 — Attorney General | Auditor | Governor | Lieutenant GovernorTreasurer | U.S. House | U.S. Senate

What does the secretary of state do?

This position oversees the state archives, the licensing of health and safety professionals and the registration of businesses; helps towns and the state government remain in compliance with Vermont's open records laws; and, perhaps most notably, serves as the chief election officer for the state.

The secretary of state also monitors the election process and campaign finance, working with communities around the state to make sure voting in Vermont is fair, secure and efficient.

Acupuncturists, veterinarians, real estate agents, architects and many others all have to be certified and registered with the state and live up to certain expectations. If they do not, and consumers have a problem, the secretary of state's office is the one to help.

Who’s running for secretary of state?

There are three candidates for secretary of state on Vermont’s ballot in this year’s general election:

  • Jim Condos (Democrat)
  • Mary Alice Herbert (Liberty Union)
  • H. Brooke Paige (Republican)

Scroll to learn more about the candidates.

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A yellow overlay on a polling place scene with Vote signs and American flags, with the name Jim Condos.
Credit Photo: Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR File

  • Democratic candidate
  • Town of residence: Montpelier
  • Incumbent, seeking fifth term; previously served in Vermont Senate
  • Website

On early voting:

In Vermont, you can vote up to 45 days before Election Day, and Condos said he supports having early voting: "We should be making it easy to vote. This is a Constitutional right."

He said giving people the option to vote early is a way to improve voter access. Related, Condos also said he is a proponent of making Election Day a national holiday.

On "voter ID" requirements:

According to Condos, "true voter fraud is denying any eligible Vermonter the right to cast a ballot."

And Condos said he doesn't think Vermonters should have to produce photo identification in order to exercise their right to vote.

"It really has been proven nationally that voter ID, photo ID, is a voter suppression method that impacts greatly young adults, low-income folks, minorities and senior citizens," Condos said.

On if non-U.S. citizens should vote in municipal elections:

Montpelier voters are weighing in on this proposal this election — and, according to Condos, this practice was allowed dating back to the early twentieth century.

"Anything that is passed by the town will have to go through review by the Legislature and then be signed into law by the governor," Condos said, noting that we're still too early in the proposal process right now to know what a system like this would even ultimately look like.

But he noted that many of these non-citizens that would be eligible are taxpayers and involved in the local community, and he reiterated that it would be limited to local elections (not state or federal).

And a little more:

Election security has been a much-talked about topic — especially since 2016 — and Condos highlighted the work that's been done during his tenure. Condos noted how Vermont has risen in the Elections Performance Index and we are now the highest ranked state. Two things he considers Vermont's best practices: "Paper ballots and post-election audits."

Condos said Vermont is seen as a "leader in cybersecurity." He said there's been testing done on the state's system, and that his office has been working with the Department of Homeland Security to stay up to date.

Want to hear more from Jim Condos? Listen to an extended interview here.

A thin grey line.

A yellow overlay on a polling place scene with Vote signs and American flags, with the name Mary Alice Herbert.
Credit Photo: Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR File

  • Liberty Union candidate
  • Town of residence: Putney
  • Has previously been a Vermont secretary of state candidate six times; also has been a lieutenant governor candidate and governor candidate in Vermont; has not held statewide elected office in Vermont
  • Website

VPR reached out to Mary Alice Herbert, but was unable to schedule an interview.

A thin grey line.

A yellow overlay on a polling place scene with Vote signs and American flags, with the name H. Brooke Paige
Credit Photo: Amy Kolb Noyes / VPR File

  • Republican candidate
  • Town of residence: Washington
  • In the 2018 primary, Paige won the nomination to six different offices but chose to pursue secretary of state; had previously run in Vermont primary elections for governor, attorney general and U.S. Senate; has not held elected statewide office in Vermont
  • Website

On early voting:

Vermonters can vote beginning 45 days before Election Day, but Paige said he takes issue with calling it "early voting" — he said that term is a "promotional technique" for something that's really still just absentee voting. He said he doesn't think promoting early voting is wise, as people may in turn be uninformed when they cast their early ballot.

"I'm not saying they shouldn't be permitted to do so," he said. "I just don't think encouraging it is necessarily a great idea."

On "voter ID" requirements:

When it comes to voter ID, Paige said he's "a big advocate." He said that might mean a photo ID or perhaps biometric data, as well as information on the document you present to make it clear you are the individual voter you claim to be.

"I'm not looking to bar people from voting," Paige said. "I'm looking to prevent people from voting more than one time or, you know, in some other scheme that might be defrauding the legitimate voters of their franchise." (When asked during the VPR Debate if he thought the state had a voter fraud problem, Paige said "I think that we have a perceived voter fraud problem.")

Paige said the idea that Vermont has voter suppression is "all foolishness," and said he feels the state actually has a "loose-as-a-goose election process" that has led to people opting out of the voting process.

On if non-U.S. citizens should vote in municipal elections:

Paige said there are some circumstances where he'd perhaps support this: "I think to the extent that the questions that are being asked are only operational as to the township or the community, that maybe we should be open to consideration."

But he said when it comes to choosing any elected positions (like town council members), that vote should be reserved for citizens only.

And a little more:

We don't require party registration in Vermont, so in a (non-presidential) primary election you receive all the ballots and can choose which to fill out. Paige said this system should change, and we should mandate party registration.

"I think what we really need to do is get away from the open primaries to either a closed primary, where we wouldn't save any cash, or more importantly to go to a caucus-based system where ... the parties would be responsible for selecting their candidates, their chosen ones for the general election," Paige said.

Want to hear more from H. Brooke Paige? Listen to an extended interview here.

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Keep going! Time To Vote 2018 — Attorney General | Auditor | Governor | Lieutenant GovernorTreasurer | U.S. House | U.S. Senate

AND REMEMBER: Vermont's 2018 general election is Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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