March 19, 2011


We would be glad to have an explanation of this from the Board for Registration of Voters. We will request an explanation, but for now we have to piece the evidence together for ourselves.

Why doesn't Burlington's City Clerk -- Acting or otherwise -- abide by state election law? How did it happen that the Board of Registration of Voters, representing the people and appointed by the City Council, is a powerless rubber stamp today?

Is there evidence that the checklist is bloated and people are voting fraudulently?
  • Example, approx 1600 inactive registrants on the Ward 1 checklist required challenge letter after they did not vote in the last 2 federal elections. According to the Sec of State's Office, they were not challenged because the City Clerk "inadvertently" did not send out the legal challenge letter and postcard. Inactive/Challenged registrants can vote if they sign the "Affirmation of Residence/Domicile," A member of the board of Registration of Voters requested that copies of the form be available at the polls, and she was told that we don't use that form (as required by law) because people in Burlington are in a hurry to vote, or something ridiculous like that.
  • Example, a candidate sent flyers to checklist registrants in a neighborhood, first class mail, and HALF were returned undeliverable, no such person at that address. Candidate noticed someone on the list who had been dead for 20 years, AND noted that someone was voting using the candidate's residence as their domicile! 
Conclusion: Evidence suggests that the checklist is bloated and vulnerable to voter fraud.

    Here's a link to the form Affirmation of Residence/Domicile that is required by state election law:  AFFIRMATION OF RESIDENCE/DOMICILE .

    March 16, 2011


    Burlington election officials are not trained by the Sec of State, they are trained by the Burlington City Clerk's office apparently because our elections are different than elsewhere in the state. How are they different? Is our City Clerk required to follow state election law, for example regarding checklist certification? 

    State law requires voter checklist certification before every election. Voters who have not voted are inactive and when sent a form letter with a return post card, they are challenged. People who do not return the postcard have inactive/challenged status on the checklist. The checklist is certified and posted in public places. Inactive/challenged status voters who appear at the polls to vote must sign an Affirmation of Domicile/Residence form affirming that they are a resident at the address on the checklist, or if they have moved they state their current address, under pain of penalty for perjury. If they do not appear and affirm, they are purged from the checklist and archived.

    In Burlington, the Board of Voter Registration has the responsibility to register voters, purge the checklist, certify the checklist, and post the checklist before an election. They may also be responsible for administering the Affirmation of Domicile/Residence at the polls. They meet on the first Tuesday of each month. Apparently today they rubber stamp what the City Clerk's Office does or fails to do. Exactly WHO The City Clerk IS? appears to be shadowy, and the challenge/purge law is definitely not being followed. The Sec of State's election office used the word "inadvertently": Burlington City Clerk's Office inadvertently did not send out the challenge letter and postcard. How long has challenge/purge of checklist process been ignored? 


    ~Sec of State, Elections Division:

    ~Burlington election ordinances -Title 24, Chapt 3. 

    § 29 Checklist to be prepared and posted

    § 3-14. List of voters to be prepared; posting
    Preceding each annual or special city or ward election to be held in said city, it shall be the duty of the board for registration of voters to prepare full and complete lists of the voters in the respective wards of said city, and to certify the same to the chief administrative officer. One copy of such lists shall be posted by or under the direction of the chief administrative officer in some public place in the wards to which the voters whose names are on such list respectively belong, at least twelve days previous to any such election.

    J.P. Manual explains the election laws:

    p.12: ELECTION RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE [BOARD OF CIVIL AUTHORITY].... f)  Removing Names From the Checklist.  (Challenging and Purging the Checklist) 1.  Timing. Challenging voter names on the checklist is another function of the board of civil authority that may be done at any duly warned meeting.  A review of the checklist may be done at any time.  However, systemic purges must be completed at least 90 days before any federal, state or local election. 17 V.S.A. § 2150(b).  

    March 9, 2011


    Removing Names From Checklist.  (Challenging and Purging the Checklist) Challenging voter names on the checklist is another function of the board of civil authority that may be done at any duly warned meeting.  A review of the checklist may be done at any time. However, systemic purges must be completed at least 90 days before any federal, state or local election. 17 V.S.A. § 2150(b).   

    Inquiry. The first step in the purging process is an initial inquiry.  Is there any evidence that the voter is no longer eligible to vote?  BCA members may consider and rely on official and unofficial public records and documents, including telephone directories, city directories, newspapers, death certificates, tax records or checklists showing whether the voter has voted in any election in the last four years. The board may even designate someone to contact the voter personally. 

    Sending Voter Notice (Challenge Letter). If there is reason to question eligibility, or if the BCA has been unable to contact the voter, the board should send the voter written notice questioning whether the voter still resides in town. The notice should be sent to the voter's most recent known address, with "return service requested" on the envelope.  A postage paid preaddressed return card or letter must accompany the notice, giving the voter an opportunity to swear to maintaining his or her current legal street address within the town or to consent to removal of the voter's name from the checklist.  17 V.S.A. § 2150(d)(3).  The notice should explain that if the voter fails to return the enclosed response card before the deadline for voter registration for the next election, written sworn affirmation of residence in town will be required before they will be allowed to vote.  Challenge letters can now be printed from the statewide checklist.
    See notes from last year, same questions. Summit Notes, March 20, 2010  

    March 4, 2011

    Wards 4 and 7 poll highest number of voters in the city with 37 and 31%

    *Reminder, the city checklist is bloated, especially in wards populated by students - 34,778;  and, as Roger suggests below, voters feel used and abused and trust is lacking. Some residents reported voting early at City Hall, where staff left their ballots on a desk in the clerk's office instead of placing them in a locked box. Kilbourn suggests replacing mayor with City Manager, and others suggest replacing Asst. CAO with an elected City Clerk. 

    With turnout tiny in some wards, Burlington voters showed frustration BY JOHN BRIGGS, FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • THURSDAY, MARCH 3, 2011

    Following Tuesday’s elec­tion, Mayor Bob Kiss betrayed no anxiety, avoided labeling the [New] North End as naysayers or demagogues as he has previ­ously, and he calmly told Chan­nel 17 he would make a decision in the fall about running for a third term.

    He attempted no explanation for the low turnout (17 percent) or for the poor numbers (for him) across the city. In interviews Wednesday, others did, pointing to a disillusioned electorate and an inability of the mayor or other leaders to generate enthusiasm for the measures on the ballot.
    It was residents in Wards 4 and 7 who supplied the lion's share of votes against measures Kiss supported -- including a 4-cent tax increase and a 50-percent threshold for electing a mayor. These were the wards that demonstrated the highest voter turnout, 37 percent and 31 percent, respectively.
    Elsewhere, the voting numbers were startling, even for those who campaigned against the proposed tax increase and the 50 percent voting requirement for mayor. Turnout estimates show voting was miniscule in Wards 1 (8 percent), 2 (7 percent), 3 (11 percent) and 6 (14 percent).
    Roger Kilbourn, a New North End resident and lifelong Democrat who works as a real estate appraiser for the state tax department, said he wasn't surprised to see the budget items go down.
    "We the voters have so little control over what government does," he said. "What can you do other than say 'no'?"
    He thinks many of his neighbors and others in town have become so frustrated over issues such as Burlington Telecom's financial woes they have "just thrown up their hands" because the politicians "are going to do what they're going to do." Frustration and discontent, he said, lead to low participation in government.
    "You had a clear, bright day," he said, and even though modest turnout is predictable in an off-year election, Tuesday's 17 percent indicated "people are disengaging, and those who did turn out are sufficiently motivated by their anger."
    The tax increase that Kiss said was necessary passed only in Ward 2 (by seven votes); citywide, 69 percent of those who voted rejected it. The negative numbers were highest in the New North End (77 percent in Ward 4 and 81 percent in Ward 7).
    Heavy "no" votes in the New North End and Ward 6 also sank the 50 percent for mayor question (58 percent "no" in total), but the "yes" votes in Wards 1, 2, 3 and 5 weren't overwhelming. The greatest support was in Ward 2, where the vote for change to a 50-percent requirement was 227-151 (60 percent in favor).
    Kilbourn said the management issues that have surfaced in the last 18 months suggest to him that Burlington might need to consider moving to a city-manager form of government with a manager "working at the pleasure of the council. You need someone who has been trained and has experience in local government management," he said. "Clearly, we don't have that today."
    City government has become too complex, he said, "to rely on a politician."
    Dave Hartnett, a conservative Democrat who was unopposed for the council seat in Ward 4, recoiled from the city-manager suggestion.
    "I don't want the last five years to set a precedent for how we govern the city," he said. "It's worked well in the past."
    He called Tuesday "a sad day" for the city.
    "I can't remember a day in Burlington when people have voiced their displeasure so loudly," he said. "It was really kind of doomsday, and I don't recall such a low turnout. I think the people who stayed home are so discouraged they're giving up."
    "I think we're in for a long year," he said. The mayor's seat is up for election in 2012.
    David Zuckerman, a Progressive and former state representative, said the election was not simply a referendum on Kiss.
    "There were very few contested races and little energy on any issue," he said.
    He said the lassitude is a reflection of Kiss's inability to generate "excitement around the potential in Burlington civic life." But he also suggested that Democrats on the council failed to push for passage of the 50 percent issue or announce their support for the Burlington Electric Department bond issue, which failed.
    "Bob didn't communicate well," Zuckerman said of Kiss, "the caucuses of the council didn't communicate well, and that leads to antipathy. Between some of Bob's communications issues and the negativity from those who like to score political points, many people are just tired of it."
    To analyze turnout by ward in Burlington’s election Tuesday, the Free Press reviewed voting totals from the school budget question, which had the highest number of total votes with 5,922. The figures approximate but do not necessarily equal true voting turnout, since not all voters necessarily voted on this particular question.
          Read the Comments for some thought-provoking responses.