April 27, 2011


§ 3-43. Composition; duties; appointments; offices
(a) The city council with mayor presiding shall constitute the board of civil authority for said city, except that all duties with respect to preparing checklists of voters and making additions thereto or alterations or corrections thereon imposed upon said council by this charter or the provisions of the general statutes relating thereto shall be performed by a board of nine (9) members, to be known as the board for registration of voters. Not more than five (5) members of said board shall at any one time be from the same political party.
(c) Said board shall maintain an office in the city hall of the city, open for business during the regular business hours of said city, wherein shall be kept available for public inspection the records pertaining to the qualifications of all legal voters and freemen of the city. Said board shall advise any petitioner affected by an adverse decision of his or her statutory right to seek judicial review of such decision. Said board shall also appoint a clerk, who need not be a member thereof, who shall have such duties as the board may assign, together with the duties imposed upon the chief administrative officer by sections 106 and 107 of the Vermont Statutes, Revision of 1947, as amended. Records of the taking of freemen's oaths heretofore kept by the city clerk shall be transferred to the clerk of said board.

DUTIES OF CAO [106 and 107 ? of the Vermont Statutes, Revision of 1947]
§ 3-17. Chief administrative officer to post lists; copies to be filed in chief administrative officer's office.  It shall be the duty of the chief administrative officer to cause the original of each and every checklist of voters at any time ordered to be posted by the board for registration of voters of said city, to be filed in the chief administrative officer's office with his or her certificate attached, that true copies of such lists have been posted as directed by said board, together with the time and place in said city at which the same were posted, which certificate shall be prima facie evidence of such posting.

§ 3-16. Additions or corrections permitted
The board for registration of voters shall, pursuant to the notice set forth in section 15 of this chapter, meet to make additions to, or alterations and corrections in, the list required by section 14 of this chapter.

April 21, 2011


Burlington Clerk "inadvertently" sent out a challenge letter that did not comply with the statute, so now Acting CAO City Clerk Schrader says ALL Inactives will be restored to Active status. Inactive/Challenged voters will be required to sign Affirmation of Domicile/Residence (under pain of penalty for perjury) in proposed special election.

In the past, if an Inactive/challenged voter came to vote, by statute they were required to be given an Affirmation of Domicile/Residence form to sign, declaring the address of their legal residence (under pain of penalty for perjury). But our poll workers were not using that form. No ID required, no affirmation of domicile/residence -- just say a name that is on the checklist, and you get a ballot. NEVIS questioned this procedure two years ago, and a newly appointed Board member questioned the Board about it repeatedly in the past year, urging them to read the law and comply with it.

The Sec of State's Office  to 7904 named voters at the address they used to register sometime in the past ~20 years. Some who receive the letter will return the postcard indicating they have moved and want to be taken off the checklist, or still live at the same address. Most will be undeliverable or not returned, and the checklist will be vulnerable to fraud until the cycle of two general election concludes and as long as the Board continues to treat the Affirmation of Domicile/Residence as a bothersome inconvenience!

We need a fresh slate of appointments for the Board for Voter Registration. Members who do not have good attendance, or who have not fulfilled Board responsibilities, need to be replaced. Members were not trained properly, nor did they read the law or avail themselves of training materials available from the Sec of State. Many members were  dismissive, condescending, and/or inexcusably rude to a new member who asked questions, and tried to tell them, for example, that they were not using the Affirmation of Domicile/Residence form as required by statute.

City Council needs to adopt a general practice of  not reappointing old members if there are new applicants, so the boards and commissions are always refreshed. Council needs to infuse the Board with new member. Council must require annual orientation and training by the Sec of State's Office so new members are knowledgeable about the process, policy and procedures; and all members are annually reminded of their responsibilities and informed of changes in policy, procedure, or the statute.

April 12, 2011

Deadline May 11 to Apply for Board of Registration of Voters

There are two openings coming up in June on the Board for Registration of Voters. Deadline for application is May 11. NEVIS is hoping that a member of the League of Women Voters and an advocate of True the Vote will apply. Both these groups are passionate about the integrity of the vote, and integrity begins with a clean certified checklist. The Acting City Clerk says the Board needs to: 

"...re-initiate the process of attempting to determine, with certainty, the true status of the voter's residence and therefore, their voting eligibility. In addition...board [will] adopt a policy and procedure that provides for a systematic process of regularly challenging voters on the City's checklist..." [Scott Schrader, Acting City Clerk. April 5, 2011]

The city's website link to the "Complete List..." is not currently working but I've notified  Lori and expect she will have it corrected soon. Note that the Board for Registration of Voters, at the bottom of the list, is a Miscellaneous 5 year Appointment:  Complete List of Commissioners, Advisory Boards, City Representatives on Regional Boards, Miscellaneous Appointments 

List of Open Commission Seats -- 2 open seats on Board for Registration of Voters

April 6, 2011


Active: 26,465     
Inactive/Challenged: 7,904
Other: 413
Total: 34,782 

Unfortunately most, if not all of the Inactive/Challenged voters within the HAVA system have not been challenged in accordance with law. Approximately two years ago, the City sent a postcard developed by the State that did not conform to a change in State Law that required the Towns and Cities to provide the registered voter, among other information, a statement that "if he or she fails to return the form as provided in this subdivision, written affirmation of the voter's address shall be required before the voter is permitted to vote", as well as "information concerning how the voter can register to vote in another state or another municipality within this state."  If authorized by the Board of Voter Registration, the clerk's office will "re-classify all challenged voters from inactive to active..."  [Scott Schrader, April 5, 2011] 

From Secretary of State: Jim Condos

...according to recent discussions between my Elections Division and with Scott Schrader, the staff in Burlington is currently going through the process of sending out the correct challenge letters and return postcards or forms… as required by the National Voting Rights Act of 1993.
...Burlington, by charter, has a board of voter registration.  The charter states that “it shall be the duty of the board for registration of voters to prepare full and complete lists of the voters…and to certify the same to the chief administrative officer.”  The board of voter registration also is authorized by the charter to alter or correct the checklist – including purging of ineligible voters.
...The Secretary of State’s office houses the statewide voter checklist but the cities and towns “own” their data and thus are responsible for purging their own checklist. In the City of Burlington, by charter, that body is the Board of Voter Registration whereas in most other cities and towns it would be the Board of Civil Authority.


7,904 challenged/inactive voters [have been?] [will be?] returned to active status on the checklist because the city did not send out the correct letter to registrants who have not voted in recent elections. Error discovered when Linda Chagnon read the election law and noticed that clerks were not using an "Affirmation of Domicile/Residence" form at the polls, and she asked the board for clarification on this procedure. She also went to the Acting City Clerk, who said he would assure compliance. The form is mandated by statute, to be used when a person who hasn't voted recently, and hasn't responded to the challenge letter asking them to confirm that they live in Burlington, appears at the polls to vote.

Concluded: The city did not follow the statutory process in challenging inactive voters on the checklist. "Therefore all challenges brought against voters most likely will not withstand a legal challenged [sic] and, as such, on advice from the City Attorney's Office and the Secretary of State's Office should be rescinded." [Scott Schrader, Acting City Clerk, April 5, 2011]

Proposed: "...to re-initiate the process of attempting to determine, with certainty, the true status of the voter's residence and therefore, their voting eligibility. In addition...board adopt a policy and procedure that provides for a systematic process of regularly challenging voters on the City's checklist..." [Scott Schrader, Acting City Clerk. April 5, 2011]

Serious questions remain about other violations, such as the board cursorily approving incomplete registrations or signing off on registrations after information has been added in the clerk's office to complete a registration form.