• Progressive Party recount remains unresolved
     | September 16,2012

    MONTPELIER — Vermont officials say the winner of the gubernatorial primary in the Progressive Party should be known early this week.

    Judge Robert Bent of Washington County civil court has set a status conference in the recount for Monday afternoon and a final hearing for Tuesday morning.

    It took all of Thursday and half of Friday for county clerks to tabulate ballots of the fewer than 1,000 Vermonters who voted in the Progressive primary on Aug. 28.

    Party Chairwoman Martha Abbott appeared to have won the election by one vote in early reporting of results. Abbott renounced the nomination and withdrew her candidacy in keeping with her party’s plan not to run a candidate for governor and focus instead on legislative races.

    But write-in candidate Annette Smith asked for the recount.

    Vermont has 14 counties and state law calls for 13 of its county clerks to send the results of any recount to the Washington County civil court, located in Montpelier, the state capital, for final tabulation and an order from the presiding judge declaring the winner.

    Election vote-counting in Vermont normally is a transparent process, said Secretary of State Jim Condos. “In the view of our office, it’s public,” he said.

    But Washington County Clerk Elizabeth Battey refused on Friday to release preliminary results from the recount until they are certified by the judge.

    Smith said Friday she was frustrated by the delay.

    “Why won’t the clerk just say what the results are?” she asked.

    Preliminary results announced on election night showed Abbott leading Smith 371-354 in the Progressive primary. But errors were found in the following days that gave 16 more votes to Smith, narrowing the margin to 371-370.

    Smith had not actively campaigned in the primary. But she won support from environmentalists who wanted to get her into gubernatorial debates so she could question incumbent Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin’s support for large-scale wind power projects on Vermont’s mountaintops, as well as other issues.

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