Tag Archives: Jim Condos

The Great Gouamba strikes again

“… when [the natives] have been condemned to eat nothing but vegetable food for several weeks, [they] have a positive craving for meat, and will do anything to procure it.

“This craving after animal food sometimes becomes almost a disease. It is known by the name of Gouamba, and attacks both white and black men alike. …Those who suffer from it become positive wild beasts at the sight of meat, which they devour with an eagerness that is horrible to witness.”

(From John George Wood, Natural History of Man, 1874)

This particular brand of madness came to my attention in the writings of the great A.J. Liebling, who diagnosed a case of Gouamba in the overwrought media coverage of a 1946 meat shortage blamed on postwar price controls.

Alas, a virulent strain of the Gouamba has overtaken Republicans nationwide and here in Vermont. Their hunger is not for steak, but for scandal in our electoral system. During the campaign, there were frequent press releases from the Vermont Republican Party alleging some kind of skulduggery and/or fecklessness by the office of Democratic Secretary of State Jim Condos, none of which had the slightest hint of merit.

This week, the Gouamba-besotted VTGOP Executive Director Jeff Bartley made a spectacle of himself at the site of an election recount. Indeed, according to VTDigger’s Jasper Craven, Young Jeff was so obnoxious that he was forcibly ejected from the premises.

Elsewhere, noted Gouamba-carrier Vermont Watchdog has yet another evidence-free “story” about security flaws in Vermont’s absentee balloting system. More in a moment, but first let us return to Mr. Bartley.

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Pushing forward on ballot access

The early voting numbers have been strong, and they took a huge leap over the weekend. On Friday, the Secretary of State’s office reported that 75,342 Vermonters had cast early ballots.

The total as of Monday afternoon? 89,411. That’s more than 14,000 ballots received in one day. Ballots can be returned until the polls close tonight; there are another 9300 early ballots outstanding, so the final early-voting total could approach 100,000. Which would represent nearly 30 percent of the total electorate.

(UPDATE: As of 9:30 this morning, returned ballots are up to 91,593. More than 100,000 people have requested ballots. We’re virtually certain to break the record.)

It would also break our all-time record of 94,663 early ballots cast in 2008.

Early voting is becoming the norm, not the exception. Which is logical; our tradition of holding elections on a single weekday is, frankly, ridiculous. You’d think it was designed to keep voters away.

Vermont has taken many positive steps to simplify voting.

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A tale of two parties

For the third weekend in a row, Vermont’s top Democrats are touring the state, rallying their voters and presenting a unified front behind Sue Minter. Pat Leahy, Peter Welch, David Zuckerman, TJ Donovan, Doug Hoffer, Beth Pearce, and Jim Condos have done more than their share to help carry Minter across the finish line.

And most crucially, Bernie Sanders, who not only spent two weekends on the stump with Minter*, he gave her a tremendous infusion of campaign cash thanks to his millions of supporters across the country. It really has been a great display of unity — far beyond anything I’d hoped for when I advocated a one-weekend Bus Tour. It’s also an impressive show of the Democrats’ political star power, the depth of their talent and the breadth of their appeal.

*This weekend, he’s campaigning for Hillary Clinton in other states. 

Meanwhile, on the other side, we’ve got Phil Scott. And, um…

Phil Scott.

Bravely soldiering on, pretty much carrying the entire VTGOP on his broad, manly shoulders. Or trying to.

Really, who else is there? What other Vermont Republican might hope to draw a crowd or inspire the voters?

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About the Iberdrola offer

So, wind developer Iberdrola has come under fire for its cash offer to people in Windham and Grafton, should its proposed Stiles Brook wind farm be built. The individual payments would be in addition to sizeable payments to each town government.

Opponents call it bribery. Attorney General Bill Sorrell’s office said no, it wasn’t against the law. But a few days ago, Secretary of State Jim Condos said he was “greatly concerned” by the offer. As VTDigger’s Mike Faher reported, Condos acknowledged that the offer wasn’t illegal, but it was “pushing the envelope” in using cash to influence voters.

(I’ve been critical of Faher’s wind coverage, but full credit to him for a well-written, balanced piece.)

Sounds dire. But when you read the whole story, it doesn’t seem nearly so clear-cut.

First, Condos didn’t contradict the Attorney General’s legal decision. In fact, he said that he respects the AG’s ruling and “will follow [its] guidance.”

And second, when Iberdrola clarified its offer, Condos walked back his initial statement.

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Conservative megadonor casts doubt on ballot security

Lenore Broughton is a generous supporter of conservative politicians. But she’s an intensely private person. She hates having her picture taken, and she usually lets her money do the talking in the political arena.

On Friday afternoon, she stepped out of the shadows for the first time — ironically, to do something that’s pretty damn shady.

She sent a letter to all the town clerks in Vermont warning that the state’s election might be hacked. Or, as she put it, she was warning of “the surprisingly (sic) ease with which the AccuVote-OS optical scanners can be hacked resulting in the switching of votes.”

Her alarm springs from an article posted by Vermont’s most biased news source, Vermont Watchdog. The story was written in mid-September, and was immediately and thoroughly debunked by Secretary of State Jim Condos.

Perhaps Broughton doubts the representations of our Democratic, but scrupulously fair, Secretary of State. After all, Secretaries of State affiliated with her favorite party are often guilty of electoral shenanigans. The VTGOP has frequently made accusations against Condos or his functionaries, but none have ever panned out.

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Early voting on fast pace in Vermont

We’re hearing reports from various states that a whole lot of people are voting early. And the evidence, with a couple of exceptions, is that the trend favors the Democrats. In key state after key state, they are outperforming President Obama’s 2012 pace while Donald Trump is lagging behind Mitt Romney’s performance.

And how are things in Vermont? you may ask.

We’re way ahead of 2014, and on pace to threaten our record for early voting, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

As of Friday afternoon, the state had received more than 51,000 requests for early ballots, and are getting an average of 2,000 per day.  Absentee requests have already exceeded the 2014 total — which was lower than 2012 because so many voters were disaffected by the Shumlin/Milne race. (2014 total turnout 196,000; in 2012, it was over 301,000.)

As of midafternoon Thursday, voters had returned nearly 25,000 ballots. That’s getting close to 2014’s total — and we still have more than two weeks until Election Day.

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Coyote over the cliff

Oh, here comes David Sunderland, woebegone chair of the Vermont Republican Party, with his biennial tradition: the totally cooked-up accusation that the Secretary of State has his finger on the electoral scale.

I suppose it’s only natural. After all, Republican Secretaries of State have a long and sordid tradition of playing partisan games. (See: Kris Kobach, Ken Blackwell, and Katherine Harris) But our guy, Jim Condos, may be a solid Democrat, but he’s never given any hint of impropriety in the handling of his official duties.

TFW you've hit "Send" on a stupid press release.

TFW you’ve just been @pwned by Jim Condos..

Still,;like Wile E. Coyote chasing the roadrunner, Sunderland can’t stop himself from trying. Remember two years ago, when he accused an Elections Office employee of partisan bias — without a single shred of evidence that the worker had acted improperly? Sunderland didn’t give a damn about imperiling a man’s career and good name, if he could score a few partisan points in so doing.

This time, Sunderland is raising a stink about the distribution of ballots for the November elections. He notes that different communities are getting ballots at different times. Some have already started mailing ballots to voters who want to vote early.

He raises an “equal protection issue” with some voters getting their ballots earlier than others, and thus having more time to ponder their choices.

Uh-huh. Like those voters are going to spend from now until Election Eve intensively studying their choices — and people who dot n’t their ballots until sometime next week will never be able to catch up.

But that’s not all.

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