Commentary: Illegal Votes in Victory Raise Statewide Questions

By Rob Roper Rob Roper

The vote fraud case in Victory, Vermont, concluded with eleven “voters” being removed from the town checklist. For this small, Vermont community it meant a full 13 percent of registered voters were illegitimate, and these illegitimate votes were more than enough to alter the outcomes of elections.

What’s truly alarming about this case is that the root problem had more to do with election officials – either stubbornly ignorant or flat out corrupt — than with the non-resident voters. It’s hard to blame the out-of-towners who were told repeatedly and defended by those in charge that what they were doing was okay. As Judge Thomas Devine stated in his decision, “… this is a situation where the facts as found by the BCA do not support the legal conclusion of residency.” In other words, the election officials did not understand the law, and, as a result, allowed many people to vote illegally.

The Victory BCA argued that non-residents were eligible to vote because they had an “intent” to establish a primary domicile in the district at some point in the future. These “voters” included second homeowners from Connecticut, an adult child of a Victory resident who lived and worked in Burlington, and a couple who owned a camp in Victory, but lived primarily in Montpelier. However, Vermont law clearly defines a resident as:

“a natural person who is domiciled [not was or will be] in the State as evidenced by an intent to maintain [not establish] a principal [not secondary] dwelling place in the State indefinitely and to return there when temporarily absent, coupled with an act or acts consistent with that intent.” (Bracketed comments added.)

Judge Devine’s ruling in Victory clarifies the obvious, “…domiciled requires having residence ‘coupled with an intention of remaining indefinitely,’ and neither residency or intent alone is enough to establish it.” As such, it is the job of local election officials to determine that a potential voter is A) currently domiciled in the district in which they would like to vote, and B) that they intend to maintain that residence as their primary domicile as evidenced by action. The Victory BCA did not do this.

Which raises the big question, is this fundamental misunderstanding and misapplication of Vermont election law isolated in little Victory, or is this a common belief and practice among BCAs and election officials throughout the state?

I will say here that it is the latter. Here’s just one reason why:

Remember when Garrett Graff attempted to run for lieutenant governor after having lived and worked in Washington D.C. for over a decade? To qualify for that ballot there is a four-year residency requirement, and, as VT Digger reported at the time, “While Graff has lived in Washington, D.C., for nearly a decade, he recently quit his job at Politico and moved to Burlington with his wife. He said he has remained a registered voter in the Green Mountain State … ‘If someone is able to vote for office, they should be able to run for office,’ said Graff.” (VT Digger, 1/27/16)

Sound logic. But, as we know in accordance with Judge Devine’s ruling, Graff was not and never was able to legally vote in Vermont after he established a primary domicile in D.C. Yet, despite these very public comments in a statewide debate over someone seeking the second highest office in state government, nobody batted an eye at the fact that Graff had been voting illegally in Vermont as a non-resident for over a decade. Not local election officials, not legislators, not the Secretary of State, not the press, not even his potential opponents!

Why not? Because they all incorrectly believed Graff was right about his voting status.

The loosely interpreted “future intent” or “intent to return” is the standard that has been applied – and applied wrongly — to Vermont’s voter checklist on a statewide level for at least a decade. This has allowed people who do not reside in our communities to influence the outcomes of or local elections. First, we need to find out how widespread this problem is. Is it the 13% level of Victory? It’s a small town, but not as hot a second home destination as many other Vermont communities.  And then we need to get to work cleaning up our voter lists and correcting this injustice.

– Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Bill Lawrence April 2, 2018 at 9:22 pm

I think if a study was done of each town, you would find that most of the Board of Civil Authorities are comprised of Democrats or Progressives. You would probably also find at the Boards are mainly comprised of former State Representatives or current ones. This totally amazes me but it shows who really is controlling the voting rolls in the State of Vermont. The voter fraud case in Victory, Vermont is just one case that has been discovered and challenged….and eventually won in the courts.

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