Condos Still Misinformed/Misinforming About Residency Requirements

by Rob Roper

A recent Op-Ed back and forth between Secretary of State Jim Condos and Deb Bucknam, the attorney who prevailed in the Victory, Vermont, vote fraud case indicates the SOS is still confused about the judge’s ruling and, in his confusion, is misinforming town clerks and justices of the peace as to what Judge Devine’s ruling says and means.

Condos’ article is headlined “Non-residents should not be allowed to vote.” No arguments there. However, this is a deflection from the real issue a hand, which is about who is a resident and who is ineligible to be so for purposes of voting. Condos’ ideas about this are much more expansive than the law allows. He (necessarily) paraphrases, “Judge Devine’s legal analysis can be summed up by his conclusion that a person claiming residency in a Vermont town must show BOTH an intent to be a permanent resident of that town, coupled with actions sufficient to support that intent. As the judge wrote.” This is absolutely incorrect!

“Intent” is relevant only to one, not both, of those conditions. Intent is irrelevant in regard to establishing a primary domicile. One has to actually be a permanent resident in the district in order to be at all considered for inclusion on the voter checklist. Intent to establish a permanent residence in the future, or intent to return to the district after having established a primary domicile elsewhere, carries zero weight, contrary what the Secretary of State says. “Intent” in the law refers to – and only refers to — the intention to maintain that primary domicile and to return to it if temporarily absent.

The actual language of the law defines a resident as: “a person who IS domiciled in the town as evidenced by an INTENT TO MAINTAIN a principal dwelling place in the town indefinitely and to return there if temporarily absent, coupled with an act or acts consistent with that intent.” 17 V.S.A. § 2122(b). [Emphasis added]

Judge Devine clarifies these points in in his ruling:

“Defendants rest on Ms. Saligman and Mr. McGill’s statement that they intend to move to Victory in ten or twelve years. This statement is an admission that they do not currently reside in Victory. Rather, Victory is where they would like to someday reside. The BCA’s determination that Ms. Saligman and Mr. McGill “had an intent to maintain a principal dwelling place” in Victory someday does not establish residency now.” [Emphasis added.]

And further: 

“[A] nebulous or floating intention of returning at some future time’ is an insufficient tie to maintain one’s domicile upon physically relocating to another place ‘with an intention… of remaining there for an indefinite time as a fixed place of abode’” Gosbee v. Gosbee, 2015 VT…”

Secretary Condos is either intentionally or unintentionally perpetuating the incorrect understanding that intent to move into a district (or back into a district after having established a primary domicile outside the district) is enough to allow someone onto the voter checklist. It’s not.

So, with the 2018 elections rapidly approaching and Boards of Civil Authority getting the voter lists cleaned up in anticipation, please share this with the JP’s and Town Clerks in your community. Otherwise, fraudulent votes could determine the outcomes of elections in your town, just as they did in Victory.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary F Daly April 25, 2018 at 5:43 pm

Why is this so hard to figure out? Maybe they need to pay income tax too if we go with Condos ideas.

Reply

Willem Post April 27, 2018 at 11:38 am

Mary,
A good idea, but the law does not allow it.
If someone has a permanent residence outside of Vermont, there is no way in hell that person ha the right to vote in Vermont, regardless of intent to move to Vermont or not.

Condos is peddling sheer nonsense on his website,to deceive town clerks.

The courts should place an injunction on Condos to prevent him fro doing that.
He has no such rights.

He effectively is conducting malfeasance in office.

Just calling a spade a spade

Reply

William Hays May 5, 2018 at 4:23 am

Your last line is offensive, racist, and not PC. The truth hurts!

Reply

Jim May 4, 2018 at 9:52 pm

My old boss used to refer to someone stupid as not being able to pass the rain test which requires one to determine if it’s raining and if so come inside or put up an umbrella. I’d be interested to see how Condos would andle this incredibly difficult challenge. My guess is he woud fail miserably.

Reply

Edward Peck May 7, 2018 at 10:41 am

Is SOS Condos creating another avenue (hopefully not politically self-serving) to specifically increase the number of voters to support personal interests. How can existing Federal and in many cases individual states’ requirements of length of residency be ignored?

Reply

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