Second Homeowners Testify Condos’ Office Okayed Voting In Vermont

by Rob Roper

The case surrounding voter irregularity in Victory, Vermont, currently in the Essex superior court, involves a number of people who do not live in the town voting in local elections – enough to sway the outcome of at least one contest. Testimony from the case would indicate that these folks had at least an inkling that what they were doing was wrong, or at least fishy, because they asked the Secretary of State’s (SOS) office if what they were doing was really legal. However, according to their sworn testimony, officials in the SOS office told them it was okay.

It is important to note that none of these people ever claimed to be domiciled in the town where they were voting, as one has to be according to Vermont law in order to be added to the voter checklist. The statute clearly states, that a voter must be “a person who IS [repeat, “is”] domiciled in the town as evidenced by an intent to maintain a principal dwelling place in the town indefinitely….” [emphasis added].

The Flanigan family (two parents and two adult children) and another couple, Laury Saligman and John McGill, are open about the fact that they maintain principal dwelling places in Connecticut and Montpelier respectively. What they have in Victory are second homes (McGill/Saligman have a non-winterized cabin). They would like to move there permanently at some point in the future – but they don’t live there now. In the Saligman/McGill case, that intention to move is admittedly some twelve years in the future, and is nebulously dependent upon the growth of a business.

Clear and open about the fact that none of them actually live in Victory, they each contend, under oath, that they contacted the SOS office to ask if they could nevertheless vote there. Here are excerpts from their sworn testimony:

McGill: “Before applying to be on the Victory checklist I discussed my situation with the Secretary of State and was advised I was eligible to vote in Victory.”

Saligman: “Before registering to vote, my husband called the Secretary of State’s office several times to go over our situation and inquire about voting eligibility. He had several conversations and was told that since we have invested significantly in winterizing and updating our cabin, pay significant taxes, and have an intent to move to Victory we would have the right to vote in Victory….”

Toni Flanigan: “Before submitting the [voter registration] form I spoke to the Secretary of State Elections office and I was told not to fill it [the sections asking whether you are a resident of Vermont and asking whether have taken the Voter’s Oath] out until we became full-time residents when we retire. They also told me I was eligible to vote in Victory.”

Robert Flanigan’s answer was identical to his wife’s.

If their testimony is true, the Secretary of State’s office under Jim Condos is actively undermining Vermont’s clearly written election law regarding residency requirements. If Condos’ misinterpretation of 17 V.S.A. § 2122(b) is not challenged, anyone who owns property in Vermont is eligible to register to vote here, regardless of their actual primary dwelling place.

How many other out-of-state, part time property owners, how many Town Clerks, how many Boards of Civil Authority have received this misguided, illegal advice from our Secretary of State? How many local elections has this affected?

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

SHAZZAM November 17, 2017 at 2:53 am

But, but, the our state’so AG said there was no voter fraud as president Trump claimed ….

Reply

Mary F Daly November 17, 2017 at 12:02 pm

Having been on a BCA for many years, I find this information very unsettling. As far as I am concerned it is voter fraud perpetuated by our Secretary of State.

Reply

Jim Condos November 17, 2017 at 8:45 pm

Mr. Roper, let me be very clear… As I replied to your Op Ed of 9/21 & and my email of 11/16…

We do not believe, and would never suggest, that the language in the residency definition means second home owners in Vermont may register to vote here.

As for the testimony of the Flanigans and Mr. McGill, at no time did anyone in this office tell any of these individuals that they were qualified to register and vote in Victory.

As is our practice with all calls we receive with questions about a person’s eligibility to register, we explain the requirements and leave the decision as to whether they qualify up to them, their town clerk, and the local Board of Civil Authority – which is the statutory process..

They have clearly misunderstood what we told them – in what appears to be a case of hearing what they want to hear.

The decision to add someone to a voter checklist is a LOCAL decision made by the Town Clerk or the Board of Civil Authority. We do not have all of the facts. We are not advising the Victory BCA or any other BCA about whom to add or remove from their checklist. It is now up to the courts to decide whether the Victory BCA got it right – this is the process outlined in statute.

Reply

William Hays November 18, 2017 at 6:48 am

Methinks the problem clearly lies with Jim Condos, the Secretary of State, and his totally incompetent staff. He should be, summarily, removed from office and replaced by someone with a modicum of common sense. Can/will RINO Gov. Scott do that?

Reply

Cynthia Stuart November 18, 2017 at 3:08 pm

Mr. Hays –

Victory has experienced years of feuding and non-civilized behavior (see Seven Days article link below) on the part of many townspeople and elected officials. No other towns in Vermont are dealing with voters claiming that the SOS indicated they could be be added to the voter checklist without residency. Before we suggest we throw our elected officials out-of-office, we might want to examine the situation more closely or Vermont won’t have anyone willing to hold these important positions.

https://www.sevendaysvt.com/vermont/an-ongoing-feud-illustrates-the-dark-side-of-small-town-life/Content?oid=2539615

Respectfully,

Cynthia Stuart

Reply

Bob Smitton November 21, 2017 at 4:49 am

While I do agree that we should actually open a full investigation before throwing anyone out of office, it does seem all too convenient that people from entirely different states have more or less the same story. So are we to believe that these people conspired or is it more plausible that what they are saying is true.

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