Correction: Decision to reopen sealed ballot bag not Chesnut-Tangerman’s

He was present but it wasn’t his decision, former Middletown Springs representative says

By Guy Page

Correction/Update: Earlier this week, Vermont Daily Chronicle reported on former Vermont Progressive House Caucus leader Robin Chesnut-Tangerman’s appointment to the Democratic nomination for his old House seat, now held by Republican Rep. Sally Achey, who defeated him in 2020. The Democratic nominee, Chris Hoyt, stepped down following the August 9 primary in which he was the only Democratic candidate.

The news story incorrectly that Chesnut-Tangerman opened sealed ballot bags following the 2020 primary election. However, he was in the room when the bags were opened, and does say his questions led to the bags being opened by town officials.

Shortly after the news story was published, RC-T sent VDC the following email:

This morning I read your scoop on my candidacy. I need to correct one egregious error in your reporting. You said the “Tangerman’s decision to reopen sealed ballot bags on the night of the 2020 primary may have provoked voter opposition.”
In fact, there are several factual errors in that sentence.

1) It was not my decision. In fact I was the only person in the room, observing from a separate table, who had no authority at all. The Board of Civil Authority, which I was not a member of, voted to open the bag with the agreement of the Town Clerk who was also present. Again, I had no decision making authority.

2) It was not the night of the primary but several days later when it became apparent that the names of write-in votes were not recorded.

3) Whatever voter opposition was stirred up was by this kind of distortion. What wasn’t reported was that I had called Patty McCoy, as a former Town Clerk who had sometimes assisted our clerk, for advice. Patty was not home. When she got the message and called our town office to say the this was not the correct process, the bag was immediately re-sealed. Minutes were taken all the way through and the chair of the BCA immediately wrote to the Secretary of State’s office taking full responsibility for the error.

This was not “my decision”.

I know that you value clarity and accuracy in reporting, so I offer up these corrections in that light.


The Chronicle responded:

Thanks for your note. I will correct factual errors. I understand it was not your decision – was it, however, at your prompting?

To which RC-T responded:

I set it in motion by asking the question, “Who was the write in vote for?” That led to the unsealing of the bag. So I’m not sure what the right word is; maybe prompting but even that seems a little too directive. I asked for information that should have been publicly available. It was the BCA trying to provide that information that caused them to decide to open the bag.

The corrected news story in its entirety can be read here.

Categories: politics

2 replies »

  1. Chesnut-Tangerman may not have had the authority to open the bag, but as chair of the Legislative Committee on Administrative Rules from 2019-2020 he darn well kew doing so was illegal. And the fact that HE HIMSELF wrote an op-ed about a botched recount spoiled by opening a ballot bag in 2017 — another fiasco he had a hand in. You can read it here: https://vtdigger.org/2017/03/06/robin-chesnut-tangerman-recount-never/. That he asked for this to be done in the first place is inexcusable. He just thought he could get away with it.

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