No investigation of 10 votes ‘magically’ found for David Zuckerman in 2020 election
by Dolores Luebke
As we move forward in our 2022 election cycle, “messy voter rolls” have become a primary concern in Vermonters’ quest for voter integrity. If we are to prevent repeating past voting irregularities, it is important that we voters hold our public officials accountable for performing their duties in a competent and ethical manner. We must require candidates to follow election laws and behave ethically.
Election irregularities have been acceptable in Vermont if they benefit party-anointed Progressive or Democrat candidates. In the 2020 primary election, after the polls closed, Progressive Candidate Cris Ericson with 254 votes was only 9 votes behind write-in Candidate Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman’s 263 votes. This narrow margin meets the threshold for a recount. Ericson attempted to challenge the vote and ask for a recount. Candidate Ericson was rebuked by Attorney General Condos, and overnight, without any legal recounts, Zuckerman’s votes increased by 10. This change gave Zuckerman a 19-vote lead with exactly the tiny fraction needed to stop a recount.
In the background, Rutland-Bennington District State Representative Robin Chesnut-Tangerman, leader of the House Progressive caucus was running for re-election. Chesnut-Tangerman coerced the Middletown Springs Board of Civil Authority to illegally open the sealed voted and not-voted ballot bags from the election in his presence. One write-in vote for Candidate Zuckerman was ‘found’. With no recounts or duly authorized legal opening of any ballot bags, Lieutenant Governor Zuckerman’s numbers increased by 10 votes statewide overnight on the deadline date for requesting a recount. Magically, the 10 votes needed to stop a recount appeared on the Secretary of State’s election website.
During the 2020 Election, I was serving as Pawlet Republican Committee Chair and Republican Coordinator for the Rutland-Bennington District which was comprised of Middletown Springs, Pawlet, Rupert, part of Tinmouth and Wells. There is a legal procedure to be followed for opening ballot bags requiring among other things that no candidates be present at such an event. I was notified by outraged voters that election security had been breached in Middletown Springs and that the integrity of the election was being questioned. It became apparent that there was more to this scenario than just one vote for Gubernatorial Candidate David Zuckerman.
Subsequently, I wrote to Will Senning, Director of Elections, and copied Jim Condos, Secretary of State. Effectively, Director Senning’s response was that he found no problem with the unorthodox opening of the ballot bags at the request of Candidate Chesnut-Tangerman or the candidate’s presence during the examination of the ballots. Terry Burke, Rutland County Republican Chair, filed a Vermont State Ethics Commission Complaint. Neither an investigation nor ruling were made by the Ethics Commission. The consensus from Montpelier appears to be that although it is technically illegal to break into sealed election results, it is not worth pursuing if the perpetrators have the right connections.
Getting back to the Hen House, what was the source of the nine other votes that prevented a recount of Progressive Party Lieutenant Governor ballots? It seems apparent that some other towns’ ballot bags were illegally unsealed, and numbers changed. Someone must have orchestrated this maneuver. If those who make the laws, break the laws, who is the fox in the Vermont’s State House?
The author is a West Pawlet resident.