Online voter registration
The Associated Press | October 16, 2015
MONTPELIER — Vermonters can now register to vote online.
Vermont Public Radio reports the new registration system debuted on the secretary of state’s website Monday morning. Secretary of State Jim Condos says the system will improve access to democracy and make elections less susceptible to fraud. He says the state can run an audit of their checklist to see if anyone appears in multiple locations.
Condos says the new system will particularly benefit military personnel stationed overseas, since they can fill out a paper remotely. The new system provides voters with a customized account where they can request absentee ballots, see sample ballots in their precinct, and retrieve information on upcoming elections.
Condos says the system will cost $2.7 million over 10 years. A formal launch event is expected next week.
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy is bringing $581,000 in federal money to Vermont to support the state’s local food movement.
The money is part of $42.4 million in federal grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to states and organizations throughout the country, including $73,750 for the Rutland Area Farm and Food Link, or RAFFL, to improve marketing and promotion projects for local food enterprises, ranging from food processing to farm-to-institution activities.
“Our partnership with the Vermont Country Store and Green Mountain Power enables businesses to create a culture of wellness at work sites and schools as customers order local farm products from area producers,” said RAFFL’s executive director, Tara Kelly. “It’s a win-win for employees looking to buy local, high-quality foods and farmers who need support in developing a year-round market.”
Other regional awards include $69,000 for the Randolph Farmers Market.
“Vermont is a leader in locally sourced food, but obstacles remain, particularly for our smaller producers,” said Leahy, senior member of the Senate Agriculture Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee.
“These bedrock investments will help expand programs that support family farms, open new farming opportunities and ensure that healthy, local foods are available to Vermonters of all income levels,” he said.
The field expands
Democratic gubernatorial candidates Matt Dunne and Sue Minter formally launched their campaigns last week with downtown rallies.
Dunne, a Google executive and former Windsor County senator, chose Barre for his launch, a decision that turned out to put the event in the wrong place at the wrong time.
His Monday event coincided with a train derailment in nearby Northfield, and television crews heading to his event were diverted to the crash.
And only about two dozen supporters were on hand, not counting media and campaign workers. Had Dunne chosen to hold his kickoff closer to his hometown of Hartland, he likely would have drawn more friends and supporters.
Dunne did not appear disheartened, however. His 20-minute speech included criticism of Gov. Peter Shumlin’s administration. Although both are Democrats, Dunne made clear he would have managed things much differently than the more brash Shumlin.
Dunne criticized progress on delivering broadband Internet service to Vermonters and the creation of the state’s online health insurance marketplace.
He also said the next governor must not be a “care taker,” seemingly referring to Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott. But he told reporters after his remarks that he was not referring to any specific candidate.
One thing was clear: Dunne is seeking to paint himself as the outsider and his fellow Democratic opponents, House Speaker Shap Smith and former transportation secretary Sue Minter, as Shumlin acolytes.
Minter, meanwhile, drew a much larger crowd in her hometown of Waterbury.
She touted several high-profile backers, including former Gov. Madeleine Kunin, and Doug Racine, a former lieutenant governor, state senator and Agency of Human Services secretary.
In the crowd was David Mears, the former commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation, who is well regarded in the environmental community.
Minter highlighted her management credentials and her tenure as the state’s chief recovery officer following Tropical Storm Irene. For Minter, convincing voters she will manage the state better than Shumlin is key.