On the opening day of Vermont’s legislative session, a politically diverse group of lawmakers joined VPIRG in calling for an amendment to the state Constitution so that all future leaders are elected by the people of the state.
Currently, Vermont’s Constitution requires legislators to choose the winner in races for governor, lieutenant governor or treasurer where no candidate gets a majority of votes cast. Sen. Anthony Pollina (D/P) is proposing an amendment that would ensure popularly elected leaders by having the candidate with the most votes declared the winner, as long as that candidate has at least 40 percent of the total votes cast. If no candidate gets at least 40 percent of the vote, a run-off election would be held in early December.
Longtime Sen. Bill Doyle (R) has proposed a similar amendment a number of times in the past and will so do again this year. Sen. Jeanette White, chair of the Senate Government Operations Committee has also sponsored amendment language in the past and is supporting an amendment this year as well.
“From VPIRG’s perspective, the concept is pretty simple. The voters of Vermont should be the ones who decide who our governor and other top elected leaders will be,” said VPIRG’s Executive Director, Paul Burns. “This year’s election has only provided more evidence that we need a constitutional amendment now. It’s fair, it’s democratic and it’s time.”
Amendment details will be considered by the Senate this year.
“We’re lucky to have a successful democracy, with competitive elections and good third-party candidates, so we should expect more close elections in the future. But it’s the citizens, not lawmakers, who should be deciding those elections,” said Sen. Anthony Pollina.