Minimal turnout for primaries

By Stephanie Choate
Observer staff
With few contested primary races, Williston voter turnout for the Aug. 26 primary elections was one of the lowest turnouts in recent years.
Town Clerk Deb Beckett said 352 voters turned out to the polls on Tuesday—just 4 percent of Williston’s registered voters. Of the voters, the town received 183 Republican ballots, 166 Democratic, 2 Progressive and 1 Liberty Union.
“There was very little that was getting people excited to get out and vote,” Beckett said.
Beckett said that since every voter gets four ballots, votes on one, and recycles three, the town ended up with more than 1,000 unused ballots in its recycling bins, plus nine cases of ballots left unopened. While the state pays for the ballots, the town is on the hook for the cost of the voting machine, approximately $2,000.
For a primary with few contested races, Beckett said it seems more effective to conduct party caucuses.
“It was an incredible expense for such a low turnout,” she said. “I have to believe that would be so much more cost effective to do it that way than what we just went through,” she said.

Below are the statewide results of some of the primary races, as of 1 p.m. on Wednesday. Williston results were not available before press deadline. For full results, visit

U.S. House, Republican
Mark Donka: 3,795 votes, 34 percent
Donald Nolte: 3,142 votes, 28.2 percent
Donald Russell: 3,630 votes, 32.6 percent

Vermont governor, Democratic
Peter Shumlin: 14,212 votes, 78 percent
H. Brooke Paige: 2,955 votes, 16.2 percent

Vermont governor, Republican
Scott Milne: 9,997 votes, 72.4 percent
Steve Berry: 948 votes, 6.9 percent
Emily Peyton: 1,970 votes, 14.3 percent

Chittenden County sheriff, Democratic
Kevin McLaughlin: 2,808 votes, 68.3 percent
Ed Cafferty: 1,300 votes, 31.6 percent