Palmer requests primary recount

Williston resident 25 votes behind in state Senate race

By Kim Howard
Observer staff

Williston resident Tim Palmer on Monday filed a petition requesting a Chittenden County vote recount for last week’s Democratic primary election for state Senate.

“The margin of less than one vote per polling place is so small that the slightest mechanical or tabulation error could have resulted in an inaccurate outcome,” Palmer, 56, wrote in a statement explaining his recount request. Though there are only 18 cities and towns in Chittenden County, several municipalities have multiple polling places.

Palmer ended the primary election 25 votes behind Dennis McMahon of Burlington, according to Chittenden County Superior Court Clerk Diane Lavallee. According to the vote tally, Palmer earned 3,471 votes compared with McMahon’s 3,496, giving McMahon the last spot on the Democratic slate for Chittenden County representation in the Senate. Each major party is allowed six candidates on the ballot for November’s general election; eight Democrats ran for that office in the primary.

According to Vermont election law, if the difference between the number of votes cast for a winning candidate and the number of votes cast for a losing candidate is less than 5 percent of the total votes cast for all candidates for the office, divided by the number of persons to be elected, the losing candidate has the right to have the votes for that office recounted. More than 43,000 votes were cast in Chittenden County’s Democratic Party primary for state Senate. Recounts must be requested within 10 days of the election.

“Having had my faith in the electoral process shaken by the handling of votes in the last two presidential elections, I have a responsibility to those who voted for me, and to all voters, to make certain that their votes are accurately counted,” Palmer said in the statement.

McMahon said he thinks a recount will not change the outcome and that a recount is not “good for business.”

“I would rather it not happen, but that certainly is his right,” McMahon said. “I think it does set me back a little in terms of fundraising and other things.”

“I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the same thing myself,” he added.

Palmer said he hopes the recount moves forward expeditiously so that time may be spent on the issues significant to Vermonters. Lavallee said the recount is set for Tuesday, Sept. 26.

The five Democratic candidates whose slots on November’s ballot for senators representing Chittenden County are, in order of most votes received, Doug Racine, Ed Flanagan, Ginny Lyons, Jim Condos and Hinda Miller. The Republican slate will include J. Dennis Delaney, Diane Snelling, John Stewart and Agnes Clift. Darren Adams, the Republican with the sixth highest vote total, has said he will not be running as he has enlisted with the Marines; the Republican Party caucus must nominate a replacement.

Lavallee said there were 109 different write-ins for the position to represent the Progressive Party, and 12 different write-ins for the Liberty Union Party so it is likely there will be no one on the ballot for each of those parties. Independents interested in the position must file with the Secretary of State’s office; that information was not available prior to press time.