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Progressives Sound Alarm for Undemocratic Changes to Vermont Election Laws


February 14, 2023 MONTPELIER, VT --On Friday, House Government Operations Miscellaneous elections bill proposal draft #23-0705 was introduced, proposing various undemocratic changes to our election laws. The Progressive House Caucus and Senator Vyhovsky oppose the following aspects of the proposal which propose to:

  • Eliminate Fusion Candidacies.

  • Eliminate the ability of a candidate to run as a candidate of a political party after losing a different political party’s primary.

  • Eliminate the ability of a candidate to run on a general election ballot after losing a primary election for a party nomination, even if the candidate wins the endorsement of another political party or wants to run as an independent candidate.

  • Eliminate the limits for any contribution made between a political party and candidate.

The proposal also requires candidates to disclose personal information such as gender, age, race or ethnicity, but allows them to be able to appear on the ballot if they do not provide such information. This is an important provision to make sure Vermonters can protect their personal identity for a variety of reasons - individuals still exploring their own gender affirmation process or personal safety concerns related to targeted hate based on one’s identity. We encourage the committee to go one step further by placing safeguards on personal information to protect all individual candidate’s safety and privacy. This policy question presents an opportunity for our state to learn more about demographic trends in who runs for and serves in elected office, and therefore, patterns of underrepresentation. However it also presents an opportunity to protect candidates’ privacy and safety. The Secretary of State can aggregate information from consent paperwork for the benefit of public record and information, while protecting individuals.

Vermont has a long history of candidates running under the umbrella of multiple party labels, ensuring broad participation in politics and choices available to Vermonters. Eliminating fusion candidacies would force individuals running for office to choose one party, and give the upper hand to candidates with the support of larger political establishments with national resources. With 60 fusion candidates from several parties winning in Vermont’s 2022 General Election, this would force a significant number of elected officials to pick one party, thereby discouraging a candidate from seeking a broad array of political support from constituents. These proposals would hurt majority dual party and minority party candidates, as well as candidates who might opt to run as an Independent after losing the primary due to local primary unequal access to voters and party resources in a contested primary.

In Vermont, we should seek to expand the options available to voters through exploring options such as Ranked-Choice Voting, not limit choices available to Vermonters.

Progressives support public campaign financing, not a system that further enables the political parties and candidates to exchange unlimited financial resources. This favors well financed political parties with national deep pockets and infrastructure. It disadvantages less economically resourced and less known candidates trying to reach voters. This proposal would weaken campaign finance law by further amplifying the power imbalance in our political process.

We urge members of the House Committee on Government Operations to oppose any continued consideration of this proposed bill. This would undermine smaller, less-resourced political parties and would ultimately lead to less representative democracy for Vermonters.

Rep. Emma Mulvaney-Stanak, House Progressive Caucus Leader

Rep. Taylor Small, House Progressive Assistant Caucus Leader

Rep. Kate Logan

Rep. Troy Headrick

Rep. Brian Cina

Sen. Tanya Vyhovsky

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