Town clerks observe voters' sentiment
11/06/02 12:00AM By Betty Smith-Mastaler
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(Host) At Vermont's polling places, Election Day provides a unique look into the voters' minds. Among those who get to see this side of Vermonters are the state's venerable town clerks.
VPR's Betty Smith stopped in at the polls to observe a strong turnout and to sample voter opinion.
(Smith) By noon it appeared that turnout would be heavier than expected. That was the case in Norwich, where town clerk Bonny Munday supervised the voting:
(Munday) "It's been very steady since about 7:00 a.m. It's not very often that I've had empty booths throughout the day."
(Smith) Town clerk Flo-Ann Dango also reported that voter numbers were strong in Weathersfield:
(Dango) "The turnout's been excellent, excellent. Very, very good. We opened at 8:00 a.m. and we had like, we were probably getting them through here one a minute."
(Smith) Hartford Town Clerk Beth Hill didn't think turnout would be adversely affected by early voting:
(Hill) "We've actually had a pretty good turnout so far today and we've had a lot of absentee ballots. You know, I think people are still coming out and voting."
(Smith) Town Clerks Dango and Munday both said that early voting brought in a lot of ballots in their towns.
(Dango) "Absentees, we've had over 200, probably 205 or 206 I think. And I probably have at this point maybe 15 that haven't come back."
(Munday) "We've probably, well, easily tripled what we normally do in absentee ballots here. And I've heard in other towns it's been quite the same, if not more so."
(Smith) One who chose to vote at the polls was Eric Gottesman of Norwich. He was most concerned about the races for governor and lieutenant governor:
(Gottesman) "We've had Dean for a long time, so you know it's going to set future directions for Vermont. So I think that's probably most important."
(Smith) Penny McConnel of Norwich said that the candidates were not as dynamic as she had hoped they'd be. And she worried that the Legislature might decide the governor's race:
(McConnel) "In fact, I thought most of them were not exciting, with maybe one exception. My exception? Anthony Pollina. I have a fear that it'll go to the Legislature, and then who knows what's going to happen."
(Smith) Weathersfield Town Clerk Flo-Ann Dango voiced a similar sentiment:
(Dango) "I guess I can say I don't like the idea of them choosing. I think the voters should choose."
(Smith) At the polls, others expressed a variety of opinions. One voter worried that the civil union law might be repealed if the balance in the Legislature shifts. Another voted Republican for the first time in her life because of property taxes and Act 60. Two young would-be voters were disappointed to find that Vermont, unlike New Hampshire, doesn't have same-day registration. And quite a few parents had children in tow for impromptu civics lessons.
Several folks thought that the wording of the constitutional amendment that would allow judges to serve beyond age 70 was confusing. And while the mood of the voters seemed mostly matter of fact, Joan Vogel of Wilder took a positive view:
(Vogel) "I think we had excellent choices. I was very pleased. Vermont is one of those places where I never feel bad about the decisions I make."
(Smith) For the town clerks, as the afternoon wore on, the polls just got busier. The traffic turning into the parking lot behind the Weathersfield Town Offices was steadily increasing.
At the polls for Vermont Public Radio, I'm Betty Smith.