Democracy, Elections & Accountability: Commentaries

"If virtue is to pervade the society, as many public decisions as possible must be made by the broadest range of citizens possible, and they must be made at a level as close as possible to citizens' daily experience."
    -John McClaughry, The Vermont Papers

"The effect of [a representative democracy is] to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of the nation...."
    -James Madison

All Commentaries

Commentary: The Condos 'Wet Paper Ballot Standard' surpasses "Gold Standard"

In his recent commentary, Secretary of State Jim Condos decried election disinformation’s potential to create distrust in our electoral process. Despite touting the “gold standard voter-marked paper ballot we use in Vermont,” Condos has done much to encourage such distrust in our electoral process while dismissing the importance of a free press in supporting free elections.

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Commentary: Public school democracy, voice vs. choice

New departures in sex education and union-promoted Critical Race Theory in the public schools are raising the temperature of parents and school board. Objecting parents should have the option they have at the college level: parent-empowered K-12 school choice.

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Commentary: Vermont’s Fourth Branch of Government

The Public Utility Commission, chaired by a noted climate warrior, makes up its own criterion – “societal benefit” – and may soon use that magical incantation to defeat citizen groups whose aesthetic objections would otherwise defeat a Big Solar project. Who voted for that?

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Commentary: Growing, Shifting VT Population May Shake Up ’22 Election Map

The 2020 Census numbers for Vermont indicate that our little state grew by about 20,000 people over the past decade, or +2.8%. We also know that within Vermont our overall population has been migrating toward the northwest region of the state (Chittenden, Franklin and Lamoille Counties), and away from the south and east. Moreover, there is a legislative mandate to break up the six-member Chittenden senate district (currently Chittenden County minus Colchester and Huntington/Buels Gore). All of these factors point to a legislative district map in 2022 that could look very different from the ones Vermonters have used, not just since 2012, but for many decades past.

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Commentary: When Should Juveniles Become Adults?

Gov. Scott has vetoed a bill (S.107) that stretches from 19 to 20 the age at which arrests and court proceedings are made public. The issue raises the question of when juveniles should be given the rights, protections – and privileges and responsibilities - of adults.



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Commentary: A Biden Supreme Court-Packing Battle?

President Biden is under pressure from the Democratic Left to seize control of the Supreme Court, by packing it with additional liberal justices committed to upholding the Biden program. President Roosevelt tried that in 1937, and got hammered flat.  It would destroy the independence of the Judiciary and fatally rupture the American system of a government of separated powers and constitutional fidelity.

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Commentary: The Least Secure Voting System in the Nation

Vermont is on the cusp of having the least secure election system in the nation.

The bill that passed the Vermont senate 27-3 (S.15) is now under consideration in the house. It would make permanent the temporary, COVID-emergency provisions adopted for the 2020 general election, including the policy of mailing “live” ballots to all voters who are active on the voter checklist, regardless of whether or not the voter requests an absentee ballot.

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Commentary: How Government Expands, and Liberty Contracts

A bill to register building contractors is just the first step toward eventual licensing even for local handymen, and enforced compliance with energy conservation building standards to defeat climate change, no matter what the cost.

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Commentary: Meet Your New Climate Government

Meet Your new Climate Government:  The Global Warming Solutions Act, enacted over Gov. Scott’s veto, establishes a 23-member Vermont Climate Council to create a Plan directing state agencies to adopt rules to reduce carbon dioxide emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050. Fourteen of the 15 legislative appointees are screened and true climate activists. They outnumber the administration appointees, and the lone  fuel sector member,  14-9.  Hold on to your wallet.

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Commentary: Early Voting Is Bad for Democracy

Every day there is a new announcement from the Vermont Secretary of State’s office proudly proclaiming how many people have cast their ballots weeks before election day on November 3rd. As I’m writing this opening paragraph that number is about 150,000. By the time I reach the end the number will likely be much higher. This is not a good thing. It’s certainly nothing to be proud of.

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Commentary: Vermont not ready for mail-in-voting says Colorado Secretary of State

Live ballots for the Vermont general election are in the mail and on their way to every active voter on the statewide checklist. Since coming up with this vote-by-mail scheme in response to Covid-19, Secretary of State Jim Condos has argued that it will work because other states have been operating vote-by-mail programs for years without any major problems.

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Commentary: Shout-downs place democracy in peril

For years, public demonstrations on issues ranging from abortion to climate change have been commonplace in Vermont, signs of a healthy civil discourse. But some demonstrations have taken a more sinister tone of late, undermining the foundations of our democracy.

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