Howard Dean and Burlington Councilor Zoraya Hightower launch choice voting campaign


BURLINGTON, Vermont – With just over five weeks to go to Town Meeting Day, a ballot in Burlington has a former Vermont governor coming in to show his support.

Preferential voting has a complicated history in the Queen City – voters approved it in 2005, then repealed it in 2010 by 303 votes. In recent years, a gradual change in Burlington City Council has sparked a concerted effort to put the issue back to voters. On the day of the town meeting, they will have the opportunity to speak out.

This time around, there appears to be growing bipartisan support. Notably, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean (D) lent his voice to the cause.

On Friday, he joined Councilor Zoraya Hightower (P), V-PIRG, League of Women Voters and Rights and Democracy to launch the Best Burlington Campaign.

“It gives an opportunity to people who are not on the inside,” Dean said. “I think that’s important, we have to listen to people who have opinions that we might not have taken into account instead of the traditional” work your way up to the top of the party, then you can run for something. thing. “

The system allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate obtains the majority of the first preference votes, an automatic second round is triggered. The candidate with the fewest first preference votes is eliminated and his supporters’ second choice votes are counted.

Voters decided to repeal the preferential vote following the re-election of former Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss (P) in 2009, despite Republican Kurt Wright receiving more first preference votes.

Kiss won because he got more second preference votes than Wright when Democratic candidate Andy Montroll was knocked out in the second ballot.

Councilor Hightower believes the preferential vote will reduce negative campaigning and pave the way for more BIPOC candidates to run for local office.

“I think one of the biggest attributes to that is unity and being able to say, ‘Oh, I didn’t get my first choice, but I got my second choice,” Hightower said. The fact that voters are really fighting with all the candidates they want to see. “

If passed, the preferential vote would take effect in 2022. It would first require approval from the Vermont legislature.

Last year, Mayor Miro Weinberger vetoed the inclusion of a preferential vote question in the November ballot. He is in favor of voters deciding the day of the municipal assembly, but his personal perspective as a voter has not changed. He mentioned that this is a difficult problem to solve, as a lot of people he respects have a different view of the pros and cons.

“I don’t think this system worked well in the Burlington election,” Weinberger said. “This has led the campaigns to be very hesitant to make substantive distinctions between themselves due to the fear of alienating the second or third votes of other candidates. I was a campaign chairman for a mayoral candidate during this time. I just don’t think it worked well.

Town hall day is March 2, and Burlington leaders are currently in the process of ensuring that all voters will have the opportunity to mail their ballots.


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