Vermont secretary of state predicts high Tuesday turnout

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MONTPELIER — The presence of home-state Sen. Bernie Sanders on the Democratic presidential primary ballot is expected to draw more voters than usual when Vermont joins 11 other states in Super Tuesday balloting.

In addition to the presidential primary, Vermonters will vote on town and school budgets as part of the annual Town Meeting Day.

Voter registration numbers are up this year, but it's hard to tell how much of that is due to excitement over Sanders' candidacy and how much is because of a new online voter registration system that makes it easier to sign up to vote, Secretary of State Jim Condos said.

In 2012, voter turnout on Super Tuesday in Vermont was 23 percent. In 2008, the year Barack Obama first sought the Democratic presidential nomination, the figure was 46.6 percent.

Condos said he expected having Sanders in the race would increase turnout.

"How much?" Condos said. "We can't tell you that. We have no clue."

Vermont is one of a dozen states casting votes for party nominees on March 1, the biggest single-day delegate haul of the nomination contests. Some states have contests that day for only one party. Republicans will vote in 11 states, with 595 delegates at stake. Democrats will vote in 11 states and American Samoa, with 865 delegates up for grabs.

Currently 10 Republicans are on the ballot in Vermont and four Democrats, including Sanders, but many of the candidates whose names are on the ballot have dropped out of the race.

The Vermont Democrats have 16 pledged delegates, allocated by district and statewide vote according to standard Democratic rules, and 10 superdelegates who are free to cast their votes at their party's convention as they choose. The Vermont Republican Party also has 16 delegates.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties in Vermont distribute their delegates for their respective nominating conventions using their parties' formulas.

Vermont voters are free to cast ballots in either primary, but which party they choose will be recorded at the voters' local polling place.


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