Voters followed some trends, bucked others
BENNINGTON — Voters turned out in significant numbers on Tuesday, sometimes to affirm countywide or statewide voting trends, sometimes to buck those trends.
Bennington, for instance, was the only county town to back the Democratic candidate for governor, Christine Hallquist, over Gov. Phil Scott, 2,259 votes to 2,243.
The Democrat, seeking to become the nation's first transgender person elected governor, also won in 11 towns clustered in the Brattleboro area, and towns in the Middlebury and Montpelier areas, along with the city of Burlington.
She dominated with 63.54 percent of the vote in Burlington and 60.53 percent in Montpelier, but the majority of Vermont communities backed the governor for re-election, according to results posted on the Secretary of State's website.
Hallquist lost statewide to the incumbent Republican, 151,218 votes to 110,31, or 54.39 percent to 39.58 percent.
Searsburg and Stamford
Other winners in statewide contests also dominated in Bennington County towns, but a couple communities sometimes differed. Searsburg and Stamford led the way in that regard.
The neighbor towns were alone in the county in favoring the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Don Turner Jr., over incumbent Democrat David Zuckman, who easily won statewide.
The towns also were alone locally in supporting Republican Richard Kenyon for auditor of accounts over incumbent Democrat Doug Hoffer.
And Searsburg was alone in supporting the Republican candidate for state treasurer, Richard Morton, over incumbent Democrat Beth Pearce; Republican H. Brooke Paige over Secretary of State Jim Condos, a Democrat, and Republican candidate Janssen Willhoit over Attorney General T.J. Donovan, a Democrat.
All of the margins in the tiny hill town were from 1 to 3 votes.
The Democratic candidates swept all of the statewide offices below governor.
Concerning U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and U.S. Rep. Peter Welch, every county town supported the incumbent federal legislators.
However, Republican Lawrence Zupan, of Manchester, finished second to Sanders, and independent Brad Peacock of Shaftsbury finished third.
Statewide, Sanders received 183,514 votes to 74,650 for Zupan and 3,787 for Peacock.
In a countywide legislative race, the area's two incumbent state senators, Dick Sears and Brian Campion, both Bennington Democrats, were victorious in every town over a newcomer, Libertatian Jeff Kaufer, of Shaftsbury.
Sears received 10,517 votes Tuesday, Campion, 9,734, and Kaufer, 2,762.
In other county races not previously reported, Probate Judge D. Justine Scanlon; Assistant Judges James Colvin and Wesley Mook. and High Baliff Frederick Gilbar all were elected without opposition.
Arlington Town Clerk Robin Wilcox said 57 percent of registered voters turned out, or 1,098 of 1,929 on the list casting ballots.
"It is definitely more than we normally have for a mid-term election," she said.
Bennington Clerk Cassandra Barbeau said the turnout was 53 percent of registered voters.
"That number is fluid," she said, "because we had many same day voter registrations that haven't officially been entered into the system, but I am using 9,660 as total checklist."
That voting total appears "very comparable to the 2010 mid-term," she said, adding that in November 2014, turnout in Bennington was about 45 percent.
Anita Sheldon, the clerk in Manchester, said 54 percent of voters cast ballots Tuesday, or 2,133. She said that compares to 2,447 voters for the 2016 presidential year election.
Pownal Town Clerk Julie Weber said 1,332 voters of about 2,555 on the checklist turned out, or about 52 percent. There were 1,653 voters in the 2016 presidential year election, she said.
"We also had the most absentee ballots I've ever seen, 301," Weber said.
"I was very impressed with the [same-day] voting," she said, or residents who registered to vote on election day. "We always have one or two, but this time we had 23."
Weber said the town saw "about a hundred people an hour, all day long, even in the pouring rain."
Jim Therrien writes for New England Newspapers in Southern Vermont, including the Bennington Banner and Manchester Journal.
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