Turnout low in Tuesday's primary voting

NORTHSHIRE -- In what may be a historic sweep, a former state representative pulled off a rare political trifecta.

Oliver Olsen, who represented the Windham-Bennington-Windsor district that includes the towns of Jamaica, Stratton, Winhall, Londonderry and Weston, topped the voting in the Republican, Democrat, and Progressive primary elections Tuesday while running officially as an Independent. Olsen declined to comment directly on the outcome of the election, but in a statement released Wednesday afternoon, said he would run in the general election this November as a "fusion candidate."

"I sincerely appreciate the support I have received from people across our district," he stated in the announcement.

According to the statement, he won 70 percent of the votes in the Democrat primary, as well as 96 percent of the Republican votes and 60 percent of the Progressive Party primary. That left Teresa Ellsworth, who was running on the Progressive Party line apparently off the ballot in November. When reached, Ellsworth referred comments to the chairwoman of the Progressive Party, Emma Mulvaney-Stanak.

Both locally and in other elections across the state, the primary elections were a story of low voter turnout. According to the Secretary of State's office, as of July 31, there were roughly 440,000 registered voters in the state. As of press time, approximately 88 percent of precincts are reporting results, with about 32,000 Vermonters voting in this primary. Across towns in the area, approximately 5 or 6 percent of voters turned out to the polls. Marjorie Peff, town clerk in Sandgate, said she was not town clerk during the previous election, but she thought turnout then (in 2012) was around 50 votes.

This year, out of a total voter checklist of 296, only 31 voted.

"It's not a great showing, let's put it that way" she said.

Judy Livingston, a write-in Republican candidate from Manchester, received enough votes to move through to the general election in November. Livingston said she has reaffirmed in her decision to run.

Livingston, Tony duPont, incumbent Cynthia Browning (D) and Steven Berry (D) will be on the ballot in November. All four candidates are running in the Bennington-4 district, which includes the towns of Manchester, Arlington, Sandgate and most of Sunderland.

Tony duPont, who will also represent the Republican Party in November, said he was surprised by the low turn out of voters. duPont said an issue he will be highlighting moving into November is the increase in the state's budget without seeing an increase in Vermont citizens' paychecks.

"I'll be focusing [moving toward the general election] on meeting new people and talking to them," he said.

In Manchester, Browning did not receive as many votes as Berry, but she had more cast for her in Arlington, Sandgate and parts of Sunderland.

Dorset was a relative anomaly. Town Clerk Sandy Pinsonault said of 656 voters on the town's checklist, 196 cast a ballot, almost a third of voters. She said this is a similar voter turn out to primary elections in the past.

Incumbent Republican Patti Komline will be challenged by Democrat Mary Barrosse-Schwartz for state representative.

While both made it through the primary to the general election, Komline also received 33 write-in votes on the Democratic ticket. Komline got 66 votes as a Republican.

"I'm glad I got cross party support," Komline said. "I look forward to hearing from people [moving into the general election] and I'm sure it will be about [the cost of] property taxes and health care."

Barrosse-Schwartz also said she will continue to speak with people and was thrilled with such great voter turnout. She said she will listen to constituents concerns to become a more effective legislator. She received 87 votes in the Democratic primary balloting.

In statewide elections, most voters in the area voted with the state. Incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin beat H. Brooke Paige, winning 77 percent of the votes. Shumlin beat Paige in all the primaries in this area.

Scott Milne beat Emily Peyton and Steve Berry [not the same Steve Berry as the candidate for state representative in Manchester] in the Republican primary. Statewide, Milne received 72 percent of the vote.

In the federal primaries this election, Democrat incumbent Peter Welch was unopposed and won his primary. Mark Donka was the winner in a closely fought three way race in the Republican primary, and will face Welch in the general election.

A full list of election results will be posted to the website, manchesterjournal.com, as soon as possible.


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