Honorable Mention:
Mary Jane Reen, Grade 8: Mater Christi School

Mary Jane Reen and Secretary Markowitz

The Amendment

Should the Vermont State constitution, stating that the candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, and treasurer must obtain fifty percent of the popular vote, be amended? I feel that, in order to have the voice of the people heard, this law concerning the elections should be changed.

The current procedure for being elected as governor, lieutenant governor, or treasurer greatly resembles that of the highly controversial Electoral College. In order to be elected and hold the office of one of these state officials, one must obtain at least fifty percent of the popular vote. It is a rarity for this to occur and, as a result, it goes to the

legislature.

Here, the Vermont State Senate and House of Representatives vote between the top two vote getters and, in theory, decide who fills these offices. I feel that this procedure diminishes the peoples’ vote. There are several solutions to this problem, some more sensible than others.

One possible solution is to hold a special run – off election between the top two candidates. However, this would cause several unnecessary complications. First of all, one should consider voter turn – out. Many registered voters do not bother to go to the regular elections.

Therefore, there would probably be an even lower voter turnout if there were a second

election. In addition, the people who voted for other candidates may not want to give their vote to another party. Thus, the margin between the two candidates may remain relatively the same, which would defeat the purpose of having this run-off election. The special election would also cost money, which would have an adverse effect on taxes.

I feel that the best solution is for the candidates to win simply by plurality, that is the top vote getter. This would cost no extra money and would still allow the people to decide. However, it could be argued that, in the case of a candidate only receiving 1/3 of the popular vote, sixty percent of the people do not have a say. This could be true, but it could also be argued that, if the legislature voted, none of the voters would have a say.

In some elections, the second highest vote getter graciously drops out of the race. This is done in order to insure that the election is not drawn-out and prolonged and doesn’t take peoples’ focus off the more important tasks at hand. This event occurred in the most recent elections when Doug Racine dropped out and Jim Douglas, the winner of the populous vote, became governor. Despite the requirement of two-thirds majority of

approval in the legislature in order to amend the constitution, I think it would be well worth the while in order to make the voice of the people more clearly heard. Even though, in relativity to other world issues, this is a rather minor topic, I feel that it is still important to address and amend that section of the Vermont State Constitution.