Election Day proves busy for Chester voters; preferences reflect most of state

The Chester-Andover Family Center set up several tables filled with baked goods during its annual Election Day bake sale. This year, it also collected nonperishable foods to help fill its food pantry. / Photo by Cynthia Prairie.

By the time the 2nd floor polling place doors opened at 9 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6, a line of patient Chester voters snaked down the stairs, out the front door of Town Hall and into a chilly but sunny day that continued to draw a steady stream of voters to cast their ballots.

While the turnout was down 15% from 2008, 1,504 Chester voters either showed up at Town Hall or voted early or absentee. A bit less than one-quarter of voters cast absentee ballots. In 2008, the last presidential election, 1,304 Chesterites went to the polls and 454 voted absentee. And in 2010, 1,003 voted at Town Hall while 216 voted absentee.  This year, throughout the day, it could be difficult finding a parking space as drivers were jockeying for spaces around a difficult to navigate intersection.

At the top of the ticket with 966 votes, President Barack Obama carried Chester over the Romney/Ryan ticket’s total of 488 votes. This directly reflects the current Vermont count giving the president 66% of the Green Mountain State vote.

Vermont was the first state to be called for Obama, shortly after polls closed at 7 p.m.

In most statewide races, Chester’s votes mirrored the rest of the state.

Ken Barrett, left, and Town Clerk Deb Aldrich check the final tallies after the polls closed Tuesday night. / Photo by Shawn Cunningham.

Chester gave incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin 924 to Rep. Randy Brock’s 460 votes. And Shumlin won re-election, as did incumbent Republican Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, even though Chester gave Democrat/Progressive Cass Gekas three more votes –659 to 662.

In congressional races, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders’ and Rep. Peter Welch prevailed in Chester with 1,044 and 1,007 votes respectively – approximately three times the votes of their nearest competitors. Sanders was the first congressman nationwide to be declared a winner. Other statewide candidates who were winners in Chester were Secretary of State Jim Condos and Attorney General Bill Sorrell. Both won statewide as well.

Beth Pearce, a Democrat running for state treasurer, got the majority of Chester’s votes, 715 to Wendy Wilton’s 586. Statewide, Pearce won the seat that she had been appointed to fill. And Doug Hoffer beat Vince Illuzzi for auditor among Chester’ voters 730 to 551, as well as statewide.

For state Senate, Chester went straight down the line for the Democratic incumbents with Alice Nitka, taking 814 votes, John Campbell 703 and Dick McCormack 685. And all three won their seats handily. State Rep. Leigh Dakin, running unopposed, got 1,247 Chester votes, and won her seat with 97% of the vote.

And for the 12 Justice of the Peace slots in Chester, the 12 candidates won: Ruth Douglas 881; Ken Barrett with 851; Penny Benelli with 831; Cheryl LeClair with 783; Pat Budnick with 764; Molly Ferris with 748; Bruce Parks with 747; Lynne Cannon with 708; Robert Crawford with 659; Jeff Kibbe with 643; Colleen Truax with 617 and Tom Elgan with 583.

— Cynthia Prairie

On the cover: From left, Ken Barrett, Town Clerk Deb Aldrich and Julie Hance, assistant town clerk, look over final tallies. Photo by Shawn Cunningham.


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About the Author: Cynthia Prairie has been a newspaper editor for 30 years, having worked at such publications as the Raleigh Times, the Baltimore News American, the Buffalo Courier Express, the Chicago Sun-Times and the Patuxent Publishing chain of community newspapers in Maryland. She and her family moved to Chester, Vermont in 2004.

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