To the editor: Legislature should pass single-member districts

Below is a letter sent to state Reps. Carolyn Patridge and Leslie Goldman, both Democrats representing Windham-3, on the morning of Friday, Jan. 14.

Good morning, Carolyn and Leslie,

Best wishes to you and yours for the new year.

This afternoon, the Vermont House will vote on redistricting the electoral districts in the state.  As you are aware the Vermont Legislative Apportionment Board voted 4-3 in favor of single member districts.  The board represents all three major electoral parties, received clear indication of support for single member districts from town Boards of Civil Authority and participating citizens.  The board followed due process, admirably.

Before you this afternoon is a proposal to nullify the single member district recommendation of the Vermont Legislative Apportionment Board.  I strongly urge you to vote for the amendment that would retain the single member districts proposal.

The single member districts would more closely reflect the will of citizens, be simpler to understand, and would encourage greater accountability of representatives to those they represent.  Our own district, Windham 3-1, is a case in point.  The district includes Rockingham, Grafton, Athens, Windham, Brookline, and a small portion of Westminster, all represented by two legislators. Rockingham, including Bellows Falls, swamps the votes of the remaining towns in the district.  Brookline relates in practice, school, transportation, etc., to the West River Valley and not to the Saxtons River Valley.  The inclusion of a tiny bit of Westminster in the district is arbitrary.

There is another notable point about Windham-3 voting history: In the 2020 election for the district’s two members of the House of Representatives there is an anomalously large number of blank votes, a number approximately the same as the number of votes each of you received.  Although it is difficult to know the cause or causes of such a high number of blank votes, the fact remains that a large number of voters did not take part in selecting two representatives.  This fact speaks loudly for a single member district.

The proposed Vermont Legislative Apportionment Board electoral district that would include my town of Grafton is a north-south district including the whole towns of Chester, Grafton, and Athens, all small towns compared to Rockingham, and thus small-town Vermont would be represented directly by a single house member.

I strongly urge you to vote for the amendment that would result in the single member districts as recommended by the Vermont Legislative Apportionment Board.


Anna Vesely Pilette

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