Vermont State Senate considers amending the state constitution

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January 13, 2011


Montpelier, VT: Lawmakers in Vermont are considering a change in the way the state's top executive officials are elected. Under the elections section of the state constitution, "the person who has the major part of the votes" in the election for governor, lieutenant governor and treasurer is declared to have won. In the event that no candidate wins a clear majority of the votes, the state legislature decides the races.

In the 2010 elections, neither Gov. Peter Shumlin nor Lt. Gov. Phillip Scott won a majority of the votes in their respective races. The Vermont State Senate is considering a proposal to amend the state constitution that would "allow candidates for governor and lieutenant governor to win if they get the most votes," rather than a majority.[1] The amendment would also extend the length of the terms the governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, secretary of state, auditor serve from two to four years.

With the state executive primary elections scheduled in Vermont for August 28, 2012, it remains unclear whether or not the amendment would pass in time to take effect for this year's elections. In order to amend the state constitution, they must earn a two-thirds vote of the members of the Vermont State Senate, but require only a majority vote of members of the Vermont House of Representatives. The amendment is then considered again at the next biennial session of the general assembly. The amendment must win a majority vote of both chambers when it is considered for this second time and if passed, it is put to a popular vote. If a simple majority vote of the state's electors approve the amendment, it becomes part of the state's constitution.[2]


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