Live Blog: VPR's 2014 Election Coverage

Nov 5, 2014

Voters across Vermont cast ballots Tuesday, and all but one major race has been called. It's still unclear who will hold the governor's office, though Gov. Peter Shumlin holds a small lead over Republican challenger Scott Milne.

3:13 p.m. Nov. 5 Gov. Peter Shumlin has declared victory for himself at a press conference in City Hall Park in Burlington. Shumlin said the results were "a disappointment" and said he would reflect on the message Vermonters sent in this election.

2:05 p.m. Nov. 5 Republican candidate for governor Scott Milne has quietly left the Sheraton hotel in South Burlington, where he was expected to make a statement once all election results were reported. Despite the Associated Press reporting that Milne came in second place in the full results just after noon, Milne did not address the press.

Milne's daughter thanked everyone for their patience and brought pizza and salad to the expectant press corps, but said her father had left the building.

Gov. Peter Shumlin is expected to give a news conference at 3 p.m. in Burlington's City Hall Park.

1:38 p.m. Nov 5 Now that Republicans have regained control of the U.S. Senate, VPR's Mitch Wertlieb spoke with Linda Fowler, professor emerita of government at Dartmouth College, about what the implications will be for Vermont's senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders. 

12:21 p.m. Nov. 5 The Associated Press is now reporting results from all 275 of the state's voting districts, and those unofficial results show Gov. Peter Shumlin received the most votes.

The results, which are pending official confirmation from the Secretary of State's office, show that Shumlin received 89,874 votes - just 2,088 more than Republican challenger Scott Milne. Because Shumlin received less than a majority of the vote (he got 46.42 percent, according to the Associated Press data), the Legislature will officially choose a victor in January. However, in all legislature-chosen gubernatorial races since the 1800s, the candidate with the most votes has been the victor.

Correction 10:45 a.m. Nov. 6 A previous version of the above update did not specify "all legislature-chosen gubernatorial races." The error has been fixed.

12:08 p.m. Nov. 5 While we wait for word from the campaigns of Gov. Peter Shumlin and challenger Scott Milne, this report, noting an apparently record low turnout in Tuesday's election, just came in from the Associated Press:

Vermont's voter turnout appears to have hit a record low in the 2014 elections.

With 99 percent of precincts reporting, The Associated Press calculates that the final turnout figure will be about 193,500.

That's about 43.6 percent of the roughly 443,400 registered voters in the state.

That figure is eight-tenths of a percentage point below the previous low of 44.4 percent of voters who turned out in 1978.

In both that year and this year, there was no presidential race and no U.S. Senate contest in Vermont.

11:45 a.m. Nov. 5 Gov. Peter Shumlin appears to have declared a tentative victory in the gubernatorial race over Republican Scott Milne. In a statement from the Shumlin campaign, the governor said,"While I will await final counts and further statements from Scott Milne, it is clear we are ahead and I'm confident that I've received the most votes. Serving as governor has been the greatest privilege of my life and I will be proud to continue leading this great state."

Gov. Peter Shumlin is waiting for a formal concession from challenger Scott Milne, who has said he will not drop out of the race until all votes are reported.
Credit Angela Evancie / VPR/file

Shumlin is waiting for a formal concession from Milne, who has said he will not drop out of the race until all votes are reported. The Associated Press results still show two of the state's 275 voting precincts unreported, but Shumlin has a lead of 2,333 votes.

11:42 a.m. Nov. 5 Results from local ballot initiatives show that Middlesex voters approved a school addition and renovation bond, but a couple more expensive school projects were rejected in Hyde Park and Addison County. Find the results that VPR's Public Post has collected here.

10:35 a.m. Nov. 5 Republican Scott Milne refuses to back out of the race for governor until all voting results are in, he said in a release Wednesday morning.

“What is clear is that the majority of Vermonters do not agree with the path that we are on,” Milne said in the release, noting incumbent Gov. Peter Shumlin’s failure to get the majority of statewide votes.

As of Wednesday morning, Scott Milne, Gov. Peter Shumlin's Republican challenger, said he would not concede the race until all the votes had been counted.
Credit Sage Van Wing / VPR

“We are going to wait for the final numbers,” he wrote.

With no candidate capturing the majority, the governor’s race will be decided by the Vermont legislature in January. The legislature is highly unlikely to choose a candidate who has dropped out of the race, which is why Vermont’s political observers are waiting for word from Milne, who is down by 2,333 with 273 out of 275 precincts reporting.

12:04 a.m. Nov. 5: The Vermont legislature will vote to choose the state’s governor for the next two years after both Democratic Gov. Peter Shumlin and Republican challenger Scott Milne failed to capture a majority of the statewide vote Tuesday.

As election parties wound down at both the Republican and Democratic headquarters in Burlington Tuesday night, neither party’s candidate for governor was claiming victory.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, who was expected to win by a wide margin, had a slim margin – about 3,000 votes out of the more than 160,000 counted when he took the stage just before 11:30 Tuesday night.

Shumlin’s speech was optimistic, but he didn’t declare victory. Before leaving the stage, he said he was happy with the numbers and hoped to have “better news tomorrow.” His opponent, Republican Scott Milne, would not concede Tuesday night.

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch (left) will hold his seat, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (center) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (right), will lose chairmanships in the Senate now that Democrats are in the minority.
Credit Angela Evancie / VPR file

Vermont’s delegation to Washington suffered a loss that came from outside state lines. The balance of power in the U.S. Senate switched from Democrats to Republicans in Tuesday’s elections nationwide.

The change in majority in the Senate means Sen. Patrick Leahy will lose his chairmanship of the Senate Judicial Committee and Sen. Bernie Sanders will no longer serve as chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs committee.

Neither Sanders nor Leahy were on the ballot Tuesday, but Rep. Peter Welch faced challengers for the lone Vermont seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Welch handily defeated Republican challenger Mark Donka; as of 11:50 p.m. with 247 of 275 precincts reporting, Welch had 115,875 votes to Donka’s 55,498.

10:22 p.m.: The race for governor is too close to call at this point. Gov. Peter Shumlin is ahead with 70,603 votes to Republican Scott Milne's 66,933. In all other statewide races, incumbent candidates have won. This includes:

  • Lt. Gov. Phil Scott (R)
  • Secretary of State Jim Condos (D)
  • Attorney General Bill Sorrell (D)
  • Treasurer Beth Pearce (D)
  • Auditor Doug Hoffer (D/P)
  • U.S. Congressman Peter Welch (D)

One of three towns that consistently match statewide vote results for governor has reported. In Bethel, Shumlin won 302 to 300, according to the Associated Press.

8:44 p.m.: The Associated Press has called the lieutenant governor election for Republican Phil Scott:

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, the only statewide Republican office holder in Vermont, is going back to Montpelier for two more years.

Phil Scott will serve another term as Vermont's Lt. Governor.
Credit Sage Van Wing / VPR

Scott on Tuesday defeated Dean Corren, the Burlington Progressive who also won the Democratic party nomination.

The 56-year-old Scott was first elected in 2010. He's well known around the state for being a popular stock car driver.

At the Statehouse, Scott is described as low-key, easygoing and a broker of heated political debates.

Corren is a longtime member of the Progressive Party from Burlington, a former state representative and a renewable energy entrepreneur.

In his concession speech, Dean Corren, who challenged incumbent Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, thanked his supporters.
Credit Angela Evancie / VPR

By raising $17,500 in small donations, Corren qualified for up to $200,000 in public financing of his campaign, but it wasn't enough to defeat Scott.

8:20 p.m.: The Associated Press has called the race for U.S. Congress in favor of incumbent Democrat Peter Welch.

Congressman Peter Welch speaks at the Democratic Party's headquarters at the Hilton in Burlington on Tuesday evening.
Credit Angela Evancie / VPR/file

According to the unofficial results, Welch will serve a fifth term in Congress.   

Welch was running against Republican Mark Donka and a slate of four other candidates.

With the results available so far, Welch has well over 50 percent of the vote, with Donka in second place.

Scott Beck tallied votes Tuesday in St. Johnsbury.
Credit Charlotte Albright / VPR

7:40 p.m.: Republican Scott Beck was one of two victors in a four-way race for the Vermont House in Caledonia District 3. The race for the two available seats to represent the district was an interesting one; the other victor was convicted felon Janssen Willhoit. Republicans Willhoit and Beck both beat incumbent Democrats.

7 p.m.: Polls have closed across the state, and we'll be on the air from now until 8 p.m. as results come in. Tune in to hear live results, interviews with candidates, and updates from our reporters in the field.

Who did you vote for? What results are you looking for tonight? Email vermontedition@vpr.net or comment on the Vermont Edition Facebook page. You can also call 1-800-639-2211 until 8 p.m.

As always, follow along here at the live blog and follow our reporters on Twitter for more results throughout the evening.

Dean Corren's campaign sent out this text message to Vermonters on Tuesday morning.
Credit Taylor Dobbs / VPR

6:25 p.m.: Dean Corren's campaign for lieutenant governor sent out a text message blast to a number of Vermonters today urging them to vote and vote for Corren, but not all of the Vermonters who got the texts had signed up for such alerts. According to the FCC, the text marketing may have violated federal regulations.  

An FCC web page providing guidance on automated phone methods commonly called “robocalls” says that “Prerecorded voice and autodialed calls (including live calls, prerecorded voice messages, and text messages) may NOT be delivered to cell phones, pagers, or other mobile devices without the prior express consent of the called party.”

2:35 p.m.: Unfortunately for those who like to document their lives through selfies, you won't be able to share a snap of yourself and your ballot today. Not legally, anyway. According to state law in Vermont, New Hampshire and most other states, sharing a photo of a marked ballot is a crime. The laws have roots in an era that had more corrupt political players than SnapChat users, and some people think they're unconstitutional.

The recently updated New Hampshire law has riled the American Civil Liberties Union, which is challenging it in court. The law’s supporters argue that it curbs voter corruption and coercion. But banning the display of a photograph, opponents say, doesn’t attack those problems head-on. New Hampshire ACLU Staff Attorney Gilles Bissonnette says the law merely muzzles voters who want to express themselves about the votes they have cast.

“The correct response to corruption,” Bissonnette says, “is to criminalize and investigate it, not violate free speech.”

So if you must take an election day selfie, we won't judge, but just don't pose with your marked ballot.

1:25 p.m.: Across the state, low voter turnout has some people concerned. Josh White of Pittsford said the U.S. needs to set an example of democracy. 

"People are fighting and dying for their democratic right and I think it's kind of sad that voting has become such a chore in this country," he said. "It's kind of alarming."

Miles Witters, 4, of Richmond, helps his dad, Sean, submit a ballot at Camel's Hump Elementary School on Tuesday morning.
Credit Angela Evancie / VPR

In Montpelier, City Clerk John Odum said he isn't expecting turnout to be as good as it was in the 2012 election.

"I think two years ago we had about 4,600 voters here," he said. "And I'm going to go out on a limb and estimate we get about 3,000, 3,100 total, and that includes absentees," he said. 

Many experts say turnout will be low in Vermont this year because most statewide races are not hotly contested and there is no presidential election to bring voters out.

Voters picked up ballots at the Williston Armory on Tuesday afternoon.
Credit Angela Evancie / VPR

10:15 a.m.: Voters were turning out in Burlington's Old North End Tuesday morning. In the first two hours polls were open, more than 120 voters had cast ballots in the city's second ward.

Andrew Champagne, the elections inspector for Ward 2, said the turnout was far better than on primary day in August.

A man walked toward the Ward 2 polling place in Burlington's Old North End on Tuesday morning.
Credit Taylor Dobbs / VPR

"You can't even compare," he said. "Today, right from 7:00, there's been people here consistently."

One of those voters was Ellen Temple, who said she went to the polls because it was expected to be a low-turnout election.

"I think all of the hype about the low turnout made me want to come out and vote," she said. "And I usually do anyway, but I think it's really important."

Temple said she voted for Democrats down most of the ballot, including a vote for Progressive/Democratic fusion candidate Dean Corren. Corren is running for lieutenant governor against Republican Phil Scott, who is popular among the state's Democrats.

Temple said she wasn't voting against Phil Scott so much as for Corren.

"I don't think Phil Scott has done a bad job at all," she said. "And it was a bit of a hard decision. But listening to Dean I felt like I appreciated his stance on a couple of issues, primarily the environment, and that's why I decided to vote for him."

Original Post 9:47 a.m.

Here's what you can do to stay in the loop throughout the day and night:

1. Check out our comprehensive elections coverage here.

2. Follow @vprnet and our many reporters on Twitter as we post updates throughout the day.

3. Tune in to Vermont Edition at noon for a conversation about what groups are doing to get out the vote.

4. Bookmark our results page, which we'll be updating with the latest statewide and local results from the Associated Press every two minutes after the polls close this evening.

4. Tune back in at 7 p.m. for live VPR coverage, hosted by Jane Lindholm, and NPR coverage of the races that will determine which party will control the U.S. Senate.