VICTORY, Vt. — A well known attorney in Vermont has asked a court to cancel Victory’s April 5 Selectboard run-off election, claiming the town’s voter checklist contains unqualified voters and non-residents, 11 of whom allegedly cast absentee ballots on Town Meeting Day.
In a complaint and mandamus petition filed March 21 with the Essex County Superior Court, attorney Deborah Bucknam requested the court to issue a temporary restraining order to stop the upcoming election between Lionel Easter and Otis McKennistry, who deadlocked in a tie on March 7.
Bucknam, representing Tracey Martel, the plaintiff, claims the defendants engaged in “massive voter fraud” by placing non-residents on the checklist.
“Numerous non-residents who are political allies of the individual defendants have been placed on the voter checklist, and voted by absentee ballot in the March 7, 2017 election,” the complaint states.
The defendants also are alleged to have blocked attempts by members of the Board of Civil Authority to purge illegal voters off the list.
Martel ran unsuccessfully for the town clerk-treasurer positions on Town Meeting Day, losing both races to Carol Easter by fewer than four votes. Carol Easter, the sitting clerk-treasurer, along with husband Lionel Easter, the Selectboard candidate, are two of 18 defendants named in the case.
While some defendants accused of committing voter fraud hail from Victory, others live in Granby, Connecticut; Salem, Connecticut; St. Johnsbury, Vermont; Montpelier, Vermont; and Burlington, Vermont.
By Bucknam’s and Martel’s accounting, Victory has 84 registered voters on the checklist. Of that number, 76 votes were cast on Town Meeting Day — 41 by absentee ballot and 35 in person. However, Victory has only 63 residents, according to the 2010 Census, meaning the numbers don’t seem to add up.
“Authority to purge the checklist of non-residents have been rebuffed by the Defendants. The result has been that the population of the Town of Victory has supposedly increased by 50% since the last decennial census,” the complaint states.
In the complaint, Victory Assistant Town Clerk Ferne Loomis is quoted having said that “only 63 people (live) in town.”
The complaint also alleges that Carol Easter committed multiple violations of election statutes ahead of the March 7 election. The violations include “failing to provide absentee ballots in a timely manner to voters who oppose Defendants, hand delivering an absentee ballot alone to a voter, and interfering with one voter.”
The complaint also alleges that Carol Easter “has refused to send out absentee ballots to some voters” for the run-off election, and also “failed to mail out absentee ballots … to voters who participated in the March 7, 2017 election.”
Municipal defendants identified in the complaint include Victory and the Victory Board of Civil Authority.
Individual defendants include Carol Easter (town clerk and BCA member), Dawn Peters (BCA chair), Jan Stanley (BCA member), Lionel Easter (BCA member), Wayne Moodie and Krystal Gray (St. Johnsbury residents), Robert Flanigan, Jr., Robert Flanigan III and Brendan Flanigan (Granby, Connecticut, residents), Laury Saligman and John McGill (Montpelier residents), Isaiah Preston (Burlington resident), Angelo Spera (Salem, Connecticut, resident), and Andrea Poginy (St. Johnsbury resident).
Bucknam was scheduled to appear before a judge Tuesday at Vermont Superior Court, Essex Unit-Civil Division, in Guildhall.
Lou Varricchio is Vermont bureau chief for Vermont Watchdog.org. You can reach him at [email protected]