Vermont Activists Urge Write-in Votes for Bernie Sanders

The Senator from Vermont will not appear on ballots, but some voters are pledging to support him nonetheless

Even though his name will not appear printed on ballots on Election Day, some voters are vowing to stick with former presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders as their candidate.

“I’m looking for someone who hasn’t changed their mind — who’s consistent,” said Pat Michelson, a Vermont voter who told necn she will write in Sanders on the ballot. “I’ve been voting since 1968, and this is the election that I made up my mind: I wasn’t going to take the lesser of two evils.”

Vermont, along with New Hampshire, allows voters to write in anyone they choose.

Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos said write-in votes will be counted and made official about a week after the election, when other results are certified.

Michelson has been working with the group Op Deny to encourage others to support Sanders in Vermont and in other states that allow write-ins.

Op Deny’s website says it wants only Sanders as president, arguing that would help break what it calls the “stranglehold of the two-party system.” The group takes its name from a goal to craft an operation that denies the major party candidates the election.

“We’re telling people you have a choice,” Michelson said, noting that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been struggling with low favorability ratings.

However, Sanders himself has urged supporters to back Clinton, his one-time rival for the Democrats’ nomination for the White House.

“I am asking you here today not only to vote for Secretary Clinton, but to work hard to get your uncles and your aunts; to get your friends to vote,” Sanders told a crowd at the University of New Hampshire on September 28, before he embraced Clinton onstage.

The Vermont Democratic Party is also warning against what some consider “protest votes.”

“Hillary Clinton is the candidate who will actually push for the agenda that Bernie Sanders fought for,” said Christina Amestoy of the Vermont Democratic Party. “Choosing not to vote for Hillary Clinton is choosing to either abstain or maybe even cast a vote for Donald Trump.”

Secretary of State Condos said he expects this year will be a busy one for write-ins.

“We’re cautioning the clerks and election officials on the local level that there may be more than usual this year,” Condos said of write-in votes.

Condos noted the results will not be known the night of Election Day, because of the extra labor required to count write-in votes. But he said they will be available shortly thereafter.

Condos reminded Vermonters that no matter who their pick is, they must be registered to vote by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, November 2.

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