Republican candidate enters Secretary of State race

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(Host) A Republican candidate has entered the race for Secretary of State.

Essex Town Clerk Cheryl Moomey is a political newcomer. She says incumbent Deb Markowitz has pursued policies that will harm Vermont’s election system.

Moomey criticized Markowitz’s work on same day voter registration and a statewide voter checklist. VPR’s John Dillon reports.

(Dillon) Moomey has been town clerk and treasurer in Essex for the past five years. She’s never run for political office and she’s challenging four-term incumbent Deb Markowitz.

Moomey said in her announcement speech that Markowitz as overlooked the concerns of local election officials with her support of same-day voter registration.

(Moomey) “This past legislative session a very poorly constructed bill instituting same day voter registration was nearly passed with the active support of the current Secretary of State, despite the pleas of numerous town clerks, who recognized both the administrative challenges presented by such a change as well as the havoc and ill-considered bill could wreak on the integrity of Vermont elections.”

(Dillon) Moomey said Markowitz has supported pet partisan causes including same-day registration and instant run-off voting.

(Moomey) “There’s a lot of PR that she’s doing and I believe that she’s using this as advancement for another office, a higher office. And I’m not. I’m not a political person. I want to work for Vermonters and for the clerks.”

(Dillon) Markowitz says she consulted with clerks on the same day voter registration issue.

(Markowitz) “My response really is that she’s mistaken. Clerks have very strong and diverse opinions about whether Election Day registration would make sense for Vermont. And the idea of proposing the legislation came from the town clerk’s committee that advises my office.”

(Dillon) Markowitz has been in office eight years and in the last election she received both the Democratic and Republican nomination. She says she appreciates the competition this time because it gives her a chance to meet voters and talk about issues.

(Markowitz) “Whenever I go around the state I got compliments about the service that my office provides. So I would say my greatest accomplishment is building a team of staff that really understands that their job is to serve the public and will cheerfully and helpfully answer calls and help solve problems for Vermonters.”

(Dillon) But Moomey says Markowitz’s office has not done a good job with a statewide voter checklist. She said the list was supposed to be completed in January but still has problems.

In response, Markowitz says she’s proud of her work on the checklist. She says Vermont is one of the few states that have met the federal deadlines on the project.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m John Dillon in Montpelier.

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