2020 election doubters scour ballots in Vt. towns

Published: Sep. 22, 2022 at 5:45 PM EDT
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BENNINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A handful of residents across Vermont have been requesting and inspecting ballots as part of an unofficial recount of the 2020 election. It’s part of what state election officials say is a nationwide mobilization of Donald Trump supporters who question the results of the 2020 election.

On a soggy Thursday, Colleen Harrington was busy at the Bennington town clerk’s office photographing and counting some 7,100 ballots from an election certified a long time ago. “I am going through things. I’m going to set up a spreadsheet to verify results is all -- not really looking to accomplish anything,” Harrington explained.

The mailed ballots are from the 2020 election, where Joe Biden captured 66% of Vermont’s vote and 61% of the local vote in Bennington. Nearly two years after the race was called, Harrington recently filed a public records request to inspect the ballots in her hometown. “No one’s told me anything. It’s just been a lot of research on my own,” Harrington said.

The election ballots are kept in the basement of the Bennington town clerk’s office in black bags secured with green tags. In accordance with federal law, Town Clerk Cassie Barbeau holds onto them for 22 months and then destroys them in a secure shredder.

“Everything has to be kept track of. The date we processed it, the initials of the board of civil authority members that handled it through the machine,” Barbeau explained.

She is one of three Vermont town clerks who received requests from voters to inspect ballots -- along with Montpelier and Fairlee. But statewide there have been dozens of other requests for other election documents. Top election officials say the requests are part of a nationwide mobilization of people who question the results of the 2020 election, including former President Trump and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell.

“To basically gum up the works, not allow us to move forward with our preparations for the general election. We will get through this, we will hold an election, and that election will be certified,” said Vt. Secretary of State Jim Condos.

Repeated audits have shown there was no widespread fraud in the 2020 election.

Reporter Calvin Cutler: You know that even if you did find any irregularities, this isn’t an official recount. It wouldn’t change anything.

Colleen Harrington: I know that.

Reporter Calvin Cutler: Then why do this?

Colleen Harrington: Because I want to know in my own mind that the system is sound.

Barbeau says Harrington is well within her right to inspect the ballots because they’re public records. She says her office is open and honest about the electoral process. “I hope that people appreciate what we do and trust what we do, and that’s the whole reason why I’m talking to you today,” Barbeau said.