Vermont 2022 primary election: A voter's guide
Vermont's primary election is Tuesday, Aug. 9.
Why should you care? How do you vote? Wanting to brush up on candidates? We're here to help you out.
Why this election matters
So, it's not a presidential election year, but this midterm election DOES matter, because of its impact on national politics.
Vermont's senior U.S. senator, Patrick Leahy, is retiring after 48 years in office. And since Vermont's only House member, Rep. Peter Welch, is running for Leahy's seat, Vermont has an open spot in the U.S. House of Representatives for the first time in 16 years.
With all this turnover, voters have the chance to possibly send a woman to Congress for the first time in Vermont’s history. (We're the last state in the country to do so — womp womp.)
There are a bunch of other statewide races up for election: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state.
The Republican ballot is something of a referendum on the future of the Vermont GOP. Some candidates running this year are pretty much aligned with Gov. Phil Scott, who is a moderate and disagrees with the direction his party is going nationally. But others think former president Donald Trump is the leader of the GOP, and want to see the state go more in that direction.
As for why this primary election — versus the general election in November — is kind of a big deal, that's because the winners in contested Democratic primaries are likely to win the general election. That's according to Middlebury College political science professor Matt Dickinson.
"Well, nobody wants to prejudge a general election," he said. "And obviously, the voters ultimately decide. But you would have to be naïve not to know that in, for instance, Vermont — a predominantly blue state — that the nominee coming out of certain races, the Democratic nominee, is the odds-on favorite to win the general election. So really, where the competition is, where the key choice made by voters is, is the primary as opposed to the general election."
Intrigued? Read on!
How to vote
If you need to register to vote, you can do so online, by mail and in person at your city or town clerk's office. You can register on Election Day or before. Learn more here.
Early voting began on June 25, and you can request an absentee ballot until 5 p.m. — or a different closing time of the town or city clerk's office — on the last day before the election that the clerk has regular hours.
You can drop off your absentee ballot at your clerk's office until closing time on Monday Aug. 8. You can also bring it to the polls on Tuesday, Aug. 9.
And if you don't want to vote early, you can do it the old-fashioned way, and head to the voting booth on Aug. 9.
Don't know where your polling place is? Find out here.
Speak a language other than English? The Vermont Secretary of State provides the multilingual videos below:
Below you'll find political debates Vermont Public hosted earlier this summer, plus links to major party candidates' websites.
- State Senate President Pro Tem Becca Balint
- Lt. Gov. Molly Gray
- Dr. Louis Meyers
- Sianay Chase Clifford [dropped out July 19]
Looking for candidates' stances on a particular issue? Here are timestamps:
- 2:10 - How do you decrease dependence on fossil fuels in a way that’s affordable to all Americans?
- 10:50 - Given the repeal of Roe v. Wade, others feel other U.S. Supreme Court precedents, like marriage equality, could be at risk. How would you protect those precedents? And do you support reforming the court?
- 12:10 - Codifying abortion access recently passed the House but failed in the Senate. If elected to Congress, would you, on principle, support a bill likely to fail, or would you support a compromise? If so, what would you be willing to compromise on?
- 16:10 - How would you modify the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process?
- 19:00 - What is the most pressing foreign policy challenge facing the U.S. today, and how would you address it?
- 27:05 - America has a long history of racism. How can the federal government protect Black lives, and which national policies would you support to foster racial equality in the U.S.?
- 36:40 - Some Vermonters practice responsible gun ownership, while others want to see a gun-free society. Where do you fall on the spectrum, and how will your experiences as a Vermonter impact your ability to convince your colleagues of your vision?
- 55:55 - Will you pledge to join Sen. Sanders to reduce the military budget, and will you call to halt F-35 training flights in Vermont?
- 1:01:15 - Millions of older Americans rely on Medicare for health insurance. How would you address concerns of the privatization of the Medicare system?
- 1:07:30 - What is the most difficult vote you’ve ever had to cast, and why? And if you haven’t had to cast a vote, what is the most difficult decision you’ve had to make in your career, and why?
- 1:13:00 - It’s predicted Vermont won’t suffer as much as other places due to climate change, so we’ll likely see increasing numbers of climate refugees. How do we accept climate refugees without making Vermont less affordable?
Looking for candidates' stances on a particular issue? Here are timestamps:
- 2:02 - You are seeking one of the highest political offices in Vermont, but none of you has held elected office before. Please describe how your work experience has prepared you to advocate for Vermonters in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- 8:16 - Many Americans are struggling financially, as prices for food, fuel, and other necessities keep rising. What is one immediate action you would take in Congress to help address rising costs?
- 14:51 - Mass shootings across the country have left Americans terrified, grieving and calling for change. Vermont passed a slate of gun control laws four years ago. They included raising the legal age to buy a gun to 21 and banning bump stocks, which allow semiautomatic rifles to fire faster. According to polling, more than two-thirds of Vermonters supported those new laws. Would you support any similar gun control laws at the federal level? If not, why not?
- 21:54 - At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, about 11 million women left the workforce. Many of them had to stay home to care for their children. This exodus drew the country’s attention to how broken our child care system is. Now, Democrats have suggest federal subsidies would make child care more affordable. Is that the right approach? If not, what is?
- 27:34 - Abortion is an issue that has created a major divide among Americans, particularly since a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion revealed the Court could soon repeal Roe v. Wade. What is your stance on abortion? And would you support federal legislation that protects or bans the right to an abortion?
- 44:46 - What specific legislation do you believe is needed to combat and mitigate climate change? And I’d like to know, do you think the federal government should take steps to discourage fossil fuel use through taxation?
- 47:27 - What specifically will you do to address the polarization of Congress?
Secretary of state
- Bradford Rep. Sarah Copeland Hanzas
- Montpelier City Clerk John Odum
- Deputy Secretary of State Chris Winters
Other things to know
- Why has Vermont never sent a woman to Congress?
- A Republican primary for lieutenant governor reveals a broader divide in Vermont GOP
- The evolution of early voting in Vermont
- Two Democrats tout leadership experience in bid to become Vermont's next attorney general
You can find continuing coverage of Vermont's primary election by bookmarking our Election 2022 page.
Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message.