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After A Messy Campaign, Some Vermonters Are Voting Reluctantly, Or Not At All

Howard Weiss-Tisman
Ashley Davis, right and her friend Savannah Pellerin register to vote in the Springfield town clerk office.

The number of registered voters in Vermont might be at a record high, but on Election Day, it will still come down to who shows up to vote.And after such a bruising national campaign, there's bound to be some voters who choose to stay away this year.

Chris Hall is 26 and he's not voting.

Hall lives in Springfield, and he says he's been turned off by the national presidential campaign.

"I mean, we have Hillary [Clinton]'s email, and [Donald] Trump going off the handle on certain things and just saying what he feels at the moment," Hall says. "I don't really feel that either one is a great candidate, to be honest."

Vermont's coming off a near record-low turnout in the 2014 midterm election, with about 45 percent of the registered voters casting a ballot.

There was no U.S. Senate race that year, and Vermont's low turnout was in line with the rest of the country, where only 36 percent voted.

Traditionally, Vermont is right in the middle of the pack when it comes to national turnout numbers.

It's Time To Vote, Vermont. Here's Your Last-Minute Guide

During the last presidential election in 2012, about 61 percent of the registered voters in Vermont took part; that was right in the middle of the national ranking.

During the last election, voters said they were turned off by the negative tone, and it's only a guess what might happen after this year's campaign between Clinton and Trump.

Barbara Courchesne is Springfield's town clerk, and she says her office has been busy with voter registration and early voting.

But she says some of the people are telling her it's been a tough election.

"People come in and sometimes [say that] they want to get this over with. That seems to be the most popular comment." - Barbara Courchesne, Springfield town clerk

"People come in and sometimes make comments [that] they want to get this over with, that seems to be the most popular comment," Courchesne says. "There's been some dissatisfaction of the amount of controversy. But we try not to talk about it here. It's the process we need to focus on."

Ashley Davis, 23, came out to Courchesne's office to register for her first presidential election.

It's been ugly, Davis says, and she's not happy with the candidates the Republicans and Democrats presented to her for her first election.

She even thought about passing it up.

"Look what we're going through with Trump and Clinton right now," says Davis. "It's a mess. Like, I'm nervous as hell. I'm scared — really scared of them two."

But she registered to vote, because she says there is an alternative to the major-party candidates.

"I'm definitely writing in Bernie Sanders, 100 percent," Davis says. "He is the only one that actually cares about America. And if everyone's smart, they'll write in Bernie."

This has been a presidential election like none other. Both here in Vermont, where we had a candidate get close to the White House. And nationally, with a reality TV star going up against a former first lady.

We'll just have to wait to see how many Vermonters decide to take part.

Howard Weiss-Tisman is Vermont Public’s southern Vermont reporter, but sometimes the story takes him to other parts of the state. 
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