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Here's Where Vermont's Electors Stand On Intelligence Briefings Ahead Of Their Vote

Sergei Karpukhin
Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Nov. 9. More than 50 electors, including one from Vermont, have signed an open letter demanding intelligence briefings on foreign intervention in America's presidential election.

Members of Vermont's three-person Electoral College delegation have varying opinions on how to act on information that details Russian efforts to influence the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

Elector Martha Allen, the president of the Vermont Teachers Association, has signed a letter calling on this country's intelligence community to hold a detailed briefing with the 535 presidential electors to disclose everything they know about Russian activities that interfered with the recent presidential election.

More than 50 electors representing New Hampshire, Massachusetts, New York and California have also signed the letter, and the list is growing.

Allen says it could be critical information for the electors to have before they cast their ballots next Monday.

“It seems as though there could be some issues that come to light that have some serious bearing on the outcome,” Allen says.

And Allen says she would have no problem if enough electors supporting Donald Trump change their vote after being briefed and elect Hillary Clinton. But she says she’s more concerned with interference in the election process itself.

“If the process has been tarnished in one way or the other, I think that that should be examined,” she says.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, also a Vermont elector, told VPR on Tuesday he supports efforts to hold an intelligence briefing for all electors before next Monday's vote.

"It's up to all of us to figure out what they did, what they knew, and what impact they had," Shumlin said Tuesday. "Having said that, under Vermont law the electors are bound to vote for the highest vote-getter — and I will vote for Hillary Clinton — but I don't blame the folks from New Hampshire and other states that want an explanation before they vote. I don't feel I need one."

Shumlin’s office has not responded to follow-up questions about whether Shumlin intends to add his name to the letter.

Vermont’s third elector, Essex Rep. Tim Jerman, a Democrat, thinks it's important for there to be a full-scale bipartisan Congressional investigation into Russian activities. But he says he doesn't feel it's an issue for electors to consider.

“We all need to know that, but I don't feel a need as an elector to know that,” Jerman says, adding that he thinks a decision to overturn the results of the election would be a big mistake.

“Whether we like it or not, Trump won the Electoral College,” he says. “So to throw that into question at this point, I think, is probably not a good thing for the country."

Vermont’s electors will gather on Monday, Dec. 19 to cast their votes.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
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