Douglas vetoes two election bills

Bob Kinzel // Published April 4, 2008 in Vermont Public Radio
(Host) Governor Jim Douglas has vetoed two election related bills.

The first bill deals with campaign finance reform, and the second implements instant runoff voting in Vermont's congressional races.

Senate president Peter Shumlin says he's very disappointed by Douglas's action.

VPRs Bob Kinzel reports:

(Kinzel) The governor's vetoes were not a surprise - Douglas has repeatedly opposed both bills.

Douglas says he vetoed the campaign finance reform bill primarily because the legislation places limits on contributions from political parties to individual candidates. The new limit would be thirty thousand dollars.

At a recent press conference, Douglas said this kind of restriction is unfair:

(Douglas) "Political parties are organized for the sole purpose of supporting their candidates and getting them elected I really don't see why there should be any restriction on their participation."

Douglas also vetoed a bill that implements instant run off voting in Vermont's U.S. Senate and U.S. House races.

The governor says he doesn't like the legislation because it sets up a hypothetical race and he thinks it's fine if a winning candidate doesn't receive at least 50% of the vote:

(Douglas) "It's a hypothetical election it's not one person one vote as I see it I really believe it's not the kind of change in our electoral system that would be in the state's best interest."

Both bills now go back to the Senate for an override vote and Senate president Peter Shumlin says the prospects for an override are good.

Shumlin says he's disappointed by Douglas's veto of the campaign finance reform bill:

(Shumlin) "I think there's no question that we can override the votes in the Senate the bottom line is that this governor welcomes corporate money big money influencing Vermont campaigns and we want to get that money out and I think the vast majority of senators agree that Vermonters don't want money buying influence in Vermont."

And Shumlin says the governor's opposition to instant run off voting is politically motivated:

(Shumlin) "A lot of folks in Vermont vote independent they don't vote by party and that should be welcomed what IRV does is promote a more thoughtful issue oriented campaign because everyone is vying for the second vote so it becomes less about criticizing opponents and more about what ideas are concerning the issues and that's good for Vermont's democracy."

While the prospects for a veto override of these bills may be good in the Senate, the outlook in the House is uncertain.

The vote on the campaign finance reform bill is expected to be very close but it appears unlikely that there will be enough support to override the governor's veto of the IRV bill.

For VPR News, I'm Bob Kinzel in Montpelier.