Despite my long-obvious obsession with the vagaries of the U.S. “system” of politics and elections, I hadn’t come across this one before: In Vermont, if nobody wins a majority of the popular vote for governor, the Legislature chooses the governor with each member of the state House and Senate casting one vote.
Last year, the Democratic incumbent Peter Shumlin was expected to cruise to an easy reelection but in fact he barely edged Republican nominee Scott Milne, 46.4 to 45.1 percent. So, under that quirky provision, which goes way back in Vermont history and has happened 24 times before, the Legislature had to choose between the top two finishers today.
Here’s another weird thing: The vote of the legislators is a secret ballot. And some Democrats apparently voted for the Republican. But Shumlin won comfortably by a vote of 110-69.