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Politics

Condos Steers VT to Popular Vote Presidency

When we last interviewed Jim Condos, he had just been elected Secretary of State of Vermont (“Vermont Gets A Greek American Secretary of State,” Dec. 18, 2010). It may only be a two-year term (he has since won reelection), but people tend to stay in the job for a long time, Condos had told TNH. I’ll be 60 next month in January (that was three and a half years ago), right around retirement age, so this [position] may be it for me.”

The Secretary of State “is responsible for: Corporations, Professional Regulation, State Archive & Record Management, as well as Elections,” Condos said. “We have been slowly reviewing, installing, and enacting new IT solutions for each of the divisions. We have completed Professional Regulation, almost completed Corporations, completed the overall Agency website, and have just embarked on an installation of a new Elections Management system. Our goal is to provide excellent customer service with a knowledgeable, productive and efficient workforce.”

LIBERAL-LEANING STATE

When sizing up blue (Democratic/liberal) and red (Republican/conservative) states, many Americans perceive Vermont as being ultraliberal – about as blue as they come. Not quite, Condos says. Vermont is “a blue state leaning liberal,” he says, as opposed to purely liberal, and “Vermonters tend to be practical, independent, and caring about their fellow citizens.”

Moreover, as Americans are becoming more and more disenchanted by Democratic and Republican political dominance, Condos explains that Vermont has not just two major parties, but four. There are the Democrats and Republicans, of course, but also the Progressive, and Liberty Union Parties. That’s double the national average, and gaining major party status in Vermont is not particularly cumbersome.

Besides its progressive politics, Vermont has made national news over the past few months because of reports about a rampant drug problem. As that issue does not fall within his scope as Secretary of State, Condos did not address it specifically, but he did tell TNH that “all states have this problem, Vermont has chosen to meet it head on.”

ELECTORAL REFORM

Condos says his main priorities regarding the political process is to increase voter participation and to maintain the integrity of the elections. As a Vermont State Senator, Condos helped support legislation (that ultimately passed in 2011; he was already Secretary of State by that point) for Vermont to join the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC), a measure that once approved states holding a majority of electoral votes would guarantee a candidate for president of the United States will win the election only if he/she actually wins the most votes nationwide.

As it stands, the United States elects a president via the Electoral College, comprised of Electors from each state (the number of which depends on their total number of House Members and Senators), and three from the District of Columbia. Although it is very rare (it last happened in 2000 and before that, 1876), it is possible for a presidential candidate to gain the most votes nationwide, but lose the election because of not having gained the most electoral votes. The process ensures that votes in very state matter, Condos says, not just the ones in battleground states. To this point, Condos explains, 11 jurisdictions representing 61% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it have joined the Compact. Once enough states to ensure 270 electoral votes have been approved, it will ensure that the aberrations most recently experienced in 2000 and 1876, albeit rare, will not occur again. Under the Constitution, states may cast their electoral votes based on criteria they see fit – and so the NPVIC does not need an Amendment to the Constitution to take effect.

A PROUD GREEK

“Both of my parents are first-generation Greek-Americans,” Condos said. “I have only been to Greece once, in the mid-1980s, but I would like to go back. I am proud of Greek heritage and was honored to have been invited by President Obama and to have attended the White House Greek Independence Day celebration over the past few years. Joining with other Greek-American leaders was a great experience.”

And what about his political future? “I will be up for election for my third term in November,” Condos says, indicating no plans to retire in the immediate future.

 

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