Vermont Secretary of State Jim Condos announced Tuesday he will not seek reelection this fall, ending his 12-year term as the state’s top elections official.
The 71-year-old Democrat, a former South Burlington city councilor and state senator, said that after 35 years in public office, he was looking forward to retiring. Still, he did not rule out running for public office in the future.
“While I have enjoyed this job every day, I am looking forward to a new chapter next January at the conclusion of my current term,” Condos told reporters during a virtual press conference.
Condos said he has worked hard to ensure that his office was run in a nonpartisan manner, and he was proud that the state has been nationally recognized as a leader in elections, business registrations and records management.
“I am grateful to have been provided the opportunity to help protect, defend and enhance our democracy,” he said.
Paul Burns, executive director of the Vermont Public Interest Research Group, praised Condos’ tenure. “Jim Condos leaves a legacy of pro-democracy reform. He’s helped to make Vermont one of the most voter-friendly states in the nation,” Burns said in a written statement.
Under Condos, the office transitioned from largely paper-based systems to more accurate and efficient digital ones, he said. In cooperation with lawmakers and town clerks, the office has ensured “accessible, free, fair, election processes” while also making it easier for people to register and vote, including through universal mail-in balloting.
Despite these changes in Vermont, Condos said U.S. democracy is “in dire straits” partly because of the increased ability of people to spread misinformation over social media. This includes efforts to raise fears over voter fraud, the instances of which, he said, are “minuscule.” He noted there was one case of voter fraud in Vermont 2020 out of 375,000 votes cast.
Persistent elections misinformation is one of the reasons his office launched a “facts versus myths” feature on its website, he said.
“I really believe that we have to take steps to retake and reset the democratic principles that we have always operated under,” he said. One change he suggested was for Vermont to explore a nonpartisan legislative redistricting process. He noted that the effort currently underway involves a seven-member partisan board that makes recommendations on new legislative districts to a partisan legislature, which then decides where to draw the boundaries.
“It’s kind of convoluted right now,” he said. “I would like to see it get to the point where it really is a nonpartisan board.”
He singled out for praise Deputy Secretary Chris Winters, who has worked in the department for 25 years and whom Condos called “a tremendous asset and indispensable partner” in improving its operations. Condos acknowledged that Winters “is considering a run” for his seat, but he said his remarks were not an endorsement. “I will deal with that at the appropriate time,” he said.