Let All Voters Have Their Say
As the discussions regarding the school department's debt exclusion and override Articles come to the forefront at Town Meeting, I think it is important to remind and reiterate what many others have: A Yes vote for these Articles does not necessarily mean you support their ultimate passage. All it means is that you wish to move them forward to be put on the ballot in order to appear before a much larger electorate.
As the Finance Committee put it in their report regarding some of these Articles (using Article 26 as an example): "The Finance Committee recommends Favorable Action on this Article in order that the proposed Proposition 2 1/2 override may be submitted to the total electorate of the Town for their decision"
I am reminded about a prior Town Meeting where many changes to the Town's charter were deliberated (Fall 2010). At that time many of the shortcomings of Town Meeting were discussed. It was painfully pointed out how difficult it is for folks to attend who may work nights, have young children, are single parents, or who are elderly to name a few. For my own part, I got to the microphone at the time and noted how Town Meeting unfairly discriminates against our servicemen and women who may be stationed elsewhere domestically and around the globe.
The bottom line: All of these folks are disenfranchised by our current form of Town Meeting.
One answer to address these issues was Article 37 at the time. It would have allowed controversial Articles to appear on the ballot. In that way, then people would have all day to show up for a few minutes to vote rather than attend marathon Town Meetings night after night that go to 10pm and beyond. Even our servicemen and women could vote via absentee ballot.
Alas, that Article did not pass. I do not wish to re-hash the details of that vote, but I do wish to commend some of my newer friends in Town for now seeing the value of putting some articles on the town ballot for all to have their say. That's progress.
And at this time I also want to remind some of my old friends of the value that this approach brings as well.
To that end, here are some salient quotes from some folks at the time of the Charter Review discussion at Town Meeting. These are excerpted directly from The Wareham Observer website.
Thank you for your time.
In case it wasn't clear, the views I am expressing here are my own and I am not representing any board, committee, or any other group that I may be a member of.
Selectmen debate Charter Review Committee articles
By: Robert Slager
Posted: Saturday, October 2, 2010 5:49 pm
Selectman Brenda Eckstrom said the article would increase voter participation, especially because many residents cannot attend Town Meeting because of work and family commitments.
“It’s only fair to try to reach out to all the people and to give everyone an opportunity to have their say,” she said.
Eckstrom also noted that the current location of Town Meeting – The Wareham High School auditorium – is only equipped for 400 voters. She wondered what would happen if far more people turned out than that.
Posted November 10, 2010
“We should be encouraging as many voices as possible on the most important issues.” – Michael Schneider, in support of placing certain warrant articles on a town-wide ballot.
By: 4dognite on 10/2/10
...tell me why you would want to prevent any article from the ballot box? Preservation of democracy? Are you saying that sitting next to someone and holding up a card for all the world to see (opponents, customers, neighbors: some vindictive) and photographed [SNIP] is more democratic then enjoying the privacy of a ballot box? Really?
By: cranberry on 10/3/10
Rob, At least when an item is on the ballot, those who are away from home on election day, can still vote absentee. The drawn-out nature of the TM seems to preclude participation from Seniors due to lack of transportation and again to the length of the meeting itself.
By: downtheroad (Andrea Smith) on 10/5/10
Every precinct deserves equal representation. As for putting Article's on a town wide ballot, that's long overdue. No one should have someone staring over their shoulder when they vote, nor should they have the threat of a camera being thrust in their face when they vote.
The birth of the charter change battle
By: In This Corner - Robert Slager
Posted: Tuesday, October 5, 2010 9:43 am
There's another article that asks that controversial Town-Meeting articles be placed on a town-wide ballot. Shouldn't Wareham strive to give all residents a voice? Many senior citizens can't sit through six nights of Town Meeting but they can spent a few minutes casting a vote in a polling booth.