2017-10-12 / Letters to the Editor

All-day referendum needed for budgets

To the editor:

As a registered voter and member of the most recent town charter review committee, I attended the Oct. 2 town council meeting.

There appears to be confusion as to the purpose of an all-day referendum. The purpose is, and always has been, to provide a privacy ballot for each registered voter to vote on the town, school and combined budgets. The purpose of the referendum was never to eliminate the financial town meeting which is a requirement of state statutes.

Town budgets are the only ones in which a voter can participate and voters should be given the best democratic process for participation.

When Fritz Attaway argued in favor of expanding participation in the town budget approval process, he used the word “oligarchy,” which one council member found offensive. This was after the town moderator stated the average town meeting turnout was around 180 people. If that is true, and the town has more than 4,000 eligible voters, approximately only 4.5 percent of the voters attend the financial town meeting so only 91 votes are needed to determine the fate of the $23.7 million budget.

The dictionary defines oligarchy as a form of government that places power in the hands of a few. It looks to me that the term accurately describes the current financial town meeting process. Having a privacy ballot at an all-day referendum will give more voters the best opportunity to vote on their local budget(s). This is the best democratic process to follow.

Mary Lou Sanborn
Bay View Drive

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