To The Daily Sun,
The 2008 town warrant listed Article 12, by petition. Is asks, shall we adopt the provisions of RSA 40:13 (known as SB-2)? Passage requires a three-fifths majority. The vote was very close but failed to achieve the 3/5 majority.
Yes 362 No 263 Votes needed to achieve three-fifths majority 375 — just 14 votes short.
To quote former selectmen Bruce Van Derven (2007 executive summary report). "The core problem that has confronted the Selectboard for decades is "voter turnout."
Election Day and Town Meeting are the two days when the taxpaying residents have the ultimate power of deciding what we do over the coming years. Unfortunately, too many voters have passed up voting, and an even greater number have decided against having their say at Town Meeting.
The following year, 2008 petition warrant Article 30, proposed moving Town Meeting to Saturday. The hope was that by moving town meeting to Saturday it would help increase voter turnout. The motion passed, but the expected increase in turnout did not materialize.
So here we are 10 years later and Town Meeting attendance is averaging about 130 voters, including elected officials (about 6 percent of the 2,200 registered voters).
The problem with town meeting, the purest form of democracy?
• Low turnout with just a majority of 130 voters on average at town meeting making multimillion-dollar decisions.
• Warrant articles tabled or passed over so NO vote taken.
• Lots of time-consuming secret ballots.
SB-2 addresses these concerns, but preserves the tradition of Town Meeting by having a deliberative sessions.
• Session 1 — a public meeting to discuss and amend the proposed warrant,
• Session 2 — to vote on the warrant at the polls.
The average voter turnout on Election Day is about 600 voters. If SB-2 is adopted this will equate to approximately 30 percent of 2,200 registered voters taking part in the process. Whatever way you vote when the majority speaks that is the right answer.
Don't forget to vote on Tuesday, March 14, at the Old Town Hall and please attend Town Meeting at the Newfound Regional High School on Saturday, March 18.