Saturday, August 9, 2014

IS IT THE RIGHT OPTION????? ------ by Larry Fillmore

At the last Town Council meeting, under Other Business, the council debated making a change to the Charter, once again. This new Charter change is to restrict placing bonds valued over a million dollars to only on the November ballot. This would eliminate any bonds over a million dollars from being decided in June. The rationale behind this move is that more voters vote in November than do in June. This would ensure more voters have a say on million dollars bonds.

Although I understand the reason for this change, I do not agree with it. This is like putting a Band-Aid on a sucking chest wound. The right option is to do everything possible to increase the voter turnout in June before we start changing our Charter. If you remember in November 2011, the people voted to be able to vote on the Municipal budget and the council still have not changed the Charter to allow this. Instead, the council changed the number of voters required to petition for a special town meeting. Contrary to popular belief, this is not the same by a long shot. However, this Charter change took less than a month to get the language started and the council wants to add an emergency clause.

If the problem is low voter turnout in June, then the solution should be increase voter turnout to equal or come close to the voter turnout in November. So how do we increase voter turnout:

  1. Work with the heads of the Democratic, Republican and Independent parties to push for larger turnouts.
  2. Work to promote voter turnout in June. This does not mean push issues!
  3. Use notification avenues such as the School Department and Municipal listing for promote voter turnouts.

These are just a few that I came up with and I am sure more people have additional methods to increase voter turnout in June.

What has happened is there is so much information placed on the November ballot for November, voters are annoyed by the time they get to Charter changes and bond issues that they just check off block in order to finish be they are very busy. This is even more apparent in National and Gubernatorial elections.

What this means is that you do not get responsible responses to issues of critical importance to the community. This is no different than fewer voters showing up in June to vote on critical issues.

Remember, every voter in Lisbon knows when voting day is in June and November; they know where the voting polls are located and if they do not show up in June to vote then I guess they were not interested enough. So tell me again, why the voters that do show up in June are less important than the voters that show up in November.

Let’s look at this problem realistically and not rush into changing the Charter.

Larry Fillmore

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