Next week begins the final round of town meetings in Lincoln County this year.
Damariscotta, Dresden, Newcastle, Somerville, Waldoboro, Westport Island, and Wiscasset will all hold their annual town meetings between now and the end of June.
The town of Damariscotta has placed an advertisement in this edition inviting residents to attend town meeting. More than your standard legal notice, the ad mourns the dismal turnout in recent years and even promises refreshments to entice voters to the school.
The ad places average attendance at town meetings for the last 10-plus years at 50. We can vouch for this figure, since we attend every one. That’s less than 3 percent turnout! Pathetic!
We know spring is finally here (a few days before summer) and an evening on the deck with a cold beverage might seem a lot more inviting than going to town meeting to sit in a metal chair for two hours or so and vote on the town budget and a few other matters.
It might not be what most would call exciting, though there are those of us who enjoy it.
But even if you and your fellow residents pass every item without so much as a peep of dissent, your participation has value.
Waldoboro and Wiscasset have less of a problem with turnout – because voters no longer gather with their neighbors to debate the issues and come to consensus. They vote by secret ballot instead. More votes, less community. More participation, less tradition. Is it coincidence that there seems to be more public discord in these towns than those with traditional town meetings?
Is this what Damariscotta voters want? Are you really so busy you can’t give up one night a year?
We urge voters in Damariscotta and all the other towns above to vote.
And as one of our favorite sayings goes: Don’t vote? Don’t complain!