To the Editor:
As some of your readers may recall, I have been a supporter of the referendum vote in Waldoboro through its various ups and downs over the past couple of years. I have supported it because I believe strongly that a critical pillar of good government is voter participation and that whatever the virtues of the town meeting format are (and they are many), they do not include participation by a significant majority of voters in a community the size of ours.
Under the town meeting format, we have recently seen many important issues approved by tiny minorities of registered voters. Most of these issues affect us all and many certainly impact our taxes. Beyond that, we have seen a pervasive sense that the town meeting format simply “is not working” in a community as large and complex as ours. This in spite of the fact that our town government seems to have taken itself in hand and now seems to be working much better than in years past.
We will have another chance to remedy this situation in the upcoming election. Thanks to the dedicated and thoughtful service of a number of our most public-spirited citizens, the referendum vote is back on the ballot.
It has been the intent of these folks who have brought it back that the proposed referendum system will remedy some of the deficiencies of the past and, in particular, will not lead to the hugely long and complex ballots that we have seen in past referendum votes.
The new system up for approval will also preserve several of the most important benefits of the town meeting format – namely, it will provide for public meetings which concerned citizens can attend to discuss and recommend amendments to proposed warrants and initiatives. At the same time, it will preserve the important benefit of the referendum format in offering a vote on important issues to all our registered voters irrespective of age, health, work status etc.
The absentee ballot will still be available and its use will be encouraged for all who find it difficult to attend the polling place, for whatever reason, on Election Day. Since many of our voters are elderly, have multiple jobs or are otherwise stressed out by time, this is a most important factor.
I believe that approval of this new and revised referendum voting system will lead to even more rapid improvements in the quality of government than we have seen over the past months. I believe also that its passage will address the cynicism and the feeling of “hopelessness of being left out of the system” that many of our friends and neighbors presently feel.
I urge Waldoboro voters to approve the referendum vote in the upcoming election. Go for it, Waldoboro! It’s our town!
To the Editor: