Letter – SB2 vs. Traditional Town Meeting

My two-cents:

Frankly, this entire issue is quite simple….denying one the Right to Vote! If we continue to maintain the traditional form of town meeting and the taxpayer is not available to vote, that person loses the right to vote & becomes a Disenfranchised Voter.

However, under SB2, if the taxpayer knows he/she will be out of town during the election day, the individual may file an Absentee Ballot in advance of the election.

John Diefenbach

4 comments for “Letter – SB2 vs. Traditional Town Meeting

  1. sjrups
    March 5, 2011 at 21:58

    I can agree 100% with the comment above. Traditional town meeting may have worked great in days past when this was an agricultural communitiy and even so when the average household only had one bread winner working “9-5″. However, today most households have two breadwinners, children, busy schedules, etc. This does in fact leave a lot of voters who cannot participate. There is no “perfect” time to have a meeting that would fit all schedules. Therefore, SB2 seems to be the way to go. The one flaw with SB2 is the deliberative session, which if not attended by a majority of voters allows a small handful of voters to essentially “zero out” any funding for a warrant which essentially kills it for that year. However, the NH House is working on legislation that would stop that practice, and make the deliberative session unable to make such changes, so voters could vote on the actual article as petitioned. This change would be an excellent upgrade. Currently we see figures put out by “pro town meeting people” that particpation is higher in towns with town meetings than SB2. It is true that more people attend town meetings than SB2 deliberative sessions, but the facts are that more people actually VOTE in towns which have SB2. This in turn more acurately reflects the will of the people, rather than the will of a superminority who attend town meeting. Now, if all things being equal and a majority of voters could attend town meeting I would suggest that town meeting would be the better format. Unfortunately in todays society that is not the case.The other issue with town meeting is the open voting which does make some uncomfortable. If it is such a great practice why do we not walk into town hall on election day and shout out our votes for presidents, senators, and the like? We do not because it is our right to vote in private without fear of repercussions. Shouldn’t town policies, warrants and funding for special interest groups in town be based on the majority of voters in Mason rather than the small special interest groups that attend town meeting? I would have to say yes; so I would also have to say yes to SB2.

    Shane Robinson
    Canidate for Selectmen

  2. roodee4345
    March 6, 2011 at 12:20

    If you want to vote, you have to show up. The issue is the same for ANY election, town or presidential. We all make allowances for doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, this is just one more. And the most important.

    If folks do not show up for the “deliberative sessions” before voting for the issues, what kind of educated voters are actually making informed votes? We may have more folks voting, but it is most often a “blind” vote. You want that determining your future?

  3. March 8, 2011 at 11:58

    My $.05

    Perhaps we should wait until we see what these changes are that the state wants to make to the Deliberative Session. If changes like, zero-ing out a budgetary line item will be prevented, what else might they restrict us from doing in Deliberative Session? Will it make the Deliberative Session informational only? Will we lose all power to amend warrant articles?

    I hear some FEAR of the public vote at Traditional Town Meeting. Then call for a secret ballot vote. It only takes one request.

    Remember what happened when the Mascenic Regional School District changed from a Traditional School Board Meeting to SB2? The following year the controversial 50/50 funding was passed. SB2 resulted in a fine example of voting with the pocketbook and not with the conscious. Due to concern of increased taxes on Mason we began our withdrawal from that School District.

    So far, Traditional Town Meeting brings in more voters who provide more information and more opinions. The exchange of information at the Traditional Town Meeting is critical for understanding the full scope of a warrant article and its impact.

    Since there’s no vote taken at a Deliberative Session, and the state may be restricting the power and abilities of this Session, it’s less likely to draw residents who are reluctant to attend any town meeting in the first place.

    The most important change in voting in SB2 is that one can go to the polling place only, and without the benefit of hearing a lot of information on any particular warrant article. If the same folks that cannot attend the Saturday Traditional Town Meeting, can’t attend the Saturday Deliberative Session, they’re still likely to miss critical information regarding warrant articles. Is an increase in uninformed voters, who may indeed vote with their pocketbooks only, what one desires?

  4. JimBelanger
    July 6, 2011 at 08:23

    Interesting debate on Trof aditional v/s SB-2 Town Meetings. We have seen attendance at SB-2 Deliberative Session drop down to about 25% of that same community’s traditional meetings were. So, those 25% now decide on what the voters get to see on the ballot and vote on. Unless you attend the deliberative session, you have no say on what is presented before you to vote on and you can’t influence anyone to see your point of view. If you see a flaw, too bad, vote on what I decide you will see. So, when you agree to SB-2 AND you don’t attend, you lose your input and your opinion is only in your vote on what my opinion was. If 75% of the voters don’t attend the deliberative session, they are uninformed voters at the polls or they only know what others say to base an opinion on which way to vote. If only the attendance at Deliberative SB2 Sessions was equal to or greater than Traditional Town Meeting, I might be convinced that SB2 works, but; it actually goes the other way.

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