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‘What happened to the democratic principle?’

By Bob Holden

It is to be expected that the people attending Town Meeting do not want those who have to work or have other commitments and are not able to attend Town Meeting to be able to vote. Thus, the rich who do not work, or the retired, or the people without jobs get to make all the decisions. Forget about those who need to work to pay their bills and who are probably the ones paying the bulk of the taxes being approved or rejected.

What happened to the democratic principle that everyone should have the right to vote? How does that work for those who must be employed during the Town Meeting, which can take the better part of the day ... with some issues needing to be decided but being of an immaterial amount of money? In Moretown we all have a right to decide about the big money issues that we all pay for. As an accountant who works seven days a week this time of year, I have little enough time to spend at home. I cannot take off a day to sit in a meeting. According to last week's Valley Reporter, Moretown is considering the elimination of the Australian ballot and, by the sounds of it, those who vote by Australian ballot will not have an opportunity to vote on the issue.

You can review my record. I have voted nearly every year under the current system. Is this fair and democratic to take my right away? We do have a pre-Town Meeting the evening before to assist those interested in making a decision, with the facts presented by the select board and school board. The meeting is only a couple of hours and being a bedroom town it allows the people working in Montpelier, Waitsfield, Waterbury or even Burlington an opportunity to get home and be able to participate.

On the other hand if the people who vote agree to pay the entire amount they vote for and not burden those who are not allowed to vote, I might agree to the method. Taxation without representation should be unconstitutional (actually I thought it was, but I must be wrong). The system we currently have in Moretown does not seem all that bad. Items to be presented must be done in advance. It gives the voters time to think about and discuss issues. Hasty decisions from the floor are apt to be the ones that don't work out because the thought process has not had time to operate.

It's bad enough to proxy away our vote at the state and federal levels. Let's not do it at the local level as well.

Bob Holden lives in Moretown.

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