Letter:Eliminating referendum is a bad idea for Orange
At the last Orange Board of Selectmen’s meeting, there was a discussion regarding eliminating referendum voting on the town budget, thus going backward to the days of old and have a town meeting.
Besides saving a few dollars in the budget, what does this gain?
It would mean that anyone wanting to have a say in the budget would have to attend the town meeting held at 7:30 p.m.
This would most likely eliminate some seniors having a vote, since many do not drive at night.
It would also impact families. Many are at the ballfields or other activities with their families or only one parent would be able to attend while the other stayed home with the children.
It also would eliminate absentee voting so if you are not in town at that particular day and time, you no longer get a say.
The decision to eliminate voting hours from 6 a.m. to noon became a self-fulfilling prophecy by dropping voter turnout by about 10 percent. Many of the hard-working people of Orange cannot get to the polls in the evening.
So, to save money, the town decided to cut the hours to noon to 8 p.m. If you work, getting to the polls by 8 p.m. can be challenging. Even when voter turnout is low, shouldn’t every single vote be important?
Finally, the town meeting concept eliminates one’s right to privacy. No longer will you be able to go into a booth and privately fill out a ballot. The town meeting concept would require a show of hands thus everyone would know how each person voted.
This type of voting system would allow intimidation and take away your right to a secret ballot.
I urge the residents of Orange to contact the Board of Selectmen prior to their April 13 meeting and let your voice be heard. Eliminating the referendum is a bad idea and does nothing to improve voter participation.
— Jody Dietch