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Annual Temple Town Meeting/SB2 debate continues

  • Residents hold up cards for a hand-count at the 2016 Temple Town Meeting. Ben Conant



Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Monday, February 26, 2018 5:57PM

After more than a decade’s worth of votes on the subject, Temple residents will once again be making the decision: Town Meeting or ballot voting.

For the past twelve years, the question has remained a mainstay of Temple’s ballot, brought each year by petition. While on some occasions, it has gathered majority support, it has consistently fallen short of the two-thirds majority needed to make the change from traditional Town Meeting to a format where all of the issues on the warrant are settled at the polls.

“It came close one year, but most years it doesn’t get a majority. Seven out of the 12 years it’s been on the ballot, it didn’t even get 50 percent, but the proponents of that persevere,” said Selectwoman Gail Cromwell in an interview Monday.

In 2014, the measure came the closest to passing, falling only five votes short. In another year, it was only 25 votes short. 

Cromwell said that the Select Board has not taken an official position on the issue this year. In past years, the board has spoken in favor of the Town Meeting format. 

Temple will hold a public hearing tonight (Tuesday) for the public to hear the pros and cons and voice their opinions on the matter.

Ballot voting – sometimes called SB2 for “Senate Bill 2”, the measure that established the procedure – allows towns to hold a deliberative session prior to ballot voting. This meeting is meant to function much like a Town Meeting in that residents hear and give arguments for or against articles, and can make amendments on the floor, but no final votes are taken. Residents can go home, consider the arguments and get answers to questions that might have been raised before heading to the polls to cast their final votes at a later date.

Town Meeting is preceded by a budget hearing where the budget and warrant articles are reviewed, but only those that attend the actual meeting get to vote, without a process for absentee voting, which are available through the ballot process.

Proponents of ballot voting often argue that ballot voting, because it takes less time for individual residents, results in higher voter participation. Town Meeting supporters point to low deliberative session turnouts as proof that while more residents may be voting, they are less informed about the issues.

The hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. in the Town Hall Annex. By law, a proposed change in voting structure must be on the ballot on March 13 and requires a two-thirds majority to pass. 

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertrancript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.