It was nearly 10:15PM on May 8th. The votes had been counted, results announced, and the moderator declared an end to the Annual Town Meeting.
Moments later the audience filed out.
In the pitch of night, in a cold driving rain, most bewildered and befuddled participants, who sat through nearly three and a half hours of budgetary nonsense, found their cars.
However, one older Mansfield resident exited the building on the opposite side from which he entered, and became confused. At the edge of collapse and nearly exhausted, this gentleman feared he might never make it home. In the end another elector, recognizing the man’s distress, drove him to the other side of the building, and to his car.
Once home, he called his daughter, and declared, “That was my last Annual Town Meeting. I will never attend another.”
For those in Mansfield, who defend the Annual Town Meeting as a great New England tradition, it is nothing more than a modern attempt to disenfranchise the disabled, the older Mansfield resident, workers on the second and third shift, and families with babies and small children—all for political gain.
Secretary of State, and Mansfield resident, Denise Merrill must call upon Mansfield to correct this injustice and adopt the use of the polls and the voting booth to decide Mansfield’s town spending plan.
The polls are convenient (open all day and provide handicap parking close to the building), increase voter turnout (as evidenced by the swelling of the numbers when brought to referendum by petition), secure (no tiny orange slips of papers cut to different sizes), and maintains the integrity of the process (not counted on the floor of the auditorium by older volunteers).
It is shameful the Democrat party, the party of Representative John Lewis of Georgia, champion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, continues (in Mansfield, CT) to defend this archaic 17th century tradition on the grounds it is historic, and therefore, worth saving. It is not.
The time has come for Mansfield to step into the 21st century, to change the town’s charter, and once and for all, bring the town’s budget into the privacy of the voting booth!